FAQ

What is the JCC Act?

All references to the 'JCC Act' on our website are to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner Act 2015.

 

What can I complain about?

You can complain about the conduct of a serving judicial officer.

Under the JCC Act, conduct of a judicial officer includes any act or omission of a judicial officer whether or not the conduct occurred in the course of carrying out the functions of a judicial officer and whether or not the conduct results from an illness or incapacity.

The Commissioner cannot deal with complaints relating to judgments, orders or any other decision made by a judicial officer in legal proceedings.

 

Who are judicial officers?

A judicial officer is a person who has been appointed to hold or act in a judicial office in South Australia.

Judicial officers include:

  • Judges and Masters of the Supreme Court
  • Judges and Masters of the District Court
  • Magistrates
  • Special Justices
  • Other persons who exercise judicial functions and who are appointed to an office that may only be occupied by a Judge, Master, Magistrate or by a person with other legal qualifications.

 

Can the Commissioner deal with complaints about former judicial officers?

No, the JCC Act requires a complaint about a person who is no longer a judicial officer to be dismissed.

 

Can I make a complaint?

If you have not been declared a vexatious litigant, you can make a complaint to the Commissioner.

 

Can my lawyer make a complaint for me?

Yes, your legal representative can make a complaint on your behalf.

 

Can I make a complaint anonymously?

No, the JCC Act requires that a complaint include the name of the person making the complaint.

However, a complaint does not need to be made by a person who witnessed the conduct. If you are concerned about making a complaint, we encourage you to contact us and discuss your concerns.

 

How do I make a complaint?

The easiest way to make a complaint is to complete the online complaint form that you can find here.

If you cannot use the online complaint form, please contact us and ask for a complaint form to be sent to you or you can download a copy here.

 

Do I have to make my complaint in writing?

Yes, the JCC Act requires a complaint to be made in writing.

 

What will happen if I make a false complaint?

It is an offence to make a complaint knowing that there are no grounds for making the complaint.

It is also an offence to make a statement to the Commissioner that is false or misleading in a material particular.

 

What happens after I make a complaint?

After a complaint is made, we will conduct a preliminary examination and the Commissioner will decide whether to:

  • refer the complaint to the Office for Public Integrity;
  • refer the complaint to the judicial officer who is the jurisdictional head and recommend the action that should be taken;
  • recommend the appointment of a judicial conduct panel to investigate the conduct;
  • make a report to Parliament;
  • or take no further action or dismiss the complaint.

 

Who will investigate my complaint?

The Commissioner has no power to investigate complaints beyond conducting a preliminary examination. The Commissioner conducts a preliminary examination of each complaint for the purpose of determining what should be done with the complaint. He has no power to make findings against a judicial officer or to discipline, punish or prosecute a judicial officer.

If the Commissioner decides to refer a complaint to the relevant jurisdictional head, the jurisdictional head must report back to the Commissioner on the action taken to deal with the complaint.

If the Commissioner decides to recommend that the Attorney-General appoint a judicial conduct panel, that panel has the power to inquire into and report on the subject matter of a complaint.

 

Who is the relevant jurisdictional head?

The relevant jurisdictional head is the person who has primary responsibility for the administration of the court and has power to issue requirements to a judicial officer the subject of a complaint.

Each judicial body has a person who has primary responsibility for that body. For example, the Chief Magistrate is the principal officer of the Magistrates Court and is responsible for the administration of that court. The Chief Magistrate has the power to issue requirements to all Magistrates and Special Justices who hear matters in the Magistrates Court.

Where a complaint is about a judicial officer who is a jurisdictional head, the relevant jurisdictional head is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia.

 

Can the Commissioner review or overturn a decision made by a judicial officer?

No, the Commissioner cannot review or overturn a decision made by a judicial officer.

The JCC Act specifically provides that ‘it is not a function of the Commissioner to challenge or call into question the legality or correctness of any instruction, direction, order, judgment, or other decision given or made by a judicial officer in relation to any legal proceedings.'

The Commissioner must dismiss a complaint if it would require him to challenge or question a judgment, order or other decision made by a judicial officer in legal proceedings.

 

Can I tell anyone that I made a complaint?

If the Commissioner prohibits publication of information or evidence relating to a complaint, you will not be able to publicise the fact that you made a complaint. This means that you cannot publish the fact you have made a complaint in the newspaper, on the radio, on social media or by other similar means.

If information has been disclosed to you by the Commissioner’s staff for the purpose of dealing with your complaint, you cannot disclose that information for any other purpose.

 

Can I make a complaint during court proceedings?

Yes, a complaint can be made about a judicial officer during court proceedings.

The judicial officer who is the subject of the complaint may request that the Commissioner postpone the consideration of the complaint until the court proceedings have been completed. If the Commissioner is satisfied that consideration of the complaint could in any way disrupt or influence the conduct of a court hearing, he must postpone the consideration of the complaint.

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