The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) invites applications for Circuit Judge
Launch date: 13:00 on Wednesday 23 January 2019
Closing date: 13:00 on Wednesday 13 February 2019
Number of vacancies: The JAC received an amended vacancy request during the course of this selection exercise. There are now up to 50 vacancies (decreased from up to 80) as a result of the number of future vacancies being reduced. The JAC will recommend the most meritorious candidates for appointment. Information on location and jurisdiction is on this page.
Number of applications: 164
Number of selections: 42 (29 for immediate appointment and 13 for future appointment)
Salary: £137,538, salary group 6.1.
Overview of the role
Circuit Judges sit in the Crown and County Courts. It is the responsibility of the judge to exercise control over proceedings, both during the pre-trial stage and when presiding over the trial itself, ensuring the proceedings are conducted efficiently and fairly.
Judges sitting in the civil jurisdiction are expected to deal with the whole range of civil cases in the County Court, including: personal injury and clinical negligence claims, consumer credit and other cases involving personal debt, and housing and possession disputes, often involving actions by mortgage lenders or landlords.
Judges sitting in the crime jurisdiction are expected to deal with a broad range of criminal cases in the Crown Court. When presiding over a trial, a judge must balance the right of the defendant to a fair trial with the interests of the victims and witnesses. The judge must maintain order in the courtroom, and ensure the case is presented to the jury in a comprehensible fashion. The judge will also be required to pass sentence in the event of a guilty plea or conviction by the jury.
In the family jurisdiction, judges deal with a broad range of cases including those relating to financial relief, private children’s cases and public children’s cases. Following a contested family hearing it will be necessary to deliver a reasoned judgement, often extempore, making appropriate findings of fact and applying the law in a way which makes clear to the parties why the court has reached its decision. Family cases can involve high emotions which must be effectively managed by the judge.
Circuit Judges are part of a team; successful candidates will be expected to play a full part in the work of the team, assisting colleagues in dealing with the overall workload of the court and taking on ancillary roles as required.
Terms and Conditions
Judicial Pensions: What you need to know
Judicial Pension Scheme Guide 1993
Judicial Pension Scheme Guide 2015
Location and jurisdiction
A Circuit Judge must live within reasonable travelling distance of the courts at which he or she will sit. A judge will normally be required to serve 5 years on the Circuit to which they were appointed before consideration will be given to any application to transfer to another Circuit.
Some vacancies focus on one jurisdiction only, others are predominantly in crime, civil or family with some work required across other jurisdictions.
For those posts that are predominantly a single jurisdiction, candidates may wish to be aware (depending on experience and subject to business needs) that you will be expected to sit in other jurisdictions. This will be discussed upon appointment.
The HMCTS requirements have been amended to:
29 immediate vacancies (s87) across England and Wales:
- 14 crime or predominantly crime (a slightly higher proportion in London/South East, although opportunities are across all circuits.Note: that the Welsh speaking post is no longer required)
- 14 family or predominantly family (London/South East, Northern and North East Circuits)
- 1 civil or predominantly civil (London/South East Circuit or Midlands Circuit)
21 future vacancies (s94) across England and Wales:
- 7 Crime or predominantly crime
- 11 Family or predominantly family
- 3 Civil or predominantly civil
To note: at the time of launch, HMCTS requirements were:
29 immediate vacancies (s87) across England and Wales:
- 17 crime or predominantly crime (the majority are in London/South East, though opportunities are across all circuits. 1 vacancy in Wales requires the post holder to speak Welsh)
- 1 civil or predominantly civil (London/South East circuit)
- 11 family or predominantly family (London/South East, Northern, North East and Midlands Circuits)
Future vacancies (s94) across England and Wales: 51 future appointments covering all jurisdictions.
Your posting preferences
In your online application you are required to rank all of the circuits in order of preference. Please note that, whilst the Senior Presiding Judge will do their best to deploy candidates to their preferred circuit, it may not always be possible to do so depending on business need and you may, therefore, be offered an appointment to ANY circuit across England and Wales.
In circumstances where the preferences of candidates do not match vacancy requirements, the Senior Presiding Judge will take account of the order of merit to give those who are most meritorious priority of assignment to their preferred circuit.
Salaried part-time working
Salaried part-time working (SPTW) may be available for some posts subject to it having no material adverse impact on the business needs of the courts or the services to users. The availability of SPTW will be agreed locally by the senior judiciary and HMCTS subject to business need. Where SPTW is available, it can only be accommodated by working full weeks and in block periods of at least 6 weeks. You are required to state on your application if you are interested in SPTW. This information is collected for deployment purposes only.
To be considered for appointment you must meet the eligibility requirements. As we will not be assessing eligibility until after the shortlisting stage, it is your responsibility, and in your own interest, to ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements before submitting an application.
Under section 16(3) of the Courts Act 1971, no person shall be qualified to be appointed a Circuit Judge unless he or she:
(a) satisfies the judicial appointment eligibility condition* on a 7 year basis or
(b) is a Recorder or
(c) has held as a full-time appointment for at least 3 years one of the offices listed in Part 1A of Schedule 2 to the Courts Act 1971
*The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (TCE Act) introduced the ‘judicial-appointment eligibility condition’. You will have to show that:
- you have possessed a relevant legal qualification
- for the requisite period and
- that whilst holding that qualification you have been gaining legal experience
The meaning of "gaining legal experience" is set out in section 52(2) to (5) of the TCE Act and relates to a period engaged in law related activities. "Relevant legal qualification" means a barrister or a solicitor. In order to meet the statutory qualifications for appointment, a solicitor (or a salaried judicial office holder who was formerly a solicitor) must appear on the Roll.
Additional selection criteria
Candidates are expected to have previous judicial experience, sitting as a judge in a salaried or fee-paid capacity or a similar role such as the chair of an equivalent body for which a legal qualification is required.
An equivalent body is one of a quasi-judicial nature for which the powers and procedures should resemble those of a court of law and involve highly complex matters, requiring its members objectively to determine the facts and draw conclusions to reach a reasoned decision. Such decisions could result in the imposition of a penalty, and they are likely to affect the legal rights, duties or privileges of specific parties. Examples could include, but are not restricted to:
B. Disciplinary tribunals and conduct hearings for professional standards bodies
D. Parole Board
E. Chair of a statutory inquiry
The length of judicial experience required is a minimum of 30 completed sitting days since appointment, not including training or sick days.
Only in exceptional cases and if the candidate in question has demonstrated the necessary skills in some other significant way should an exception be made.
At the time of application, candidates must be either a:
- UK citizen
- citizen of another Commonwealth country
- citizen of the Republic of Ireland
Other European Union citizens are not eligible to apply.
Reasonable Length of Service
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 Circuit Judge must allow for a reasonable length of service of 5 years before retirement.
The Commission will make the decision as to whether a candidate will be able to provide a reasonable length of service.
Posts in Wales
Candidates for posts in Wales need to have an understanding, or the ability to acquire the understanding, of the administration of justice in Wales. This includes legislation applicable to Wales and Welsh devolution arrangements. This will be assessed at selection day.
You should note that the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 applies to this office. For further details please refer to the outline terms and conditions.
This will be required unless you are an existing salaried judicial office holder at group 6.1 and above.
Open for applications: 13:00 on 23 January 2019
Close for applications, including the self-assessment (5 competencies) and statement of suitability: 13:00 on 13 February 2019
Independent assessments requested: 20 February 2019
Deadline for receipt of independent assessments: 13 March 2019
Outcome of shortlisting issued: Mid June 2019
Character Consent Forms to be returned by: 13 February 2019
Selection days: 08 July 2019 to 29 July 2019
Outcome of selection days issued: November 2019
Throughout the exercise you will be assessed against the Competency Framework. There are 5 competencies in total that list the behaviours of a Circuit Judge who is performing the role effectively. Please read the competency framework and the job description before making your application.
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 demonstrate that you have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to perform effectively in the role; it should not simply be a reiteration of your career history. For each competency, you must provide specific examples from your own experiences, describing the situation, your role, what you did, and the outcome. You must be concise as you are limited to 250 words for each competency.
Guidance on completing the candidate self-assessment and choosing the best examples in your self-assessment
Jurisdictional information: Statement of suitability
When applying, you will also be required to complete a statement of suitability for each of the jurisdictions you apply for. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate how your knowledge and experience makes you suitable for appointment to the jurisdiction/s applied for.
Note that whilst you may apply for more than one jurisdiction, selections are made solely on merit and you will only be recommended to, and offered, one post. You should, therefore, consider your preferences carefully.
Guidance on completing a statement of suitability
For each jurisdiction you are applying for, in no more than 250 words, you must provide evidence of your experience and transferable skills to demonstrate how you have the ability to undertake the role described in the Jurisdictional Information. Further advice relating to each jurisdiction can be found below.
Candidates are advised to emphasise evidence of transferable skills such as: an ability to deal with regulatory issues, the mastering of technical regulation in a field, and an ability to demonstrate skills that would be especially useful in the areas of personal injury, consumer credit, and housing.
Candidates are advised to emphasise evidence of transferable skills such as: being able to manage difficult situations in a calm way that ensures all parties are reasonably satisfied with the outcome, the ability to make nuanced and balanced decisions speedily, and the ability to think expeditiously in a pressurised environment.
Candidates are advised to emphasise evidence of transferable skills such as: exercising control over proceedings and making reasoned decisions efficiently and fairly, proactive case management, and the ability to manage emotive participants who are often acting in person.
When applying, you will be required to submit contact details for your independent assessors. Please read the guidance about independent assessments before completing your application. Independent assessments will contribute to your overall assessment. They should provide evidence that you have the abilities relevant to the role as outlined in the relevant competency framework.
The JAC will seek independent assessments for all candidates on all 5 competencies. The JAC uses independent assessments as evidence of your suitability for the role. You should always nominate an assessor who can provide recent examples of your performance.
Independent assessments will be requested on 20 February 2019 and must be returned by 13 March 2019. Late independent assessments may not be considered, therefore you are advised to notify your assessors in advance that you intend to apply and inform them of the date we will be requesting the assessment.
Whilst there are four boxes for assessor details you are only required to provide a maximum of two assessors. If you provide more than two we will only approach the first two listed.
You must ensure the correct details (title and email addresses) are provided. All correspondence with your independent assessors will be by email. It is therefore imperative you ensure the details are correct to avoid any delays in your assessor being contacted. Please ensure you only nominate a maximum of two assessors in line with the categories below:
- if you are a fee-paid judge you will need to provide one judicial assessor and one professional assessor
- if you are a salaried judge you will need to provide two judicial assessors
- if you do not currently hold a judicial post, you will need to provide two professional assessors, one of whom may be a judge who is able to provide an assessment of your professional role
These are from someone who can provide evidence based examples of your performance in your profession against the competencies for this post. One of these professional independent assessors should ideally be your line manager, head of chambers, or equivalent.
These are from a relevant judge who can provide evidence based examples of your performance as a judicial office holder against the competencies for this post. These are required only if you currently hold a fee-paid or salaried judicial appointment. One of these judicial independent assessors must be your leadership judge, appraiser or equivalent.
Please do not nominate a JAC Commissioner as an independent assessor. In addition you should not nominate the Senior Presiding Judge or the Lord Chief Justice as independent assessors, as they are the Statutory Consultee and Appropriate Authority respectively.
If you have any queries about who to nominate as your independent assessors please contact the JAC to discuss further.
In accordance with the Judicial Appointments Regulations 2013, the JAC must consult a person who has held the office for which selections are to be made or who has other relevant experience. For this selection exercise the statutory consultee will be the Senior Presiding Judge (SPJ). The JAC will consult the SPJ concerning all candidates shortlisted for selection day. The information she provides will be used to inform selection decisions. To assist the SPJ, the JAC will share the information you provide under the 'Previous judicial or equivalent experience' heading in your application.
More information on statutory consultation
Shortlisting is by way of paper sift, taking into account the information contained in your application and independent assessments. The panel will assess the self-assessment and the independent assessments against the competency framework, and assess the statement(s) of suitability against the jurisdictional information.
If you are not successful following shortlisting, you can request written feedback by emailing the Selection Team on CJ_113@judicialappointments.gov.uk. You should make this request within 6 weeks of the email informing you that you have not been successful. We will aim to respond to your request within 20 working days.
More information about sifts
If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to a selection day which will take place in London between 08 July 2019 and 29 July 2019. We will not be able to accommodate selection days outside of this period.The selection day for this exercise will comprise of situational questioning and a competency based interview, where the selection panel will be seeking evidence from you against the competencies for the post.
The overall assessment by the panel is provided to the Commission when they make their selection decisions.
If you have applied for, and are shortlisted for, more than one jurisdiction, you will attend one selection day. You will be required to complete situational questioning for your preferred jurisdiction and a competency-based interview. Following this you will be required to complete situational questioning for each additional jurisdiction. Each set of situational questioning will require preparation in advance of selection day. Therefore carefully consider whether or not you wish to apply for more than one jurisdiction.
If you apply for and are shortlisted for a post in Wales, you will be asked additional questions during your competency based interview in relation to Welsh matters. This is to allow the panel to assess your understanding, or the ability to acquire the understanding, of the administration of justice in Wales, including legislation applicable to Wales and Welsh devolution arrangements. This will require you to undertake additional preparation in advance of selection day. If you are considered unsuitable for the posts in Wales, this will not affect your suitability for posts in England.
Additional information about attending a selection day
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. Candidates will have the option to outline their reasonable adjustment requirements on their JAC website account.
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 CJ_113@judicialappointments.gov.uk by 13 February 2019. Typed signatures are acceptable.
You should be aware that the JAC expects all character matters to be declared. Any matter that has not been disclosed by you and is brought to the JAC’s attention through its independent checks will be treated as your non-declaration of a relevant matter. You will have no opportunity to make further representations on any declared issue once the matter is before the Selection and Character Committee.
The JAC considers that it is your responsibility to ensure that any record concerning your character is accurate. Details of the bodies with whom JAC will make independent character enquiries are set out in paragraph 11 of the Good Character Guidance and you may wish to contact your professional body to ensure all matters recorded are known to you.
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 to the JAC 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.
You must continue to update the character section of your JAC profile. You have a continuing responsibility to disclose any matter that may arise at any time before you are notified of the outcome of your application.
Failure to disclose any relevant matter is likely to have an adverse effect on your application.
Equal merit provision
In line with its published policy, the Commission will apply the equal merit provision policy to this exercise. If the Commission, sitting as the Selection and Character Committee, considers two 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 2018), based upon primary appointment, as published on the Judiciary website.
According to the most recent census data, 50.4% of the usual residents of the United Kingdom aged 25 to 74 are women and 11.3% identify as being from a Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority (‘BAME’) background. As of 2018, 29% of Circuit Judges identify as women, and, as of 2018, 4% of Circuit Judges identify as being from a BAME background.”
The Selection and Character Committee will consider which candidates to recommend to the Appropriate Authority as set out in the Judicial Appointments Regulations 2013.
In order to consider a recommendation, the Appropriate Authority may request any information that was available to the JAC in making its recommendation. You should be aware that any information you provide in your application or during the selection process could be passed onto the Lord Chief Justice.
For this exercise the Appropriate Authority will be the Lord Chief Justice who can accept or reject a recommendation or ask the Commission to reconsider. The Appropriate Authority may not select an alternative candidate. The Lord Chief Justice will inform the Lord Chancellor of the recommendations.
Outcome of the exercise
Please note that we will issue results by email to all those interviewed at the same time. We hope this will be by the end of November 2019. If you are not successful following the selection day, you can request written feedback. You should make this request within 6 weeks of the email informing you that you have not been successful. We will aim to respond to your request within 20 working days.
If you are offered a post you will normally be expected to take up the post within 6 months.
Overview of the selection process
Training will be provided as required dependant on the successful candidates. In addition they will have access to the judicial college prospectus on appointment.
It is expected that candidates for Crime posts will either already be authorised to try cases involving serious sexual offences, or will be willing and able immediately to meet the criteria for such authorisation. The Serious Sexual Offences Induction seminar is a 2-day residential course.
It is expected that candidates for Family posts will either already be authorised to try cases in involving public family law, or will be willing and able to immediately meet the criteria for such authorisation.
If you have any questions about this role or your application, contact
Email enquiries: CJ_113@judicialappointments.gov.uk
You may also contact a member of the selection exercise team:
Ian Robertson, Selection Exercise Support, Ian.Robertson@judicialappointments.gov.uk, 0203 334 6918
Meena Islam, Selection Exercise Manager, Meena.Islam@judicialappointments.gov.uk, 07562433989
Matt Hastings, Senior Selection Exercise Manager: Matthew.Hastings@judicialappointments.gov.uk, 07784275268