Launch date: 13:00 on 2 November 2017
Closing date: 13:00 on 16 November 2017
Number of vacancies: 25
Number of applications: 52
Number of selections: 10. Further data on this exercise, including diversity data, will be published by the JAC as part of its annual official statistics bulletin.
Salary: Group 4 £181.566. In addition, High Court judges in the 2015 New Judicial Pension Scheme (NJPS) will receive a temporary recruitment and retention allowance (RRA) of 11% of salary. This is a targeted, temporary, taxable and non-pensionable allowance that is subject to National Insurance and will be paid until June 2018, although it may be withdrawn at any time if circumstances change.
This page contains the information that you need about the vacancies. It describes the selection process that the JAC will apply with relevant dates and advice on how to prepare for the various stages of this process.
The JAC has been asked to recommend candidates for 25 vacancies: 16 in the Queen’s Bench Division (QBD), 4 in the Chancery Division and 5 posts in the Family Division (FD); excellent candidates are encouraged to apply. The specialisms previously highlighted for the QBD have been adjusted to take account of recent appointments. For the QBD expertise in any of the Division's work is desirable, but most particularly in crime, planning, commercial law and technology and construction (TCC) law. For the Chancery Division, it is desirable for candidates to have a background in any aspect of Chancery law.
Message from the Lord Chancellor
High Court judges deal with the most significant cases in England and Wales, involving matters of important legal principle and potentially far reaching public impact. Their decisions not only affect the parties immediately involved, they can also have a lasting impact on society as a whole. We are looking for candidates with the exceptional intellectual ability, skills and experience to deal with these complex and highly important cases. As with last year’s competition, no previous judicial experience is required and there are vacancies across all 3 divisions.
The judiciary in England and Wales is respected throughout the world for its independence, integrity and quality. This selection exercise is an excellent opportunity for you to join that judiciary, taking on an intellectually stimulating role that also provides a vital public service. If you believe you can demonstrate the exceptional skills necessary to fulfil this important and rewarding position, I urge you to apply.
Rt Hon David Lidington MP
Overview of the role
All the posts will be based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Candidates are reminded that the jurisdiction covers England and Wales, and judges can be deployed to sit in courts in Wales which are enacting primary legislation different from the law applicable in England. Although most sittings will be at the Royal Courts of Justice, many High Court Judges may be asked to sit on Circuit, if invited. The timing and frequency of any circuit sittings will be a matter of discussion between the successful candidate(s), the senior judiciary and HMCTS and consideration will be given to individuals' personal commitments.
Although the High Court comprises 3 Divisions (Queen’s Bench, Chancery and Family), the jurisdiction of the High Court is indivisible in law and, irrespective of the division to which a judge is assigned, all judges of the High Court possess equal power, authority and jurisdiction. Accordingly, in response to the business needs of the court, judges may be required to sit in a division other than that to which they are assigned.
Candidates may like to watch High Court judges talking about their work and why they applied in the videos on the Judicial Office website.
There is no upper or lower age limit for candidates apart from the statutory retirement age of 70. However, the age at which someone is appointed as a High Court Judge should allow for a reasonable length of service. For this position it is usually 5 years before retirement.
The Commission will decide whether a candidate will be able to provide a reasonable length of service.
Candidates who already hold judicial appointment and were first appointed before March 1995, may have a preserved retirement age of 72. This includes candidates first appointed to a judicial office listed in Schedule 7 to the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993. Such candidates should inform the JAC about their retirement age.
Candidates must be either a UK citizen, a citizen of another Commonwealth country, or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland at the time of application. Other European Union citizens are not eligible to apply.
Open for applications: 2 November 2017 at 13:00
Close for applications: 16 November 2017 at 13:00
Request for independent assessments: 22 November 2017
Deadline for the receipt of independent assessments: 6 December 2017
Results of shortlisting: 8 to 9 February 2018
Selection days: 27 February to 19 March 2018
Final results of selection days: End May 2018
The Commission encourages diversity and welcomes applications from groups currently under-represented in the judiciary. The principles of fair and open competition will apply and recommendations for appointment will be made solely on merit.
Additional information for candidates
Candidates without previous sitting experience
Previous judicial experience is not required and applications are invited from practitioners as well as judges. However, please note that it is important to have a realistic view of the complexity and demands of High Court work, relative to your current role or practice. Those who do not regularly handle highly-pressured, high volume, intellectually complex and legally challenging work – all of which are features of the High Court – will need to be able to demonstrate the relevant transferable skills or experience.
Preparation and application
The JAC recognises that candidates will be extremely busy with their own work both before and during the exercise, but it expects those who aspire to this senior level to have taken steps, before applying, to prepare to make the application. The JAC also recognises that preparing an application is a substantial task and will draw significantly on candidates’ time; it is not one that can be completed overnight. We would, therefore, invite candidates to start preparing their applications well in advance. Specifically, we ask candidates to consider carefully which examples best demonstrate their suitability for this role, including the examples of written work to be submitted as part of their application (see below). It is important that candidates put forward the very best evidence available to them at all stages of the application process.
The transferable skills table is provided to assist those candidates who do not already sit in the High Court jurisdiction in assessing their readiness to apply. This is not an exhaustive set of examples, but an attempt to help candidates measure whether their experience to date is at an appropriate level for appointment as a High Court judge.
The nature of the work
The JAC will only recommend candidates of exceptional ability for appointment. In addition to possessing the judicial competencies to an exceptional level of ability, candidates must be able to demonstrate that they are able to work or develop expertise in all aspects of the work of the relevant division. This ability must extend beyond pure legal skill and candidates should be able to demonstrate actual or potential management and leadership qualities. High Court judges may be appointed to leadership roles. In the Queen’s Bench Division, this includes serving as a presiding judge. The responsibilities of presiding judges include the exercise of broad supervision over the running of the courts on the Circuit to which they are assigned, the deployment of High Court and Circuit judges in the Circuit, and attending to the well-being of the Circuit judiciary. Within the Family Division, one High Court judge is appointed for each Circuit as a Family Division Liaison judge (FDLJ) whose responsibilities include judicial deployment, supervising the listing of Family Division work on Circuit, co-ordinating the work of the Designated Family judges on Circuit, and liaising with the local family judges at all levels. Across all 3 divisions, High Court judges may be appointed to act as the Judge-in-Charge of a particular area of business or become involved in assisting the Lord Chief Justice and Heads of Division in the administration of a modern judiciary.
Section 9 authorisation and appointment
If not already authorised, successful candidates will require immediate authorisation as a Deputy High Court Judge under section 9(1) or appointment as a Deputy High Court Judge under section 9(4) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 subject to the appropriate approval, across all 3 divisions. This will enable successful candidates to sit in the High Court jurisdiction ahead of taking up appointment as a salaried High Court Judge.
In exceptional circumstances, where an unsuccessful candidate who has demonstrated the potential to be a High Court judge by the end of the final stage of selection, but is not considered ready for immediate salaried appointment, the selection panel may decide to recommend them to the Appropriate Authority for appointment as a s9(4) Deputy High Court judge, with a limited tenure of 4 years. Any such candidate recommended for appointment as a s9(4) Deputy High Court Judge will be additional to the number of those the JAC will be asked to make in the next exercise; and therefore any speculative applications are not appropriate. The JAC expects to be asked to run another, separate Section 9(4) Deputy High Court Judge exercise, early in the new year and candidates interested in this exercise should sign up for an email alert.
Sitting patterns and vacation duty
Candidates should note that High Court judges’ sitting patterns are tied to the dates of the legal year which are on the Judiciary website. Newly appointed High Court judges are expected to do vacation duty for a total of 6 weeks before they qualify for time off in-lieu. However, some flexibility is possible and new judges can arrange time off for important events before completing their duty in consultation with their respective Head of Division.
Outline of terms and conditions
Further guidance on the role
If, having read the remainder of this document, you wish to discuss the role contact: for QBD: Mr Justice Garnham (clerk Linda O'Regan 020 7947 6418), Mr Justice Morris (clerk Lisa Sanchez 020 7947 6714); for FD: Mr Justice McDonald (clerk Anita Knight 020 7947 6720 ); for Chancery: Mr Justice Birss (clerk Supriya Saleem 020 7947 7379), Mr Justice Nugee (clerk Gary Clark 020 7947 7200), Mrs Justice Rose (clerk Rebecca Sigrist 020 7947 6794). These judicial points of contact will be available during the application period. They have no input into the selection process, although they may be asked to act as referees for other candidates. Your enquiries would be an entirely confidential matter between you and them.
Read the Competency framework for a High Court Judge for the role before making your application.
Before you can be considered for appointment, there are eligibility requirements you must meet.
The JAC is required to carry out character checks on all candidates whom it intends to consider for appointment. This requires your signed consent.
A signed copy of the consent form should be completed and returned to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 November 2017. An electronic signature is sufficient.
On 4 August 2016 the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2016 came into effect. It allows for the full disclosure of all spent cautions and convictions to assess good character.
You must declare and disclose all past convictions and cautions, regardless of whether they are spent or unspent. Failure to declare any matters that come to light from the JAC's checks may prejudice the outcome of your application. Read the good character guidance before applying.
You may update the character section of your JAC profile at any time. This is your continuing responsibility throughout the process for any matter that may arise up to the point of appointment.
About the process
Following candidate feedback we have made 2 changes to this year’s process. This year:
- there will be a single process for all candidates, regardless whether the candidate has judicial experience; and therefore
- all candidates will be asked to complete a full self-assessment form, provide the names of 2 independent assessors (see below), and provide 2 significant pieces of written work. This written evidence can comprise legal advice, a legal opinion, or a document that demonstrates legal analysis such as a published article (as sole author), public lecture, judgment, ruling or anything else that you consider appropriate
Your online application plays an important part in the selection process, you must complete all required sections, ensuring the information you provide is clear and accurate.
The self-assessment section of the application is your opportunity to tell us about the experience and knowledge you have for the post. You must provide examples and evidence of why you feel your skills and experience are transferable into the post to enable you to perform effectively in the role. You should link your examples to the competencies required for the post giving regard to the job description. The self-assessment should not simply be a reiteration of your career history.
Please complete all required sections, ensuring the information you provide is clear and accurate.
Independent assessors are approached before shortlisting and the evidence they provide will inform selection decisions. Independent assessors will be contacted directly by the JAC on 22 November 2017. Read the guidance about independent assessments before completing your application. Independent assessments should provide evidence that you have the competencies relevant to the role. Please note the important information below:
Conflict of interest
The JAC Commissioners are listed on the JAC website; please do not nominate a Commissioner as an independent assessor. You should also state in the application form if you are in any way related to or known by any of the Commissioners and give details.
You are asked not to nominate an independent assessor whom you know is applying for the same exercise. Such an assessor will be conflicted and the JAC may ask you to find an alternative.
In addition please do not nominate the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, the President of the Family Division and the Chancellor of the High Court as they are statutory consultees. The judicial panel members for this exercise will be: Lord Justice Bean (QBD), Lady Justice King (FD), Lord Justice Newey (Chancery) and Mrs Justice Whipple (QBD). They should not be approached for independent assessments either.
The first stage is a paper sift. A sift panel, consisting of one Court of Appeal judge and one High Court judge, a JAC panel chair and a JAC lay member, will consider the information provided on your application together with the independent assessments. The sift will take place between 16 and 26 January 2018. Individual feedback will be provided after the shortlisting to candidates who are not called for interview.
More information about sifts
If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to a selection day. The interview will be enhanced with situational questioning to assess competencies that may not be tested by an interview alone. Ahead of the selection day, you may be provided with preparation material. On the day itself, you will be given one or more scenarios based on real-life, challenging, job-related situations. You will have further time to prepare your response before you meet the panel. The interview will consist of the panel seeking evidence from you against the competencies for the post. The overall assessment made by the panel is provided to the Commissioners when they make their selection decisions.
The selection days will be between 27 February and 19 March 2018 inclusive. You must be available to attend on one of these dates and should state your availability in the relevant section of the online application.
More information about selection day, including interviews
Statutory consultation is carried out in accordance with the Judicial Appointments Regulations 2013. For this exercise, the JAC will consult with the Lord Chief Justice, the President of the Queen's Bench Division, the President of the Family Division and the Chancellor of the High Court. The information provided by the Statutory Consultees will be used to inform selection decisions.
More information on statutory consultation
Salaried part-time working (SPTW)
SPTW and jobshare are available across all divisions. Final working patterns will need to be discussed and agreed between the successful candidate, relevant Head of Division and HMCTS at the time of appointment.
Salaried part-time working guide - addendum
Before you apply you may wish to read information on the Judicial Pension Scheme:
Judicial pensions note
New judicial pensions scheme
Judicial pensions scheme 1993
Appropriate induction training for candidates without previous judicial experience will be considered prior to appointment. Candidates appointed to QBD intending to sit in crime will need to attend the Serious Crime seminar on 5-7 September 2018 in Northampton and, unless they have already done so, will be required to attend the Serious Sexual Offences seminar in Warwick on 14-15 November.
Candidates with no experience of sitting in crime are also encouraged to attend the following seminars, both of which take place at Warwick:
- criminal case and trial management 1 and 2 October
- delivering judgments and admissibility of evidence rulings 3 and 4 October
Jurisdictional training and sittings in will be discussed and agreed individually with successful applicants on appointment.
After appointment, candidates will have access to the Judicial College training prospectus.
Equal merit provision
In line with its published policy, the Commission will apply the equal merit provision to this exercise. If the Commission, sitting as the Selection and Character Committee (SCC), considers 2 or more candidates to be of equal merit, a candidate may be selected for the purpose of increasing judicial diversity. The Committee will use the provision based on the data declared by candidates in the diversity part of their online application.
The relevant datasets that will be used to identify any under-representation are taken from the 2011 Census, detailed Characteristics, England and Wales (ONS 2012) and the diversity statistics showing the background of the courts judiciary (as of 1 April 2016), based upon primary appointment, as published on the Judiciary website.
The population of the United Kingdom (usual residents) aged 25 to 74 that are women is 50.4%, while BAME is 11.3%. The proportion of the High Court judges that are women is 21% and of those who declared their ethnicity 5% declared they were from a BAME background.
If the Committee has applied the equal merit provision, it may be presented with a situation whereby it is unable to choose between 2 or more candidates on the basis of their relevant protected characteristics. For example, 2 candidates assessed as being of equal merit may both be white men. If this situation arises, the EMP cannot be used to make a selection. Therefore the Committee will invite those candidates to a second interview, to enable it to make a selection decision. Dates for second interviews will be announced in due course.
Report to the Appropriate Authority
The Commission reports its final selections to the Appropriate Authority, the Lord Chancellor, who can accept or reject this recommendation, or ask the Commission to reconsider it. The Appropriate Authority may not select an alternative candidate.
Outcome of the selection exercise
Note that we will issue the results to successful and unsuccessful candidates who attended a selection day, at the same time. This will be done 3 to 4 weeks following the SCC meeting and by email unless you have indicated otherwise. We, therefore, expect to be able to inform you of the outcome of your application by the end of May 2018.
If you are unsuccessful following the selection day stage of the process, you can request written feedback. You should make this request within 6 weeks of the date of the letter informing you that you have not been successful. We will aim to respond to your request within 20 working days.
The JAC provides reasonable adjustments to ensure that candidates with disabilities are not placed at a substantial disadvantage. We will also consider making reasonable adjustments for those suffering from short-term injury or temporary illness. Details can be found in the JAC's reasonable adjustments policy.
If you have any questions regarding this role or your application, contact Kate Arrowsmith on 020 3334 0299 or Linda McCabe on 020 3334 6588.
Alternatively, email the team inbox: email@example.com