The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) now invites applications for District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) in England and Wales.
Launch date: 13:00 on 5 March 2019
Closing date: 13:00 on 19 March 2019
Location: Vacancies are available across England and Wales, including specific shortfalls in Carlisle, Hull, Sunderland and London
Number of vacancies: 25 immediate vacancies
Number of applications: 95
Number of selections: 17
Salary: These posts are in salary group 7, £110,335. Post-holders in London are paid an additional £2,000 salary lead and an additional £2,000 London allowance
You should first consider whether you are ready to apply for this role, and so may wish to look at the Am I ready? tools on the JAC website.
Overview of the role
District Judges (Magistrates' Courts) are salaried members of the judiciary who hear cases in magistrates’ courts. They have a national jurisdiction throughout England and Wales. They are appointed by Her Majesty the Queen and have the authority to sit at any magistrates' court in England and Wales.
The District Judges’ main jurisdiction lies in the adult criminal court. Most also sit in the Youth Court with certain Judges ticketed to try young offenders for serious sexual offences. District Judges are also expected to sit in the Single-Family Court and to undertake prison adjudications. In addition, some District Judges:
- have jurisdiction to hear cases under the Extradition Acts. These same District Judges, by convention, conduct Mutual Assistance hearings under the Fugitive Offenders Acts
- are designated by the Lord Chief Justice to deal with matters under the Terrorism Act 2000
- are authorised to try cases which may result in unlimited fines
The Lord Chief Justice expects that District Judges will deal with cases across the full breadth of their jurisdiction, including in areas other than their own base court.
This exercise is open to solicitors and barristers in England and Wales and Fellows of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives with at least 5 years post qualification experience.
Terms and conditions
Judicial pensions guide 1993
Judicial pensions guide 2015
Additional pension note for DJ(MC)
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 salaried part time working will be agreed locally by the senior judiciary and HMCTS subject to business need at the time of appointment. Where SPTW is available, it can only be accommodated by working full weeks and in block periods of at least 6 weeks.
To be considered for appointment you must meet the eligibility requirements for this post. 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 s22(1) of the Courts Act 2003, as amended by para 38(2) of Schedule 10 to the Tribunal Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and by paragraphs 29 (3) of Schedule 13 to the Crime and Courts Act 2013, Her Majesty may, on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor, appoint a person who satisfies the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 5-year basis to be a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts).
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 experience in law
'Relevant qualification' means a barrister or solicitor in England and Wales or a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. The requisite period is 5 years and the meaning of “gain experience in law” is set out in s52(2) to s52(5) of the TCE Act 2007 and relates to a period engaged in law related activities.
In order to meet the statutory qualifications for appointment, a solicitor must appear on the Roll.
Additional selection criteria
Candidates must have knowledge of criminal law and procedure.
In addition to the Lord Chancellor’s policy regarding previous experience, candidates should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the jurisdiction to allow them to sit immediately after appointment.
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:
- Disciplinary tribunals and conduct hearings for professional standards bodies
- Parole Board
- 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.
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, including legislation applicable to Wales and Welsh devolution arrangements. This will be assessed at selection day.
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 District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) should allow for a reasonable length of service. For this position it is usually 5 years before retirement.
The JAC 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.
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.
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.
Open for applications: 05 March 2019 at 13:00
Close for applications: 19 March 2019 at 13:00
Independent assessments requested: 22 March and returned by 12 April 2019
Outcome of shortlisting process: Week commencing 17 June 2019
Provisional selection days: 17 July to 26 July 2019
Outcome of selection days: December 2019
You must read the Competency framework for the role and the job description before making your application. There are 5 competencies in total that list the behaviours of a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts) who is performing the role effectively.
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 to the post and why they will enable you to perform effectively in the role. You should link your examples to the competencies required for the post having regard to the job description. The self-assessment should not simply be a reiteration of your career history.
Guidance on completing the candidate self-assessment and choosing the best examples in your self-assessment
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.
When asked to provide details of your independent assessors you will see 4 boxes for the assessor details. However, you must give details of 2 assessors only.
Independent assessments should provide evidence that you have the competencies relevant to the role of a District Judge (Magistrates' Courts). Both of your assessors must, therefore, have sound and comprehensive knowledge of your work and 1 of your assessors should, ideally, be from your current employment. Whether you already hold judicial office will determine the category or categories of assessors you must nominate:
If you are a salaried judicial office holder, you will need to provide details of 2 judicial assessors.
If you are a fee-paid judicial office holder, you will need to provide details of 1 judicial assessor and 1 professional assessor.
If you do not currently hold a judicial office, you will need to provide details of 2 professional assessors.
A professional assessor could be:
- a senior partner or head of chambers if you are a solicitor, barrister or attorney
- a client, magistrate or local authority official if you are a sole practitioner
- a judge who is able to provide an assessment of your professional role
If you are a judicial office holder, a judicial assessor could be:
- the senior judge of the tribunal, court, jurisdiction or circuit where you sit most often or your appraising judge
You must ensure that all of the details (name, title and email address) are correct for both of your assessors. All correspondence with your assessors will be by email; it is important that the information you provide is correct to avoid any delay in the JAC being able to contact your nominated assessors.
Do not nominate the Senior Presiding Judge and the Lord Chief Justice as independent assessors as they are the Statutory Consultee and the Appropriate Authority respectively. Nor should you nominate a JAC Commissioner.
All candidates are advised to contact their independent assessors in advance of submitting their application. If you have any queries about who to nominate as your independent assessors, please contact the JAC.
Shortlisting is by way of paper sift, taking into account the information contained in your application and independent assessments. We will not be providing feedback to candidates from the sift for this exercise.
More information about sifts
As required by the Judicial Appointments Regulations 2013, the JAC is required to consult a person (other than the Appropriate Authority) who has held the office we are selecting for, or who has other relevant experience. In this exercise the JAC will consult with the Senior Presiding Judge. To assist the SPJ, the JAC will share the information you provide under the 'Previous judicial or equivalent experience' heading in your application. The information provided by the statutory consultee will be used to inform selection decisions.
Information on statutory consultation
If shortlisted, you will be invited to a selection day which will take place between 17 July and 26 July 2019. We will not be able to offer an alternative interview date outside of this period. Selection days are due to take place in London.
The selection day for this exercise will comprise of situational questioning and a competency based interview during which the selection panel will be seeking evidence from you against the competencies for the post. Situational questioning involves asking you what you would do in a specific situation, based on challenging, real-life scenarios. Further details of the situational questions will be sent along with the invitation to selection day.
The overall assessment made by the panel takes account of evidence from your application, the selection day, and independent assessments. This evidence will be provided to the Commission when they make their selection decisions.
Information about selection day, including interviews and role plays
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 in 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.
All candidates will be requested to complete a consent form which is included in your application form. The checks will only be requested on shortlisted candidates.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2016 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. Please 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.
Equal merit provision
In line with its published policy, the Commission will apply the equal merit provision to this exercise.
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.
The population of the United Kingdom (usual residents) aged 25 to 74 that are women is 50.4%, while 11.3% of the UK population identifies as being from a Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority (BAME) background. The proportion of District Judges (Magistrates' Courts) that are women is 35% and of those who declared their ethnicity 7% declared they were from a BAME background.
If the JAC 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 equal merit provision cannot be used to make a selection. Therefore the JAC will invite those candidates to attend a second interview, to enable it to make a selection decision. The second interviews, if required, will provisionally be held between
The Selection and Character Committee will consider which candidates to recommend to the Appropriate Authority as set out in the Judicial Appointments Regulations 2013.
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.
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 Appropriate Authority.
Outcome of the exercise
The JAC will issue results by email to all those interviewed at the same time. We hope this will be in December 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.
Training will be provided as required dependant on the successful candidates. In addition, they will have access to the judicial college prospectus on appointment.
Depending on the successful candidates up to 5 days sittings-in and observations may be required.
If you have any questions about this role or your application, please contact a member of the selection exercise team:
Email enquiries: DJMC115@judicialappointments.gov.uk
Telephone: Abdalla Bidu, 07540 258740
Selection Exercise Manager: Abdalla Bidu, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Selection Exercise Manager: Linda McCabe, Linda.McCabe@judicialappointments.gov.uk