In a complete turnaround to its previously pleaded position (and a long standing constitutional assertion) in a claim of judicial bullying brought by Her Honour Judge Kaylani Kaul QC, the Ministry of Justice, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice have made an open admission submitted to the Court on 23 July 2021 that they do owe a duty of care to her and are vicariously liable for other judges’ behaviour.
HHJ Kaul QC commenced both High Court proceedings and Employment Tribunal proceedings against the Ministry of Justice, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice alleging mistreatment by high ranking members of the judiciary in relation to a substantial criminal trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court over which she presided. All three defended on the basis that the constitutional relationship and position of judges meant that none of them had any duty of care or liability for judges’ conduct. They prayed in aid that the independence of the judiciary meant that judges are independently working for the purposes of the
administration of justice in accordance with their oaths of office and in relation to grievances, effectively, self-governing.
Today the Government accepted that this element of the Defence is no longer sustainable and in a formal admission[i] to the Court accepted that the Government does owe a duty of care to judges and is liable for judges’ conduct.
David Greene, Senior Partner of Edwin Coe LLP and past President of the Law Society, representing HHJ Kaul QC said;
“My client is naturally happy that this concession is now made albeit two years into the case. She took a stance at great emotional and personal expense, for all judges to ensure she and they work in a safe environment and that the Government takes responsibility for it”
“The Government has maintained throughout this case and many others, against the flow of modern obligations; the age old constitutional position that the independence of judges meant it had no duty to ensure that judges worked in an environment absent of bullying or mistreatment. They said that that obligation might apply to everyone else but not to judges. We are pleased that they have abandoned that core element of their defence. It is unfortunate that it has taken so long to do so, until just before the first hearing. In the statement to the court the Government has accepted blame for the delay.[ii]
“This is an issue of some constitutional and practical importance for judges and the administration of justice. The independence of the judiciary is sacrosanct but the Government now accepts, for the first time, that it has an obligation to ensure a safe and secure working environment even in the relationship between judges. We may well see a flood of claims by judges now emboldened to speak out against bullying and mistreatment.”
Hopefully this admission will now lead to action and the Government will live up to its admitted responsibility. We want our great judges to do the day job without fear of their working environment”
“For the future and taking my client’s diminutive name, I hope this sea change will in future be known as “Kally’s Law” in recognition of her fortitude and bravery in pressing this issue”
Liam Ryan of 7 Bedford Row is counsel for the Claimant
GLD acts for the Defendants
[i] “If negligence is found on the part of those judges against whom allegations of negligence are pleaded in the Particulars of Claim, or on the part of the other Defendants, then the Crown will be liable to the Claimant in damages, and the Ministry of Justice is the correct authorised government department for the purposes of Section 17 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947.
[ii] “The Defendants accept that it would have been better had the admission been made sooner.
The Defendants wish to reassure the court that they have given careful and detailed consideration to this claim throughout.
The decision to make the admission has been the subject of very careful consideration. The Ministry of Justice hopes that by making the admission now, it narrows the issues in dispute, saves expense to both parties, and reduces the burden on the court’s limited time and resources.” Government statement to Court of 22 July 2021
About Edwin Coe
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