Date: 13 October 2023
A spokesperson for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said:
Mr Justice Keehan, on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice and with the Lord Chancellor’s agreement, has issued Ms Elisabeth Oats JP of the Cheshire Bench with formal advice for misconduct for failing to notify her Bench Chair and Senior Legal Manager of her involvement in court proceedings.
On appointment, all magistrates sign a declaration and undertaking, which includes a commitment to report “any impending criminal or civil proceedings against me, or in which I become involved in any capacity”.
An investigation by the North West Conduct Advisory Committee found that Ms Oats had failed to inform her bench chair that she was to act as a witness in a criminal trial until she attended court. They found that her failure to give notification could have derailed the trial.
In deciding to issue Ms Oats with formal advice, Mr Justice Keehan and the Lord Chancellor took into account that the trial had not been derailed and that Ms Oats had made a genuine mistake. They also took into account that Ms Oats had displayed sincere remorse and took full responsibility for her actions.
Media queries in relation to the JCIO should be made in the first instance to the Judicial Press Office - telephone 020 7073 4852 or via email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sanctions for misconduct by judicial office-holders are set out in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. They are, in order of severity: formal advice, formal warning, reprimand and removal from office.
For more information about the Office, including details on how to make a complaint against a judicial office holder, you can visit the JCIO website at: Judicial Conduct Investigations website