In a Parliamentary Question for written answer, Sir Peter raised the issued of chartered surveyor Benjamin Mire, who resigned his judicial appointment to the Property Tribunal Panel following the complaints of two leaseholders.
Both Karen Darvell and Colin Dennard had confronted Benjamin Mire at the LVT in his capacity as chief executive of Trust Property Management, which had commercial connections with the freeholder Lakeside Developments.
The two were appalled to learn that Mire also sat as a panel member of the property tribunal and complained to the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office (until earlier this year the Office of Judicial Complaints).
There was a hearing in February, a report that was shown to Benjamin Mire and he resigned in July.
Justice Minister Shailesh Vara, Tory MP for North West Cambridgeshire, replied to Bottomley:
“Mr Mire’s resignation follows an investigation into his conduct under the Judicial Discipline (Prescribed Procedures) Regulations 2006 (as amended). All information gathered in the course of a judicial conduct investigation is confidential and may only be disclosed in certain circumstances as set out is sections 139 of he Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Any report prepared in accordance with the Regulations is governed by this section of the Act and cannot therefore be published.”
However, this is not the end of the matter.
LKP points out that under section 139 (6) could be applied. It states:
- (6)This section does not prevent the disclosure with the agreement of the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice of information as to disciplinary action taken in accordance with a relevant provision.
Sir Peter is pressing the Justice Secretary and the Lord Chief Justice to issue a statement on this case.
It is certainly an injustice to Darvell and Dennard that there has been no public statement on the case of Benjamin Mire, who resigned after a hearing and the issuing of a report.
A more pressing question is whether Siobhan McGrath, who presides over the property tribunal, is confident that other panel members do not have blatant conflicts of interest.
In other words, whether other managing agents like Benjamin Mire sit on the tribunal panels as well as appear frequently before the tribunals in disputes with leaseholders.
The reasons for the resignation of Benjamin Mire are not known, but it is astonishing that he was appointed in the first place.