The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) now invites applications for the post of Judge Advocate General.
Location: Royal Courts of Justice, London (Regular travel to Military Court Centres in other parts of the country or abroad, sometimes at short notice, is required subject to business needs).
Launch date: 13:00 on 19 November 2019
Closing date: 13:00 on 3 December 2019
Number of vacancies: 1 immediate vacancy
Salary: £151,497 (salary group 5).
The JAC has reviewed the selection exercise process for Leadership posts. Candidates will be assessed at every stage of the selection process against the Leadership Skills and Abilities Framework which are based on the Judicial Skills and Abilities Framework used by the judiciary and the Judicial College.
The selection exercise process for Leadership exercises involves candidates:
- being assessed against a concise list of the required skills and abilities for Leadership posts;
- providing a statement of suitability detailing how you demonstrate the skills and abilities; and
- providing a brief factual CV.
Further detail is included in the submitting your application section below.
Overview of the role
The Judge Advocate General has a range of important functions and responsibilities which are discharged either directly, through the Vice Judge Advocate General, Deputy Judge Advocate General or Assistant Judge Advocate Generals, or by the staff of the Judicial Office. These responsibilities fall into three broad areas:
- Sitting in the Service Courts. The Judge Advocate General is expected to sit on important cases conducting some of the most serious, sensitive or controversial trials and cases involving complex legal issues. The Judge Advocate General specifies judge advocates to each trial.
- Leadership. The Judge Advocate General is the leadership judge in the Service Courts - issuing directions on practice, procedure and sentencing guidelines; leading on developing the capability of the Service judiciary, ensuring appropriate arrangements for their welfare, training and guidance; and representing the views of the independent judiciary to the Government on Service Justice Board (SJS) operational and policy issues.
- Governance. Advising the SJS; chairing the Service Courts Rules Committee; monitoring the workings of the Court Martial to advise on efficiency and effectiveness; giving evidence to Parliamentary committees; and maintaining records.
Service law (predominately the Armed Forces Act 2006) governs the investigation, arrest, pre-trial detention, trial and punishment of offenders who are subject to it – i.e. service personnel and, overseas, civilians who accompany the Armed Forces. Such persons can be tried for purely service offences, triable only in the service courts, but it is also an offence against service law (AFA06 s42) to do anything, anywhere in the world which is against the ordinary criminal law of England and Wales. Where dual jurisdiction arises in England and Wales the decision as to whether the accused is tried in a civilian or service court is subject to a protocol between the Director of Service Prosecutions and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Judge Advocate General must be authorised to try cases involving serious sexual offences, and be willing and able immediately to meet the criteria for authorisation to try cases involving homicide.
The courts which are known collectively as “service courts” are the Court Martial (a standing court), the Service Civilian Court and the Summary Appeal Court. There is no statutory restriction on where service courts may sit, although the majority of them do so in the United Kingdom, Germany and Cyprus. Lesser offences can be the subject of summary dealing by the accused’s commanding officer. In such cases the accused has an unfettered right of appeal to the Summary Appeal Court (SAC). The SAC conducts a rehearing, and is composed of a Judge Advocate and two officers or warrant officers. More serious offences are dealt with in the Court Martial which is similar to a Crown Court trial although the size and membership of the Board (the military equivalent of a jury) is different (between three and seven depending on seriousness of the offence and duration of the trial).
Whilst some military background or previous experience of the Service Justice System as a Judge Advocate or legal practitioner is desirable, it is not essential.
This post is in salary group 5. In addition to the advertised salary, the Judge Advocate General, who is eligible for the Judicial Pension Scheme 2015 (JPS 2015) will receive a recruitment and retention allowance (RRA) of 15% of salary on the same basis as Circuit Judges currently in receipt of this allowance. The RRA is a targeted and temporary allowance. It is taxable, non-pensionable and liable for National Insurance contributions. It will be paid monthly on a pro rata basis. The RRA has been introduced to address a serious recruitment problem while work continues to develop a sustainable, long-term solution which would include pension scheme changes. To facilitate the payment of the RRA the successful applicant will also be appointed as a Circuit Judge, if they do not already hold this post. The terms and conditions of the JAG will apply for this appointment.
Terms and Conditions
Location and jurisdiction
The Judge Advocate General is expected to live within reasonable travelling distance of the London office of the Judge Advocate General.
Hearings normally take place at two court centres at Bulford (near Salisbury) and Catterick (in North Yorkshire). On occasion hearings also take place in other locations in the UK such as Portsmouth or Colchester and overseas in Cyprus, Northern Ireland and Germany. All judges should expect to undertake one or two overseas assizes each year.
Occasionally in the past cases have also been heard in places where UK armed forces have been based, for example Belize, the USA and the Falkland Islands, but these are much less common.
Salaried part-time working
Salaried part-time working 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 will require the Judge Advocate General to undertake 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.
The successful candidate will be eligible to be a member of either the Judicial Pension Scheme 2015 (JPS 2015), which became operational on 1 April 2015, or the judicial pension scheme established under the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act (JUPRA) 1993.
Which pension scheme is applicable is determined by eligibility criteria, specifically your age as at 1 April 2012 and whether you have previously held judicial office or have prior eligible public service pension scheme membership.
Judicial Pensions What you need to know
Judicial Pension Scheme Guide 1993
Judicial Pension Scheme Guide 2015
To be considered for appointment, you must meet the eligibility requirements for this post. As we will not be assessing eligibility until after shortlisting in January 2020, it is your responsibility, and in your own interests, to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements before submitting an application.
Under section 31(1) of the Courts-Martial (Appeals) Act 1951 as repealed and amended by the Armed Forces Act 2006, no person shall be qualified for appointment as Judge Advocate General unless they are:
(a) a person who satisfies the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 7-year basis;
(b) an advocate in Scotland of at least 7 years’ standing, or a solicitor who has had a right of audience in the Court of Session or the High Court of Justiciary for at least 7 years;
(c) a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland of at least 7 years’ standing;
(d) the Vice Judge Advocate General; or
(e) an Assistant Judge Advocate General.
(2) Before recommending a person for appointment as Judge Advocate General, the Lord Chancellor shall take steps to satisfy himself that the health of the person proposed to be recommended for appointment, or to be appointed, as the case may be, is satisfactory.
As noted above, the successful candidate will also be appointed as a Circuit Judge, if they do not already hold this post. Under section 16(3) of the Courts Act 1971, no person shall be qualified to be appointed a Circuit Judge unless:
(a) they satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 7-year basis;
(b) they are a Recorder; or
(c) they have held as a full-time appointment for at least 3 years one of the offices listed in Part IA of Schedule 2 to the Courts Act 1971.
In order to satisfy the “judicial-appointment eligibility condition”, you will have to show that:
- you have possessed a relevant legal qualification;
- for the requisite period (in this case 7 years); 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 Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and relates to a period engaged in law related activities. “Relevant legal qualification” means a barrister or a solicitor in England or Wales.
Additional Selection Criteria
Candidates are expected to have previous judicial experience, sitting as a judge in a salaried or fee-paid capacity, or in 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.
Information for candidates concerning interpretation of the additional selection criteria
If you are not a judge in either a salaried or fee-paid capacity with at least 30 sitting days experience, you should carefully consider whether you have experience in a role which is deemed sufficiently akin to that of a judge.
As the criteria explains, such roles are expected to be quasi-judicial in nature with powers and procedures resembling those of a court of law requiring its members objectively to determine the facts and draw conclusions to reach a reasoned decision. If a legal qualification is not a requisite for the appointment you hold it is less likely that the JAC will consider the criteria to be met. The same is true if you operate in a court or similar setting but as an advisor or member of a panel rather than a panel chair/decision maker.
Under such circumstances, you should consider whether you have demonstrated the skills of a judge in some other significant way.
It will be for the JAC to determine whether a candidate without judicial experience has sufficient directly relevant experience in an equivalent body or whether the candidate’s case is so exceptional that it warrants exception.
At the time of application, candidates must be either a:
- UK citizen;
- citizen of another Commonwealth country; or
- citizen of the Republic of Ireland.
Other European Union citizens are not eligible to apply.
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 the Judge Advocate General should allow for a reasonable length of service. In this instance, the successful candidate would be expected to provide a reasonable length of service of 5 years before their 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.
Open for applications: 13:00 on 19 November 2019
Close for applications: 13:00 on 3 December 2019
Independent assessments requested: 6 January 2020
Deadline for the receipt of independent assessments: 20 January 2020
Shortlisting: end of January 2020, notification to candidates: end of March 2020
Eligibility checks being conducted: March 2020
Issue invitations to selection day: March 2020
Character checks being conducted: March 2020
Statutory consultation comments sought: March 2020
Selection days: 27 April 2020
Outcome of selection process expected by: June 2020
Submitting your application
Applications will open at 13:00 on 19 November 2019 via the exercise application page. Read the Skills and Abilities for the role and the Job Description before making your application.
Your application will comprise 3 elements:
1) A brief factual CV in a format of your choice but of no more than 2 sides of A4 (Arial, size 11).
2) Your JAC website profile, which includes a brief outline of your legal experience and career history.
3) A statement of suitability against the skills and abilities.
Candidates should use the brief factual CV as an opportunity to draw the panel’s attention to the standout moments in their career; specifically pulling out the things that have provided you with the experience and skills necessary to apply for the post of Judge Advocate General. Details could include:
- key achievements in particular posts;
- any areas of the law in which they have specialised in particular posts;
- notable cases the candidate has been involved in, either as a Judge or as a practitioner; or
- wider portfolio work, or other activities outside of their main job, particularly where these are relevant to the role.
In contrast, the legal experience and career history section of your JAC online profile provides the panel with a brief factual and chronological timeline of your career to date, but does not offer the same opportunity as the CV to unpack specific cases or specific roles that provide evidence of your ability to transfer your skills to the post.
Details in the CV and JAC online profile do not need to provide direct evidence against the Skills and Abilities.
Your statement of suitability will provide you with the opportunity to evidence how you demonstrate the required skills and abilities. There is a 400-word limit for each section. You should explain how and why you consider your expertise, personal qualities and experience provide evidence of your suitability for the post. This is an important part of your application because the panel assesses the information in your statement of suitability against the skills and abilities to determine whether you meet the requirements of the post. You must provide the panel with enough information to make a decision.
- read the skills and abilities to understand what you need to demonstrate;
- consider how your own experience relates to or is transferable to the skills and abilities;
- reflect on roles, tasks and situations in which you demonstrated those skills and abilities; and
- select specific examples that best demonstrate the skills and abilities as they are set out.
Your legal experience, career history and statement of suitability are submitted via the JAC website as part of your online application. To submit your CV you must send it via email to JAG147@judicialappointments.gov.uk before 13:00 3 December 2019. Please ensure the subject header includes your full name. The JAC will confirm receipt of your CV.
Your application for the post will not be considered submitted unless we have confirmed receipt of all 3 elements of your application.
At the point of application, 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 possess the skills and abilities relevant to the role.
Independent assessments will be requested on 6 January 2020 and must be returned by 20 January 2020. Late independent assessments may not be considered. You are therefore strongly advised to notify your assessors in advance of submitting your application 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 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.
Judicial independent assessors
These are relevant judges who can provide evidence based examples of your performance as a judicial office holder against the skills and abilities for this post. One of your judicial independent assessors must be your leadership judge, appraiser, or equivalent.
Professional independent assessors
These are people who can provide evidence based examples of your performance in your profession against the skills and abilities 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 skills and abilities for this post.
Please do not nominate a JAC Commissioner as an independent assessor. In addition, please do not nominate Lady Justice Thirlwall, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, the Lord Chancellor, or the Lord Chief Justice as they are the statutory consultee, judicial panel member and the Appropriate Authorities respectively.
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.
Candidates will be shortlisted for invitation to selection day by way of a paper sift which will take place at the end of January 2020. A sift panel, consisting of a JAC panel chair, a judicial panel member, and a JAC independent panel member will consider the evidence contained in your application form and in the independent assessments received.
Outcome of shortlisting
The outcome of shortlisting will be emailed to candidates by the end of March 2020. Candidates who are not shortlisted will be able to request written feedback on their application.
If you are shortlisted you will be invited to attend a selection day which is scheduled to take place on 27 April 2020 in London. Please ensure that you are available on this date. Alternative dates cannot be accommodated.
The selection day will comprise situational questioning and an interview where the selection panel will be seeking evidence from you against the skills and abilities for the post. Situational questioning involves asking you what you would do in a specific situation, based on challenging, real life scenarios. The panel will use the evidence you provide at selection day and within your application, as well as statutory consultation and independent assessments to make an overall assessment which is provided to the Commissioners when they make their selection decisions.
Further details on what will be required of a candidate on selection day will be sent with the invitation to attend selection day.
More information about selection day, including situational questioning and interview
The JAC is required by the Judicial Appointments Regulations 2013, 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 Thirlwall. The information provided by the statutory consultees will be used to inform selection decisions.
Information on statutory consultation
The JAC provides reasonable adjustments to ensure that candidates with a disability are not placed at a disadvantage. We will also consider making reasonable adjustments for those suffering from 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.
All candidates will be required to complete a digital form which will be included as part of your application.
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
In line with its published policy, the Commission will apply the equal merit provision to this exercise. Guidance on the approach taken by the JAC to equal merit can found here.
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 2019), 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 Judge Advocates/Deputy Judge Advocates that are women is 0% and of those who declared their ethnicity, 0% 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 two 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 Committee will invite those candidates to a second interview, to enable it to make a selection decision. The second interview would be in June 2020.
The Selection and Character Committee will consider which candidates to recommend to the Appropriate Authorities as set out in the Judicial Appointments Regulations 2013.
In order to consider a recommendation, the Appropriate Authorities - which in this exercise is the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice - 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 on to the Lord Chancellor or Lord Chief Justice.
The Appropriate Authorities can accept or reject a recommendation or ask the Commission to reconsider, but 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 hope this will be by the end of June 2020.
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 dependent on the successful candidate. In addition, they will have access to the Judicial College prospectus on appointment.
Unless you are an existing salaried judicial office holder at group 6.1 and above, a medical examination is required.
If you have any questions about this role or your application, please contact the selection exercise team:
Email enquiries: JAG147@judicialappointments.gov.uk
Emaline Faucher: Selection Exercise Manager, 07562433992
Matt Hastings: Senior Selection Exercise Manager, 07784275268