Complain about a judge, sheriff or justice of the peace

Last updated: 1 September 2017

You can complain about the way a judge, sheriff or justice of the peace has behaved inside or outside court.

You can't complain about the outcome of your case, or how your case has been handled. You can get legal advice if you think a court has got things wrong.

If you want to complain about your lawyer get in touch with them directly.

How to complain

Contact the Judicial Office for Scotland to complain about a judge, sheriff or justice of the peace.

Phone: 0131 240 6677

Find out about call charges

Address:

Judicial Office for Scotland
Strategy & Governance Branch
Parliament House
Edinburgh
EH1 1RQ

You must do this within 3 months of the incident you're complaining about.

Your complaint must include:

  • your name and address
  • the name of the judge (or enough information to help the Judicial Office for Scotland work out which judge it is)
  • the court and date of the hearing
  • details of exactly what you're complaining about

The complaints process

The Judicial Office will let you know they have your complaint within 5 working days of them getting it.

They'll send a copy of your complaint to the judge you've complained about.

The Judicial Office will review your complaint. They may dismiss it (decide not to take it any further) if it:

  • isn't about a judge's behaviour
  • is about something that's already been dealt with
  • is something that should be dealt with by the Judicial Complaints Reviewer (the Reviewer's role is to check that investigations have been carried out properly)
  • doesn't include enough information to help them understand what your complaint is about
If the Judicial Office dismisses your complaint because it doesn't include enough information, you'll have the chance to give more.

Reasons why your complaint may be dismissed

The Disciplinary Judge can decide that your complaint should be dismissed because it is:

  • weak
  • unreasonable
  • not backed up by evidence

They can also dismiss your complaint if the judge you're complaining about isn't a judge any more.

What happens if your complaint isn't dismissed

If your complaint isn't dismissed, it will be sent to a disciplinary judge. They'll review it and decide if there should be more investigation into it carried out by a nominated judge.

If your complaint is so serious that it may cause doubts about whether a judge is able to do their job, the Lord President may think about whether there should be a tribunal to investigate this.

If this happens, a different investigation process will be followed. This process is laid down in law.

If your complaint needs more investigation

You might need to:

  • take part in an interview
  • give more information

If you're asked to go to an interview you can take someone with you for moral support or to:

  • help you manage the paperwork for your case
  • give you advice

Who can find out about your complaint

The investigation into your complaint will usually be confidential. Only you and the judge you've complained about will know about it.

But the Lord President can decide that it would be in the interests of administration of justice for the outcome to be made public.

If this happens, you and the judge you're complaining about will be told beforehand.

If you're not happy with the way your complaint was handled

You can ask for your complaint to be reviewed by the Judicial Complaints Reviewer. This is the person who looks into how investigations into complaints are dealt with.

The Judicial Complaints Reviewer will decide whether the investigation has been carried out according to the rules.

You can ask for a review by completing the form on the Judicial Complaints Reviewer website or writing to:

Address:

Ian Gordon
Judicial Complaints Reviewer
GC North
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh
EH6 6QQ

The Judicial Complaints Reviewer looks at how the investigation into your complaint was carried out.

They don't have the power to look into the facts your complaint was based on, or the final decision that was made about it.

You and the judge you're complaining about can ask for a review.

How to withdraw your complaint

You can withdraw your complaint contacting the Judicial Office for Scotland at:

Phone: 0131 240 6677

Find out about call charges

Address:

Judicial Office for Scotland
Strategy & Governance Branch
Parliament House
Edinburgh
EH1 1RQ

If your complaint is about a tribunal member

Visit the Judicial Office for Scotland website if you're complaining about a member of the:

  • Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland
  • Housing and Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland
  • Upper Tribunal for Scotland

For any other tribunal (eg employment, immigration) contact the Tribunal President.