The JAC has been asked to identify 2 candidates for the post of Assistant Judge Advocates General. One vacancy is immediate with the successful candidate required to sit mainly in Catterick, North Yorkshire. The other vacancy is expected to arise in the near future with the successful candidate either sitting primarily in Catterick, North Yorkshire, or in Bulford, Wiltshire. Regular travel to Military Court Centres in other parts of the country or abroad, sometimes at short notice, may be required subject to business needs.
Launch date: 13:00 on Tuesday 10 July 2018
Closing date: 13:00 on Tuesday 24 July 2018
Number of vacancies: 2 vacancies; one immediate vacancy and one vacancy expected to arise in the future.
Salary: These posts are in salary group 7: £108,171
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
The Judge Advocate General is Head of the Service Justice System. There is also a Vice-Judge Advocate General and several Assistant Judge Advocate Generals all of whom are civilians.
Most trials take place at Bulford, Colchester, Catterick and Portsmouth although cases can be heard anywhere in the world where the Armed Forces are operating, in particular at Aldergrove (N Ireland), Episkopi (Cyprus) and Sennelager (Germany).
The Court Martial is, for many, the most familiar aspect of the Service Justice System. It has global jurisdiction over all service personnel and civilians subject to service discipline (e.g. family members, civilian contractors, teachers and administrative staff when serving abroad) and hears all types of criminal cases including murder and serious sexual offences.
Serious matters, including both offences against the civilian criminal law and specifically military disciplinary offences, may be tried in the Court Martial, which is a standing court. A Judge Advocate conducts the trial which is broadly similar to a civilian Crown Court trial in all cases, even when dealing with a minor disciplinary or criminal offence.
The jury, known as the board, comprises between three and seven commissioned officers or Warrant Officers depending on the seriousness of the case. Having listened to the Judge Advocate’s directions on the law and summary of the evidence, they are responsible for finding defendants guilty or not guilty.
Following a finding or plea of guilty, the board joins the Judge Advocate to decide on sentence. The Court Martial has the same sentencing powers in relation to imprisonment as a Crown Court, including life imprisonment. Most of the sentencing powers in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 are also available in the Court Martial.
In addition to the Court Martial, the Service Justice System also incorporates the Summary Appeal Court and Service Civilian Court. All Judge Advocates also sit in the Crown Court.
Salaried Part Time Working and Job share is not suitable for this post. This is a full-time vacancy therefore a candidate working reduced hours in any form could not be accommodated due to the size of the jurisdiction and the requirement of continuity.
The nature of the post requires weekend duty rotas. The Court Martial is organised into two-week slots known as Assizes. This structure is necessary because serving members of the Armed Forces are taken from other duties to serve for a two-week period as a jury, known as a Board.
Any change to the current working pattern will affect the Assizes causing delay and disadvantaging court users.
Terms and conditions
1993 Pension guide
2015 Pension guide
Judicial Pension note
Location and jurisdiction
There is a strong possibility that these roles will be based in Catterick, North Yorkshire or in Bulford, Wiltshire, but with proposals for court estate rationalisation under discussion this is not yet a certainty. Regular travel to Military Court Centres in other parts of the country or abroad, sometimes at short notice may be required subject to business needs.
To be considered for appointment you must meet the eligibility requirements for this post.
Assistant Judge Advocates General are appointed by the Lord Chancellor under Section 30 of the Courts-Martial (Appeals) Act 1951.
Under Section 31(2) of the Courts-Martial (Appeals) Act 1951, as amended, you must be:
(a) a person who satisfies the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 5-year basis
(b) an advocate in Scotland of at least 5 years' standing, or a solicitor who has had a right of audience in the Court of Session and the High Court of Judiciary for at least 5 years, or
(c) a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland of at least 5 years' standing.
The judicial-appointment eligibility condition is defined in Sections 50-52 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.
The meaning of “gain experience in law” is set out in section 52(2) to (5) of the above Act and relates to a period engaged in law related activities.
“Relevant qualification” means a solicitor, a barrister.
The Lord Chancellor expects that candidates for salaried posts will have sufficient directly relevant previous judicial experience. 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.
The meaning of “directly relevant experience” is sitting as a judge in a salaried or fee-paid capacity. For fee-paid judges at the point of application, the length of directly relevant previous judicial experience should be a minimum 30 completed sitting days, not including days taken for training purposes or sickness, since appointment in a fee paid capacity.
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 should allow for a reasonable length of service. For this position it is usually five 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: 13:00 Tuesday 10 July 2018
Closing date for applications: 13:00 Tuesday 24 July 2018
Independent Assessments requested: Monday 30 July returned by 13 August 2018
Outcome of short listing process: Mid September 2018
Provisional selection days: Wednesday 03 and Thursday 04 October 2018
Outcome of selection days: Mid November 2018
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 Assistant Judge Advocates General 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.
[Note: When composing your self-assessment we recommend that you press the 'Save and Continue' button every few minutes to prevent data loss should you lose your connection to the JAC website. Alternatively, you can compose your answers offline, and then cut-and-paste them into the online application once you are satisfied with your answers].
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.
Guidance on completing the candidate self-assessment and choosing the best examples in your self-assessment
Independent assessments are required before the sift takes place and the material they provide will inform decisions throughout the process and the final selection decisions made by Commissioners. The independent assessment requests will be sent on the 30 July 2018 and your assessors will have 2 weeks to provide their assessment. Assessors should be people who are well placed to comment on how you meet the competencies. Please do not nominate a JAC Commissioner as an assessor. In addition you should not nominate HHJ Jeff Blackett or the Senior Presiding Judge, Lady Justice Macur, as assessors as they are the judicial panel member and the statutory consultee respectively. For full details of the assessor categories, please read the assessors guide before completing your application. Independent assessments will contribute to your overall assessment. They should provide evidence that you have the relevant competencies for the role.
Whilst there are 4 boxes for assessor details you are required to provide details of 2 only.
You must ensure the correct details (title and email addresses) are provided. All correspondence with your independent assessors will be via email; therefore it is imperative you ensure the details are correct to avoid any delays in your assessor being contacted. Please ensure you only nominate your 2 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; the judicial assessor should be the judge who can provide examples most relevant to the role for which you are applying
- if you are a salaried judge you will need to provide 2 judicial assessors
- if you do not currently hold a judicial post, you will need to provide 2 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.
A professional assessor could be:
- a senior partner or head of chambers if you are a solicitor or a barrister
- a client, magistrate or local authority official if you are a sole practitioner
- a line manager or former colleague or client
- a judge who is able to provide an assessment of your professional role
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.
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
- the Lord Justice Clerk
If you have any queries about who to nominate as your independent assessors please contact the JAC to discuss further.
The first stage is a paper sift. A sift panel, consisting of HHJ Jeff Blackett, 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 late August 2018. Individual feedback will be provided after the shortlisting to candidates who are not called for interview.
More information about sifts
If shortlisted, you will be invited to a selection day which will take place in London between 3 and 4 October 2018. We will not be able to offer an alternative interview outside of this period.
For this exercise the competency based interview will be enhanced with situational questioning to assess competencies that may not be tested by an interview alone. The situational questions will relate to the role of the Assistant Judge Advocates General role. 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 with reading materials will be sent along with the invitation to selection day. The overall assessment made by the panel, which takes account of evidence from your application, the selection day, statutory consultation and independent assessments will be provided to the Commissioners when they make their selection decisions.
More information about selection day, including interviews
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 Lady Justice Macur, Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales. The information provided by the statutory consultee will be used to inform selection decisions.
Information on statutory consultation
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 AJAG121@judicialappointments.gov.uk by 26 July 2018.
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. 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 tribunals (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 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 Chancellor.
For this exercise the Appropriate Authority will be the Lord Chancellor who can accept or reject a recommendation or ask the Commission to reconsider. The Appropriate Authority may not select an alternative candidate.
Outcome of the exercise
The JAC will issue results by email to all those interviewed at the same time. We expect this will be mid to late November 2018.
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.
It is expected that AJAGS will either be authorised to try cases involving serious sexual offences or willing and able immediately to meet the criteria for such authorisation. The dates for the serious sexual offences seminar are either 12 and 13 November 2018 or 28 & 29 January 2019. This is a 2-day residential event.
If you have any questions regarding this role or your application, please contact AJAG121@Judicialappointments.gov.uk or a member of the selection exercise team:
Ian Robertson, Selection Exercise Team, firstname.lastname@example.org, 020 3334 6918
Stuart Hoare, Selection Exercise Team Manager, Stuart.Hoare@judicialappointments.gov.uk, 020 3334 0283
Rachel Porter, Senior Selection Exercise Team Manager, Rachel.Porter1@judicialappointments.gov.uk 020 3545 8586