Judge Malcolm Simmons Appointed to Senior Overseas Judicial Post

In February 2022 Judge Malcolm Simmons was appointed resident judge and Her Majesty’s Coroner of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands and the British Antarctic Territory. He is also Acting Supreme Court Judge. In addition to his judicial role, he sits as Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee and Chair of the Sentencing Guidelines Committee. Judge Simmons continues to advise on matters relating to justice reform.

Asked about his new role, Judge Simmons said “I am delighted to return to the bench and it is an honour to be appointed to serve the people of these Islands. This is a challenging role with a varied caseload including criminal, family, civil and probate. In addition, I am the coroner for a large geographical area.”

The significance of the Falkland Islands to the UK is further demonstrated by the recent appointment of a senior Foreign Office diplomat to replace the outgoing Governor. Alison Blake CMG, former UK Ambassador in Kabul will become Governor in July.

Since 2017, Judge Malcolm Simmons has advised the senior judiciary of the Maldives. A Criminal Courts Bench Book drafted by Judge Malcolm Simmons is currently being rolled out by the Maldives judiciary. The bench book provides guidance for judges hearing complex criminal cases and include suggestions on how judges should facilitate giving evidence by victims of sexual and gender-based violence, vulnerable adults and children. The Bench Book will be available online to all judges and magistrates and will be regularly updated by a committee established by the Department of Judicial Administration.

Judge Malcolm Simmons recently conducted an assessment of the judicial training curriculum in the Maldives and has been instrumental in rolling out a new judicial performance evaluation policy. He has trained senior judiciary in legal reasoning and judgment writing, case management and sexual and gender-based violence.  He has for several years run a training of trainer’s program for judges and magistrates in the Maldives.

Judge Simmons is also coordinating a training program for court communication officers.  He was recently asked to advise on the introduction of a digitalization program for courts.

In November last year, Judge Malcolm Simmons was again in the Maldives delivering a training program that was led by Judicial trainers Judge Simmons had previously trained as part of a ‘Training of Trainers’ program facilitated by the Maldives Judicial Academy and supported by the UNDP.

The training was delivered to 29 court presidents and senior judges and addressed sexual and gender-based violence, judicial ethics, case management, legal reasoning and judgment writing.

Judge Malcolm Simmons began the three-day training by describing the role of the judge. “The law that the courts are required to apply is becoming technically more complex. Social relations increasingly demand the intervention of justice. In our democratic and open societies, there are multiple and often conflicting rights and expectations that demand to be recognized and guaranteed. In addition, there are growing expectations of non-discrimination, equality, social equity and redistribution. Inevitably, Judges must administer justice within the constraints of limited resources.” Simmons stated.

Judge Simmons went on to say “Knowledge of substantive law is no longer sufficient. In a rapidly evolving world where technologies, social context and law change with extreme regularity, judges must constantly improve and update their professional knowledge, skills and behaviour. Judicial education and training are essential to the development of an efficient, competent and independent judiciary.”

Judge Simmons explained how the Bench Book will assist judges and magistrates in the Maldives criminal courts to interpret and apply the criminal procedural rules. The bench book provides explanations and examples for judges hearing complex criminal cases and includes, for example, suggestions on how judges should facilitate children and vulnerable adults and victims of sexual and gender-based violence when giving evidence; the process to be adopted when exercising judicial discretion; admissibility of evidence; legal reasoning and judgment writing. The Bench Book is the most comprehensive tool available to judges to assist them in the exercise of their judicial function. The Bench Book will be available online to all judges and magistrates and will be regularly updated by a committee established by the Department of Judicial Administration. Superior courts judges will be invited to contribute to the Bench Book that will contain decisions of Maldives appellate courts, practice directions, etc.

Judge Malcolm Simmons: “The bench can be a lonely place for judges. Judges are often required to make quick decisions in often complex situations. Judges sitting in small island communities do not often have the opportunity to meet regularly with judicial colleagues. The Bench Book will provide judges with an invaluable resource that will assist them in understanding and applying often complex legal provisions. The Bench Book is a ‘living tool’ that will evolve on a daily basis. It is critical that it is regularly updated.”

The Criminal Courts Bench Book will be accompanied by a Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Bench Book and a Handbook for Judges on Legal Reasoning and Judgment Writing that have also been drafted by Judge Malcolm Simmons.

Judge Malcolm Simmons served as an international judge from 2004 to 2017 hearing war crime and serious and organised crime cases. He presided in some of the most complex war crime and serious organised crime cases in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kosovo during their troubled post-war periods. He served as President of EU International Judges from 2014 to 2017. He is particularly well-known for his judicial reform work and has more that 20 years of experience training judges, prosecutors and lawyers. In addition to his work in the Maldives, Judge Malcolm Simmons has worked in judicial reform projects in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and Pakistan.