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Formal warning for misconduct issued to judge over ‘inappropriate’ comment

A fee paid employment judge has been issued with a formal warning for misconduct over a comment made while acting as a legal representative after a solicitor forgot to disconnect from the remote hearing.

Paul Michell was acting as a representative in an employment tribunal. Following an adjournment of a remote hearing, Michell was overhead ‘making an inappropriate comment about the claimant’.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said that following an investigation, ‘the president of the Employment Tribunals concluded that although [Michell] was not sitting as a judge when he made the comment, Mr Michell’s comment about how he felt about the other party was inappropriate, reflected poorly on the employment tribunal and risked causing damage to the impartiality and reputation of the judiciary’.

The JCIO said Michell said the conversation was intended to be private. The comment was heard after his instructing solicitor had forgotten to disconnect from the hearing.

Michell expressed his ‘deep regret for any offence caused’ and offered a ‘whole-hearted apology’.

The JCIO said: ‘The Guide to Judicial Conduct reminds officeholders to be courteous, tolerant and respect the dignity of all. In reaching their decision, the senior president of tribunals and the lord chancellor took into consideration the mitigation offered by Mr Michell. They agreed with the findings of the president that the matter constituted misconduct.’

Source: The Law Society Gazette

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