The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) now invites applications for Fee-Paid (Specialist Information Rights) Members of the Upper Tribunal assigned to the Administrative Appeals Chamber and First-tier Tribunal General Regulatory Chamber (Information Rights) jurisdiction.
Launch date: 13:00 on Thursday 15 August 2019
Closing date: 13:00 on Thursday 5 September 2019
Number of vacancies: 10 vacancies
Fee: £290.80 a day
Overview of the role
Fee-paid non-legal members sit with a First-Tier Tribunal Judge to determine appeals from decisions of the Information Commissioner made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Data Protection Act 2018/GDPR. The cases may concern access to information by a member of the public, or enforcement action taken by the Information Commissioner.
Non-legal members bring an important lay perspective to hearings, but are expected to have a sound professional knowledge of at least one of the main legislative areas. Professional experience of modern data handling including data analytics would be an advantage.
Non-legal members are expected to own their own laptops, suitable for use with an e-judiciary account. They are expected to have access to stable w-fi in a quiet location to enable them to hold Skype conferences with colleagues or to participate in e-learning.
Hearings are listed regionally, although the majority are held in London. Some hearings take place by video conference or by determination on the papers.
Whilst the appointment is to the Upper Tribunal, the majority of sittings anticipated for this role are in the General Regulatory Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal with the occasional opportunity to sit on appeals in the Administrative Appeals Chamber of the Upper Tribunal.
Fee-paid members can expect to dedicate approximately 30 days a year to tribunal business (including a minimum of 15 sitting days).
- attending training events (in person and by e-learning)
- reading case papers and preparing for hearings (paper or electronic bundles). Assimilating often complex legal and factual information
- participating in pre-hearing discussions with the Judge and a fellow member
- sitting in hearings, listening to oral evidence and submissions, asking appropriate questions
- respecting the confidentiality of closed material at all times
- participating in the panel's deliberations
- commenting on a draft written decision produced by the Judge and producing a written note about any points of dissent in a timely manner and according to agreed timescales
- expected to be IT-literate and to make the fullest use possible of electronic means of research and communications
- keeping up to date with Chamber guidance
- claiming fees and expenses in a timely manner
Terms and conditions
Memorandum of conditions of appointment
Tribunals Judiciary Practice Statement
Location and jurisdiction
Posts are UK wide, successful candidates will be expected to travel within the UK. Hearings take place particularly in London, Manchester, Leicester and Havant. Please note, this list is not exhaustive.
To be considered for appointment, you must meet the eligibility requirements for this post. It is your responsibility and in your own interest, to ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements before submitting an application. Eligibility will be assessed prior to selection days.
Statutory eligibility criteria
To be eligible for appointment you must meet the following requirements.
Candidates will be required to demonstrate substantial experience of the Data Protection Acts 1998 and 2018, and/or the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and/or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
Explanation of substantial experience
Substantial experience will be such as to demonstrate a familiarity with the law and good practice in these areas. Such experience is likely to have been gained in a professional setting either as a data controller or processor, or as an employee of a public authority, or by acting as a lay advisor. It is unlikely that experience of litigating before the Tribunal without more evidence would qualify a person for this role. Recent experience of modern data management techniques would be desirable.
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 Fee-Paid (Specialist Information Rights) Member of the Upper Tribunal assigned to the Administrative Appeals Chamber and First-tier Tribunal General Regulatory Chamber (Information Rights) 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.
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.
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.
Applications open: 15 August 2019, 13:00
Closing date: 5 September 2019, 13:00
Online qualifying test (if required): 24 September 2019
Independent assessments requested: 29 October 2019
Outcome of shortlisting process: late October 2019
Selection days: London 27 November to 3 December 2019, Manchester 27 to 29 November
Outcome of selection days: late February 2020
In your application, you are required to complete an eligibility statement to demonstrate, in no more than 250 words, how you satisfy the statutory eligibility criterion for this post. You should read the Explanation of Substantial Experience above before setting out your own experiences which demonstrate how you meet the criterion.
At the point of application, you will be required to submit contact details for your independent assessors. 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.
Independent assessments will be requested on 29 October 2019 and must be returned by 12 November 2019. Late independent assessments may not be considered. You are therefore advised to notify, where possible, your assessors in advance that you intend to apply and inform them of the period during which assessments will be sought.
You must ensure the correct details (title and email addresses) are provided because all correspondence with your independent assessors will be by email. Errors will cause delays in your assessor being contacted.
Please ensure you only nominate your 2 assessors in line with the categories below:
- if you are an existing salaried judge you will need to nominate 2 judicial assessors
- if you are an existing fee-paid judge you will need to nominate 1 judicial assessor and 1 professional assessor
- if you do not currently hold judicial office, you will need to nominate 2 professional assessors however for those who can only nominate 1 professional assessor an additional 1 personal assessor will be accepted
Judicial independent assessors
These are from relevant judges who can provide evidence based examples of your performance as a judicial office holder against the competencies for this post. One of your judicial independent assessors must be your leadership judge, appraiser, or equivalent.
Professional independent assessors
These are from people who can provide evidence based examples of your performance in your profession against the competencies for this post. One of your professional independent assessors should ideally be your line manager, head of chambers, or equivalent. You may also nominate a judge as a professional assessor, provided they are able to provide an assessment of your professional role against the competencies for this post.
Personal independent assessors
These are written by someone who can provide evidence-based examples of your suitability for the role against the competencies; a personal reference will normally be requested for non-legal roles only.
Please do not nominate a JAC Commissioner as an independent assessor. In addition, you should not nominate the Senior Presiding Judge as she is sitting on the selection panel, nor should you nominate the President of the Family Division as he is the Statutory Consultee.
If after reading the guidance above you are unsure of who you should nominate as an independent assessor, please speak to a member of staff using the contact details below.
The number of applications we receive will determine the means by which shortlisting decisions are taken. If the number of applications far exceeds the number of vacancies, an online qualifying test will be used to determine which candidates are invited to a selection day. If it is necessary, the online qualifying test will take place between 7 am and 9 pm on 24 September 2019. If fewer applications are received and an online qualifying test is not deemed necessary, shortlisting will be against the eligibility criterion only, taking account of the information provided in your eligibility statement.
All applicants will receive an email advising whether the Qualifying Test will be taking place, with joining instructions if appropriate, by 17 September 2019. If you have not received this email by noon on 18 September 2019 please contact the JAC immediately.
The qualifying test will consist of multiple choice Situational Judgement questions and will take 45 minutes.
If you are unable to sit the test on the dates specified above due to exceptional circumstances, please email 140FPUTAAC@judicialappointments.gov.uk and we will assess this on a case by case basis. Where relevant we will arrange for you to take the test on an alternative date (which will fall no more than a week after the original date).
All candidates should make the necessary arrangements to sit the test in a suitable and quiet environment ensuring consistent and reliable access to a stable internet connection.
Information about qualifying tests.
If you are shortlisted you will be invited to a selection day which will take place in London between 27 November to 3 December and Manchester between 27 November to 29 November. We will not be able to offer an alternative selection day outside of this period.
The selection day will comprise situational questioning and a competency-based interview. Situational questioning involves asking you what you would do in a specific situation, based on challenging, real-life scenarios. Further details of the situational questioning will be sent along with the selection day invitation letter.
Competency-based interviews require you to provide detailed examples of situations in which you have been involved (explaining what the situation was, what you did and what the outcome was) to demonstrate you possess the abilities relevant to the role. There are 5 competencies in total listed in the Competency Framework. The competencies list the behaviours of a Tribunal Service Member performing the role effectively.
Watch a video of a mock interview
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 Mrs Justice Farbey, Chamber Upper Tribunal President, AAC. 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 candidates with a disability are not placed at a disadvantage. We will also consider making reasonable adjustments for those candidates with a short-term injury or temporary illness. You may request a reasonable adjustment in your application.
Information on the reasonable adjustments policy
The JAC is required to carry out character checks on all candidates whom it intends to consider for appointment. This requires your signed consent.
You will be required to complete a character consent form as part of your application, you should ensure that all the relevant sections are completed in full. The JAC will only carry out these checks on candidates who are short listed to selection days.
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 17 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
The JAC will consider applying an equal merit provision at the shortlisting stages of this exercise and at the final decision-making stage, for the purpose of supporting greater judicial diversity’.
Guidance on the approach taken by the JAC to equal merit can found here.
In line with its published policy, the Commission will apply the equal merit provision to this exercise for women.
According to the most recent data*, 50.5% of the usual residents of the United Kingdom aged 25 to 69 are women and 10.8% identify as being from a Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority (BAME) background. As of 2019, 49% of other* non-legal members on tribunals identify as women, and 11% of other** non-legal members on tribunals identify as being from a BAME background.
*Mid-2017 Office National Statistics (ONS) estimates based on the 2011 census data
**using the Judicial Diversity Statistics 2019 and considering the category of other non-legal members on tribunals which covers Valuers, Dentists, Pharmacists, Optometrists, Farmers, Drainage specialists, financially qualified, Landowner, Lay, and other professional and service specialists.
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 Appropriate Authority.
For this exercise the Appropriate Authority will be the Senior President of Tribunals 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 email the outcome to those interviewed by the end of February 2020.
Following the initial shortlisting stage in this exercise by way of an online test, unsuccessful candidates will be provided with their overall percentage score across the test. The JAC will also produce a generic feedback report analysing how candidates performed overall. This report will also include information on the method of marking, including guidance and information on the distribution of marks available to applicants.
This report will be published on the JAC website. The JAC cannot provide bespoke feedback for individual candidates at the shortlisting stages; please do not make a request as exceptions will not be made.
Following selection day, the JAC will produce a generic feedback report analysing how candidates performed overall. This report will also include information on the method of marking, including guidance and information on the distribution of marks available to applicants. This report will be published on the JAC website.
Following selection day, unsuccessful candidates who are identified as narrowly missing out on recommendation will be offered individual feedback.
Training will be organised by the Chamber and details will be confirmed upon appointment.
If you have any questions regarding this role or your application, please contact a member of the selection exercise team:
Tom Wolfe, Selection Exercise Manager: 07562 434075
Rachel Billingham, Senior Selection Exercise Manager: 07887 413 589 - away until 8 October