Inquiries About Reserved Decisions and Complaints about Magistrates

For other than interlocutory matters or urgent matters, the Magistrates Court aims to deliver each decision within three months from the date on which the decision was reserved, or last submissions received, unless the presiding magistrate has indicated otherwise.

If a practitioner wishes to inquire about a delay in the delivery of a reserved decision in a case in which he or she is acting, the practitioner may write to the President of the ACT Bar Association or ACT Law Society.  If it appears to the relevant President that the decision has been outstanding for at least three months or is required urgently, the President will write to the Registrar.  The Registrar will refer the inquiry to the Chief Magistrate without disclosing the identity of the practitioner who has made the inquiry. The Chief Magistrate will inform the Registrar of the date when it is anticipated that the reserved decision will be delivered.  The Registrar will write to the inquiring legal practitioner and the other party to the litigation (or their legal representative) advising them of the anticipated date.

If an unrepresented litigant is concerned about a delay in the delivery of a reserved decision in a case in which he or she is a party, the litigant may write directly to the Registrar. The Registrar will refer the inquiry to the Chief Magistrate without disclosing the identity of the inquirer. The Chief Magistrate will inform the Registrar of the date when it is anticipated that the reserved decision will be delivered. The Registrar will write to the inquirer and the other party to the litigation (or their legal representative) advising them of the anticipated date.

A practitioner or litigant who wishes to make a complaint (not merely an inquiry) about a reserved decision should follow the complaint procedure set out below.

Complaints about the behaviour or capacity of a Magistrate

A litigant, practitioner or other person who wishes to complain about the behaviour or physical or mental capacity of a current Magistrate should make a written complaint to the Judicial Council or the Attorney-General (who will refer the complaint to the Judicial Council).   The complaint should be addressed to:

Principal Officer

ACT Judicial Council
GPO Box 1884
Canberra ACT 2601

Principal.Officer@ACTJudicialCouncil.org.au

Phone: 02 62760193

A complaint must include:

  • the complainant’s name and address
  • the name of the Magistrate
  • the relevant court date and the full particulars of the complaint

The Magistrate who is the subject of the complaint and the Chief Magistrate will be told about the complaint and any relevant details.

The Principal Officer will consider the complaint and may ask for more information.  The Council will then:

  • dismiss the complaint
  • refer the complaint to the relevant head of jurisdiction, or
  • conduct a full examination of the complaint.

If a complaint proceeds to a full examination, and is substantiated, the Council will refer the complaint to the Chief Magistrate, unless it is about the Chief Magistrate in which case it shall be referred to the Chief Justice, and provide a report to the ACT Attorney‑General. The Attorney-General may approve the establishment of a separate judicial commission for serious complaints that could lead to a recommendation to the ACT Legislative Assembly to dismiss a judicial officer.

Further information about making a complaint to the ACT Judicial Council is available on the ACT Judicial Council website (Link: http://www.actjudicialcouncil.org.au/)