Role of the Ombudsman

The Office of the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) was established on 25 September 2006 under the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 (as amended by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005). It is completely independent of the Government and the judiciary.

The Ombudsman investigates complaints from applicants for judicial appointment where maladministration by the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission (the Commission), Committees of the Commission, or by the Lord Chancellor in respect of his role in making recommendations for appointment, is alleged.

The Ombudsman may also:

  • investigate allegations of maladministration by the Northern Ireland Court Service, notwithstanding the abolition of that body;

  • investigate allegations of maladministration by the Lord Chancellor in relation to appointments schemes initiated prior to 12 April 2010: and

  • investigate, determine and make recommendations on matters referred to him by the Lord Chancellor in relation to appointment schemes initiated prior to 12 April 2010.

Other responsibilities include:

  • raising awareness and highlighting the strategic direction for the Ombudsman among members of the public, the legal profession and other interested groups;
  • liaising with the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman in England and Wales; and
  • producing an annual report to the Department of Justice on the discharge of his functions, which must be laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In investigating a complaint the Ombudsman aims to be impartial, accessible and effective within the limits of his authority. In so doing he has a duty of care equally to complainants and those complained about. In the event of maladministration the Ombudsman will seek redress and through recommendation and constructive feedback aim to improve standards and practices in the authorities concerned..