MLAs discuss role of Judicial Appointments Ombudsman

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The role of the Judicial Appointments Ombudsman could be "co-located" with the role of Public Service Ombudsman if Department of Justice proposals are accepted, MLAs were told, on 21 February 2013.

The current Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Ombudsman, Karamjit Singh, briefed the Justice Committee on his views of the proposed reforms.

He said he saw the role as trying to promote confidence in the appointment of the judiciary, and this should be balanced against any wish to provide "value for money".

Mr Singh said that his counterpart in England dealt mostly with complaints about conduct.

Replying to a question from the SDLP's Alban Maginness, the ombudsman said there were two possibilities for extending the ombudsman's remit.

The first would be to allow the ombudsman to consider complaints about the judiciary; the second would be an audit of the judiciary to consider whether it was reflective of society.

Department of Justice officials then briefed the committee on the proposals.

Mr David Lavery explained that the office of the Judicial Appointments Ombudsman had cost only £64,000 in the previous year.

He said the proposal was not to abolish the office as a legal entity but that it could be held by the person appointed to the post of Public Service Ombudsman.

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