Although nothing has been mentioned on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council’s somewhat tardy website, the Gibraltar press has reported that the JCPC will give its judgment in the case of the Chief Justice of Gibraltar tomorrow, 12 November 2009 at 10.00am.   

The case is a striking one deriving from a breakdown in relations between Chief Justice Derek Schofield of Gibraltar and local lawyers. A formal complaint was made about the Chief Justice by four of Gibraltar’s leading law firms.  As a result, a disciplinary tribunal was established to consider the allegations.  Lord Cullen of Whitkirk, Sir Jonathan Parker and Sir Peter Gibson heard a range of witnesses including the Chief Minister Peter Caruana and Mr Justice Schofield himself.  The tribunal heard evidence in July 2008.  Transcripts of the hearing can be found here.  It produced a 207 page report on 5 December 2008 which concluded that by his conduct the Chief Justice was unable to discharge the functions of his office, and that, as a result, “We are satisfied that this inability warrants the removal of the Chief Justice from office.”  They recommended to the Governor that the question of removal be referred to the JCPC in accordance with the provisions of the Gibraltar Constitution Order 2006. [read more]

The matter was heard by a 7 judge panel on 15 to 17 June 2009.  The panel consisted of Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers; Lord Hope of Craighead; Lord Rodger of Earlsferry; Baroness Hale of Richmond; Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, Lord Judge and Lord Clarke.  Mr Justice Schofield was represented by Michael Beloff, QC.  The Governor of Gibraltar was represented by Tim Otty QC, and the Government of Gibraltar was represented by James Eadie, QC.   The hearing was reported in the Gibraltar Chronicle here.  The newspaper has previously noted that, during his suspension, the Chief Justice has been sitting as a recorder in England.

We will update the position when the judgment is available.