Judging the judge: boundaries, barriers and benefits

Pacey, Stephen James (2015) Judging the judge: boundaries, barriers and benefits. [Doctorate by Public Works]

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This work is based on my experience and the public works I have done as a tribunal judge. I explain the function and significance of tribunals in the justice system as a whole and their wider purpose in society. I attempt to lift the veil about becoming a judge, what influenced me, how I go about judicial decision making and its problems.
The motivation for the work arises from the fact that the perspective offered by retirement from the full time judiciary presented a good opportunity to reflect critically on my judicial work, the backdrop being the public works in the shape of my decisions as a Commissioner and Upper Tribunal Judge.
‘Judging the Judge’ encapsulates what this work is about. Evaluating, critically reflecting upon and extrapolating useful lessons from my time as a judge. ‘Boundaries’ are the limits imposed upon me as a judge – what I could properly do, how far I could go, the limitations of the law, rules of procedure, formality and the ambit of discretion, for example. ‘Barriers’ are in the form of obstructions to justice (or, at a more prosaic level, implementation of the law) such as lack of representation, the complexity, volume and rapidity of change in the law and problems arising from austerity measures. ‘Benefits’ has a dual meaning: First, the benefits of a judicial system in the rule of law, benefits to the individual and the wider society. Second, the benefits system itself, the bedrock of my work since without such state provision there would be nothing to appeal.
The novelty value of this work is that it offers an honest and unvarnished glimpse into the mind of a judge, subject only to the constraints imposed by professional circumspection. It tells what it is to be a judge, not just what the judge does. The reader will see the day to day pleasures and problems in judging, the thoughts of a
judge about contemporary issues, how a judge makes a decision and handles his work. In some aspects it foreshadows and illustrates some of the issues dealt with in the first ever judicial attitude survey (Thomas 2014). In a sense it shows that I have myself become a ‘public work’, being shaped and conditioned by my working environment, in every sense of that word.
I address conceptual problems about the nature and effect of justice and if it is important. As part of this I also address current societal and political problems and their impact on welfare law in general. I place the study also in the context of austerity measures and show how efficiency savings could be made.
The methodology is experientially based, from my career in various tribunals and, finally, at the highest level of tribunal justice. I provide a critical review derived from my professional experience. I draw insights and ideas from my career which have been meaningful to me and which I suggest are relevant to the wider legal and judicial profession. I offer, then, access to my professional learning.
In part I contrast formal court and informal tribunal procedures, addressing merits and drawbacks. I draw upon academic and professional sources in attempting to give a balanced overview of tribunals and reflect on these sources and how they resonate – or not – with my experience.
As appendices, and indicative of the public works I have done, I attach some of my decisions, of various kinds and with differing scenarios and results.
I conclude that tribunals have for a long time been under valued and under appreciated, not only in the machinery of justice but also in terms of their wider impact. I explain how and why this has come about and what steps ought to be taken to improve the system for tribunal users.

Item Type: Doctorate by Public Works
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
B. > Doctorates by Public Works
Item ID: 18312
Depositing User: Users 3197 not found.
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2015 15:49
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 23:11
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/18312

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