Tuesday, August 08, 2017

JUDICIAL REGISTER: Calls for all UK judges including UK Supreme Court, and Tribunals to declare links to business, wealth, professional & other interests in published registers of interests

All UK Judges & tribunals should declare interests. AS THE Scottish Parliament continues an investigation into proposals calling for members of the Judiciary of Scotland to declare their interests, a call has been made to roll out a publicly available judicial register for all judges & tribunals all across the UK.

Calls to bring all UK judges, including top judges based at the UK Supreme Court, and all tribunal members into line with judicial transparency proposals currently being considered in Scotland - would require those who sit in judgement to declare all interests, professional & personal links, wealth, property and other interests, in a register of interests, similar to disclosures made by politicians and others in public life.

The move comes after a recent development where Scotland’s top judge conceded to calls for full transparency on judicial recusals, reported last week here: RECUSALS JUST GOT REAL: Judicial Office concedes to reforms for Judicial Recusals Register, full case details where judges stand down from court hearings to be entered after media & FOI probe success

Attempts by Scotland’s judiciary to become more transparent and open up the workings of Scotland’s courts and judiciary to the public, have come in response to MSPs consideration of judicial transparency proposals contained in Petition PE1458: Register of Interests for members of Scotland's judiciary.

The petition, first debated at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January 2013 – calls for the creation of a publicly available register of judicial interests.

The creation of such a register would ensure full transparency for the most powerful people in the justice system – the judiciary.

The resulting publicly available register of judicial interests would contain information on judges’ backgrounds, figures relating to personal wealth, undeclared earnings, business & family connections inside & outside of the legal profession, membership of organisations, property and land, offshore investments, hospitality, details on recusals and other information routinely lodged in registers of interest across all walks of public life in the UK and around the world.

A full debate on the proposal to require judges to declare their interests was held at the Scottish Parliament on 9 October 2014 - ending in a motion calling on the Scottish Government to create a register of judicial interests. The motion was overwhelmingly supported by MSPs from all political parties.

A full listing of evidence in support of the petition calling for a register of judicial interests can be found here: JUDICIAL REGISTER: Evidence lodged by Judicial Investigators, campaigners, judges & journalists in four year Holyrood probe on judges’ interests - points to increased public awareness of judiciary, expectation of transparency in court

And, two of Scotland’s recent top judges, former Lord President Lord Brian Gill, and current Lord President Lord Carloway, have testified before the Scottish Parliament on the petition, both failing to prove any case against creating a register of judicial interests.

A report on Lord Brian Gill’s evidence to the Scottish Parliament in November 2015 can be found here: JUDGE ANOTHER DAY: Sparks fly as top judge demands MSPs close investigation on judges’ secret wealth & interests - Petitions Committee Chief brands Lord Gill’s evidence as “passive aggression”

A report on Lord Carloway’s widely criticised evidence to the Scottish Parliament in July 2017 can be found here: REGISTER TO JUDGE: Lord Carloway criticised after he blasts Parliament probe on judicial transparency - Top judge says register of judges’ interests should only be created if judiciary discover scandal or corruption within their own ranks

The National reports on recent developments here:

Fresh call for all UK judges to register interests

Campaigner says UKSupreme Court should follow Scotland example on Judicial Recusals

Martin Hannan Journalist 2 August 2017 The National

THE UK Supreme Court and the courts in England and Wales and all tribunals across Britain do not have a system that shows where judges and tribunal members have been forced to step aside from cases due to actual or possible conflicts of interest.

As The National revealed on Monday, Scotland is shortly going to have an expanded register of judicial recusals that records when judges and sheriffs withdraw from cases, but no such register exists for the judiciary south of the Border or for any public tribunal.

Now the legal campaigner who has fought for Scottish judges to declare their interests for more than five years is calling on UK Supreme Court justices, the English and Welsh judiciary and the various tribunals to do the same and keep a register of recusals.

Peter Cherbi’s current petition before the Scottish Parliament is asking that the judiciary in this country declare their financial interests, as US Supreme Court Justices must do.

Cherbi accepts, however, that the Judicial Office in Scotland has already acted to bring in a more details register of recusals. Now he wants the UK Supreme Court to do the same.

Cherbi said: “We have now moved forward in Scotland in terms of judicial transparency with the publication of judicial recusals. If Scotland can do it, so can England and Wales, and the courts in Northern Ireland. The English justice system touts itself worldwide as the law of choice for litigants. If this is truly the case, then it is for the UK judiciary to be as transparent as Scotland and publish their own recusal register, and a register of interests as we are working on here.

“With the recent announcement of Lady Hale being appointed as President of the UK Supreme Court, I will be writing to her, requesting she consider creating a register of recusals for UKSC, as so far, the UK Supreme Court has also been silent on matters of recusals, which the public, court users, and legal representatives have a right to know.

“I shall also be contacting the European Court of Justice and the European Union to ask that courts throughout the EU be encouraged to publish recusal data and more detail on their judges. All EU citizens should have the same entitlements to judicial transparency we are now creating in Scotland.”

Cherbi thinks the Supreme Court and English and Welsh courts can lean learn from the experience here, where a register of recusals has been kept since 2014 and which is to be expanded.

He said: “Our approach in Scotland to improving courtroom and judicial transparency, fuelled by the hard work of cross party MSPs, the Scottish Parliament, fantastic support from Judicial Complaints Reviewers Moi Ali and Gillian Thompson, and backing by the media is a good reminder that team work and cross party support can bring significant change for the good.”

He also wants entities such as employment tribunals to be more open: “My ongoing investigations into tribunals suggests declarations of interests are more often than not concealed, and recusals are few and far between, if ever occurring, and there is little if anything those before tribunals can do about it.

“The public, who are being judged, are entitled to know who their judges are. It is as simple as that.

“Those who judge cannot be judge in their own cause, nor write and approve their own rules, without expectation of full transparency and accountability. Independence of the judiciary is guaranteed, and no one would ever question it. However, those who judge must live by the same laws and expectations of transparency they enforce upon the rest of us.

A spokesman for the UK Supreme Courts said: “Justices are bound by their judicial oath and a code of conduct to declare any relevant interest in a case to the parties, before they consider the matter. There are no current plans to publish a register of recusals.”

Previous articles on the lack of transparency within Scotland’s judiciary, investigations by Diary of Injustice including reports from the media, and video footage of debates at the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee can be found here : A Register of Interests for Scotland's Judiciary.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said Peter.The tribunal system is rotten to the core.Corrupt in every respect and here you will find many times more conflicts of interest than in the courts.In my former life as a union rep I attended tribunals with members.On several occasions I was approached prior to the hearing and told what not say of assistance to the person who was the subject of the hearing.Each time the tribunal member who contacted me had links to my union and each time I reported such contact I was instructed not to say anything.On one occasion I submitted a report in writing and received a warning.The report was destroyed.

Anonymous said...

Off topic I know however I noticed Shepherd & Wedderburn are sponsoring a National Museums exhibition on an Egyptian tomb and have their name plastered all over the museum and twitter courtesy of taxpayers.
https://twitter.com/NtlMuseumsScot/status/894986634676097026
http://www.nms.ac.uk/thetomb
Same firm who helped lift the Parliament House titles for Faculty of Advocates isn't it? Lady Smith's husband wasn't it?All published in the foi you obtained.Good work.The video of Sturgeon spluttering her way though a question claiming she couldn't do anything about it is priceless.

Off topic again any numbers on how much the Faculty of Advocates are conning out of the public purse this year for that monstrosity Abbotsford House?

Anonymous said...

Employment tribunals too I hope because those are the most corrupt hearings on the go when I was at mine they were all laughing and carrying on before we went in everything already judged before I even sat down to present my side of the story you can tell from all those sitting there the brown envelopes have already been handed out

Anonymous said...

Wow your blog must be about the only reasonable website on the law not related to all those legal mafia money making crooks!

Really hard to find a non lawyer blog or website fighting for consumers most or all of the others are in fact written by lawyers and other **** who are more interested in talking up their own legal creations and demand we bow before them or else our homes and livelihoods will be taken away from us.

As far as I am concerned the people in the legal fraternity are the creepiest most crooked and downright dishonest mob on the entire planet.They manipulate everything to make them as much money as possible and I can see that supreme court is no different from the rest.Horrible people are the most powerful and deserve to make the most declarations!

Anonymous said...

Hey I like the sound of this!!Go for it Peter!!

Anonymous said...

A spokesman for the UK Supreme Courts said: “Justices are bound by their judicial oath and a code of conduct to declare any relevant interest in a case to the parties, before they consider the matter. There are no current plans to publish a register of recusals.”

aye right

bags of money dripping out their pockets and parties with bankers but nothing down in writing so no records no names

oaths! what year are these judges living in?get real and declare or go gardening mluds

Anonymous said...

Would any other profession or industry be allowed to say we are not declaring anything and continue it for five years at parliament?

Make this register law and yes for all UK judges.

Anonymous said...

The UK Supremem Court judges used to register their interests before they decided, seemingly amongst themselves, to dispense with this. No reason was ever given for this unilateral withdrawal.

As for reliance on the judicial oath of office your reports confirm that time and again this has been shown and again not to be worth the paper it is written on.

Anonymous said...

JUDICIAL REGISTER: Calls for all UK judges including UK Supreme Court, and Tribunals to declare links to business, wealth, professional & other interests in published registers of interests..............If a register was accurate and retrospective we would see evidence of litigants court cases failing because Judge X has shares in Company Y, obvious I know. Yes the causal links are there which is why they want everything kept secret, the lice they are.

Anonymous said...

So what is Lady Hale going to do now?

After all the fawning praise of her impending appointment as President of UKSC is she going to continue the ridiculous line from Gill and Carloway we cannot have a register of judicial interests because judges say so?

If so,this implies the same corruption Carloway banged on about while he was in front of the Petitions Committee.

And if Hale says nothing or even worse does nothing - particularly now you have the recusals register in Scotland she looks as out of touch as Carloway Gill and the remainder of the judiciary who have said nothing about declaring their interests.

At the very least your recusals register must now go ahead all across the UK and if any Europe based journos with a law interest are onto your register this should also go ahead across the EU.

Anonymous said...

re the comment at 13:01

Lady Hale knows full well there is no defence against calls to require the judiciary to comply with a register of interests.

Her colleagues up and down the land have almost daily castigated others for failing to declare whatever it is required to be declared.

To argue for this long judges must not be subject to the register of interests in the threatening manner your judges in Scotland have done so equates the judiciary to the class of crooks criminals and tax dodgers who all hide their assets for fear of discovery.

Now the same register should apply to all judges as the headline says and backdate it to when your petition began in 2012 which is a shocking fact on its own.

Anonymous said...

How on earth do judges get away with no register of their interests??how can you have any confidence in courts if they fail to reveal their interests if you are in a case against one of their investments or some other kind of same interest?!
DISGRACE!

Anonymous said...

Well put it this way Peter now we know for sure the judiciary are up to their necks in dirty laundry so dirty they have fought for five years to undermine your petition the fact is anything can now be questioned because ultimately all the ripping off by banks the govt businesses you name it is backed up by "the law" because any time someone takes issue with a local council a public body the British or Scottish governments they say every time we can do this because we are backed up by the law and if you dont like it dare to challenge us in the courts where the judiciary will see you are well stitched up.

A very very rotten corrupt and dirty justice system we have in the whole of the country not just Scotland as your article and the National story well demonstrates.

As for what people are saying about the hallowed be thy name UK Supreme court judges well they run around in £20,000 gowns and live a very protected lifestyle compared with the rest of the country who they forgot about while bellyaching about their huge salaries and pensions and wanting more more more for keeping the status quo and everybody under the thumb of the nasty Govt

Anonymous said...

What do you think of the latest changes to FOI and info being published as journalists receive it?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-40911577

Lib Dems claims FoI changes undermine investigative journalism

13 August 2017

Concerns have been raised about changes to the way Freedom of information (FoI) requests are handled in Scotland.

All Scottish government FoI requests are now published online after complaints about late responses.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats say journalists have been put off making requests because rivals get the answers at the same time.

Ministers insist it shows Scotland has one of "the most open and transparent governments in the world".

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act gives everyone the right to ask for any information held by a Scottish public authority, with a response required within 20 working days.

Some information can be exempt but an organisation must explain the exemption which applies.

The Lib Dems claim the new system of open publication is "devaluing the information".

MSP Tavish Scott said ministers had "figured out they can evade scrutiny, deter the submission of requests and spike stories".

There has been a row over Scotland's freedom of information system after a group of journalists signed an open letter voicing concerns.

In June, MSPs unanimously condemned the Scottish government's performance on FOI requests and called for an independent inquiry.

In response, the Scottish government announced it would publish all information released in response to FoI requests online from July.

Mr Scott said: "Ministers accepted a degree of criticism of their performance.

"However, the only measure they have really championed to address the fact they weren't responding properly to freedom of information requests, publicly publishing all material released under FoI, is fraught with dangers of its own.

"Just weeks into the new regime I am hearing from journalists that this is having a chilling effect on their work. We need quality investigative journalism to acquire the truth and get to the bottom of spin. These changes are designed to deter that.

"Immediately publishing information publicly removes the incentive for journalists to pursue stories as they fear that whatever they uncover will immediately be made available to all their competitors.

"This wheeze means the Scottish government can appear transparent while achieving the opposite."

'Crowning achievements'

Mr Scott called for an independent inquiry into how the Freedom of Information system operated.

He added: "There is a good argument that information released under FoI laws should be in the public domain. However, the best process for doing this should be considered as part of a wider independent inquiry.

"For example, a short delay between the provision of the information to the applicant and it being published could make the system fairer.

"Meanwhile, the original problem of industrial scale evasion and the failure to release information we have a right to remains. Just this week, my party had to again chase up information that was asked for 17 weeks ago."

The Scottish government said FoI legislation has been extended to extra public bodies and that access to national records has been reduced from 30 years to 15 as part of a drive to improve transparency.

A spokesman for Parliamentary Business Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: "This is an extraordinary statement from Tavish Scott, who is suggesting that the Scottish government is now releasing too much information, implying that we should instead cut back on the amount of material we release.

"Under this government, freedom of information has been extended, and Scotland now has one of the most open and transparent information and governance systems, which has been praised internationally."

Anonymous said...

What a miserable bunch we have as our judiciary what is so bloody wrong with declaring their interests hell this should be expected from judges this is a total OUTRAGE they are getting away with not registering what they have then they expect us to tell all in court while they sit there hiding everything rotten to the core completely corrupt!