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The OJCs 2006-07 report marked the first occasion on which comprehensive details of complaints received about judicial office holders had been made available to the public in this manner. I am pleased to note that the OJC continues to build on this foundation and believe that this report highlights the continued progress made by the OJC in delivering a high-quality, effective and transparent service to all its customers.
The Lord Chief Justice and I are keen to ensure that the disciplinary process for judicial office holders is both transparent and accountable. To that end, we have agreed that, from today, where a judicial office holder has been removed from office following disciplinary procedures, there should now be a presumption that both the identity of that judicial office holder, and the reason for their removal, should be made public. While mindful of this presumption, we will none the less continue to make decisions about disclosure on a case-by-case basis.
Where a judicial office holder has been subject to a lesser sanction than removal this presumption does not apply. However, we will continue to give consideration to the disclosure of relevant information in cases that have attracted a high degree of interest from the public and media.
Copies of the report are available in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. Copies of the report are also available on the internet at www.judicialcomplaints.gov.uk/publications/publications.htm.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Bridget Prentice) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act received Royal Assent in July 2007. It goes a long way to codify over 800 years of bailiff and enforcement law, following 10 years of assessment, debate and consultation. Last year my right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice asked for a reassessment to ensure that the enforcement provisions in the Act remain appropriate. Following a comprehensive review, I can confirm that the Government will not extend
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Part 3 of the 2007 Act makes a number of important reforms to bailiff law which will remove archaic and complex legislation. The majority of these reforms received cross-party support during its passage. The changes will help debtors, creditors, bailiffs and the police understand what their rights and responsibilities
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This will provide clarity for debtors and certainty for creditors and be underpinned by independent regulation of the enforcement industry. Regulation will not only improve the efficiency and effectiveness of both civil and criminal enforcement but offer protection to vulnerable debtors who genuinely cannot pay, and reduce the scope for abuse of the system. A formalised structure to regulate the industry would raise standards of professionalism within the industry and give the public greater confidence in it.
We will produce a consultation paper which will set out the Government's intentions for a package of measures which will address concerns that have been raised about the behaviour of bailiffs, the fees charged and proposals for the regulation of the bailiff industry. It will also set out draft regulations on seizure of goods, and allow for detailed consideration of a standardised fee structure. The intention is to commence this consultation exercise with a view to implementing the changes in April 2012. This will allow business, local authorities, courts, creditors, the enforcement industry and the advice sector a substantial period to adequately prepare for and introduce the change.
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