The JAC invites applications for High Court judge.
Launch date: 13:00 on 1 October 2019
Closing date: 13:00 on 26 November 2019
Number of vacancies: up to 25
- at least 6 posts in the Chancery Division
- at least 3 posts in the Family Division
- at least 4 posts in the Queen’s Bench Division, with at least 1 post in the Technology and Construction Court (TCC)
Salary: Group 4 £188,901
Message from the Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC, MP
“The judiciary are at the heart of the Rule of Law; they uphold and exercise that every day in the judgments and decisions they make and in being called upon to make decisions on some of the most difficult moral and technical issues of our time.
High Court judges deal with the most significant cases in England and Wales, involving matters of important legal principle and potentially far-reaching public impact. Their decisions not only affect the parties immediately involved, they can also have a lasting impact on society as a whole.
We are looking for candidates with the exceptional intellectual ability, skills and experience to deal with these complex and highly important cases. The judiciary of England and Wales is respected throughout the world for its independence, integrity and quality. This selection exercise is an excellent opportunity for you to join that judiciary, to take on an intellectually stimulating role that also provides a vital public service. If you believe you can demonstrate the skills necessary to fulfil this important and rewarding position, I urge you to apply.”
Overview of the role
All the posts are based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. As the jurisdiction covers England and Wales, judges can be deployed to sit in courts in Wales that apply primary legislation different from the law in England. Although most sittings will be at the Royal Courts of Justice some of this work is undertaken outside London and can involve stays away from home. In cases where this causes personal difficulties, arrangements can be made with the appropriate Head of Division subject to business needs.
The High Court comprises 3 divisions: Chancery, Family and Queen’s Bench, and the jurisdiction of the High Court is indivisible in law and, irrespective of the division to which a judge is assigned, all judges of the High Court possess equal power, authority and jurisdiction. Accordingly, in response to the business needs of the court, judges may be required to sit in a division other than that to which they are assigned.
All successful candidates will be expected to offer a reasonable length of service, usually 5 years before the statutory retirement age of 70. The Commission will decide whether a candidate will be able to provide a reasonable length of service.
The Commission encourages diversity and welcomes applications from groups currently under-represented in the judiciary. The principles of fair and open competition will apply and recommendations for appointment will be made solely on merit.
More about life on circuit
For the Chancery Division, it is desirable for candidates to have, at minimum, expertise in business law, and desirable for them to have a background in one other area of the work of the specialist civil courts, namely the law of financial services, tax, competition, property, trusts and probate, regulation. Applications are particularly welcome this year from candidates with intellectual property expertise. Successful candidates must also be able to work or develop expertise in all aspects of the work of the Business and Property Courts.
For the Family Division expertise in any of the Division’s work is desirable. Family Division judges are expected to handle a variety of case work including the most serious public law care proceedings, International work (Hague Convention 1980 and non-Hague Convention); serious medical treatment of children, big money financial remedies (usually over £10 million) Court of Protection and, in particular, withdrawal of treatment and very serious medical issues for those lacking capacity as well as recognition and implementation of placements made in England and Wales by foreign courts under the Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults 1980. Injunctions to restrain publicity/allow publicity, radicalisation cases, surrogacy and International adoption.
For the Queen’s Bench Division expertise in any of the Division’s work is desirable, but most particularly in crime, planning, commercial law, technology and construction (TCC) law, media, and personal injury and clinical negligence.
Candidates who wish to be considered for a post in the Technology and Construction Court will need to have:
a) experience in this specialism
b) the requisite knowledge of the specialism
c) demonstrate the ability to transfer their knowledge and experience to the level of complexity of work undertaken in the High Court.
The nature of the work
The JAC will only recommend candidates of exceptional ability for appointment. In addition, candidates must be able to demonstrate that they are able to work or develop expertise in all aspects of the work of the relevant division. This ability must extend beyond legal skill and candidates should be able to demonstrate actual or potential management and leadership qualities.
The work of High Court Judges can extend far beyond judicial activity in court and many High Court Judges undertake leadership responsibilities as Presiding Judges, Business and Property Court Supervising Judges or Family Division Liaison Judges.
The Supervising Judges for the Business and Property Courts oversee B&PC business in the Circuits for which they are responsible. They provide a general point of contact between the specialist CJs and DJs who deal with BPC work, including Chancery work in those Circuits, the Chancellor of the High Court, the Presiders, and senior HMCTS officials, including managing important issues arising locally. They coordinate with Presiding Judges for the Circuits and relevant HMCTS officials (and other officials) on cross-jurisdictional policy, management and deployment issues. They also hear cases listed in the major centres in their Circuits. When not on Circuit, Supervising Judges sit at the Rolls Building.
In the Family Division, one High Court judge is appointed for each circuit as a Family Division Liaison judge whose responsibilities include judicial deployment, supervising the listing of Family Division work on circuit, co-ordinating the work of the Designated Family judges on circuit, and liaising with the local family judges at all levels.
The responsibilities of presiding judges in the Queen’s Bench Division include the exercise of broad supervision over the running of the courts on the circuit to which they are assigned, the deployment of High Court and Circuit judges in the circuit and attending to the well-being of the circuit judiciary.
Across all 3 divisions, High Court judges may be appointed to act as the Judge-in-Charge of a particular area of business or become involved in assisting the Lord Chief Justice and Heads of Division in the administration of a modern judiciary.
Section 9 authorisation and appointment
If not already authorised, candidates will require immediate authorisation as a Deputy High Court Judge under section 9(1) or appointment as a Deputy High Court Judge under section 9(4) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 subject to the appropriate approval, across all 3 divisions. This will enable successful candidates to sit in the High Court jurisdiction ahead of taking up appointment as a salaried High Court Judge.
In exceptional circumstances, where a candidate has demonstrated potential, but has not demonstrated that they are ready for immediate salaried appointment as a High Court judge, the Commission may decide to make a recommendation to the Appropriate Authority for appointment as a s9(4) Deputy High Court judge, for a term presently of 4 years. The JAC will run a separate s9(4) Deputy High Court judge exercise in the Spring of 2020. Candidates interested in this s9(4) exercise can sign up for an email alert.
Sitting patterns and vacation duty
The sitting patterns for High Court judges are tied to the dates of the legal year, which are on the Judiciary website. Newly appointed High Court judges are expected to undertake vacation duty for a total of 6 weeks before they qualify for time off in-lieu.
Salaried part-time working (SPTW)
SPTW and job share is available across all divisions. Final working patterns will need to be discussed and agreed between the successful candidate, relevant Head of Division and HMCTS at the time of appointment.
Salaried part-time working: a practical guide
Further guidance on the role
If you wish to discuss the role, these judges will be available during the application period. They have no input into the selection process, although they may be asked to act as independent assessors by other candidates. Your enquiries would be confidential between you and them.
- Chancery: Mr Justice Birss, clerk: Felicity Herdmen, 020 7947 7379
- Chancery: Mr Justice Nugee, clerk: Gary Clark, 020 7947 7200
- Family: Mrs Justice Knowles, clerk: Alethea McIntosh, 020 7947 7353
- Family: Mr Justice Williams, clerk: Rebecca Leharne, 020 7947 6224
- Queen’s Bench: Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, clerk: Susan Riley, 0207 947 6640
- Queen’s Bench: Mr Justice Garnham, clerk: Linda O'Regan, 020 7947 6418
Further guidance on salary
In addition to the advertised salary, High Court judges eligible for the Judicial Pension Scheme 2015 (JPS 2015) will receive a recruitment and retention allowance (RRA) of 25% of salary on the same basis as High Court 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.
Outline terms and conditions
New judicial pensions scheme
Judicial pensions scheme 1993
Judicial pension note June 2019
Preparing your application
The JAC expects that any candidate who aspires to this senior level will have taken steps before applying, to orientate themselves and their portfolio of work such that they can clearly demonstrate their suitability to be a High Court judge.
The JAC also recognises that preparing an application is a substantial task and will draw significantly on candidates’ time; it is not one that can be completed overnight. We recommend candidates start preparing their applications well in advance to ensure they put forward the very best evidence available to them. Specifically, we ask candidates to consider carefully which evidence best demonstrates their suitability for this role, including the examples of written work to be submitted as part of their application.
We have provided a table on transferable skills which may assist candidates who do not already sit or practise in the High Court jurisdiction in assessing their readiness to apply. This is not an exhaustive set of examples, but an attempt to help candidates measure whether their experience to date is at an appropriate level for appointment as a High Court judge.
Transferrable skills table
More on the application process for High Court judge: Application page
Eligibility and additional selection criteria
To be considered for appointment, you must meet the following requirements.
Statutory eligibility for this exercise requires candidates to satisfy the judicial appointment eligibility condition on a 7-year basis.
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 gained experience in law
The meaning of ‘gain experience in law’ is set out in section 52(2) to (5) of the TCE Act 2007 and relates to a period engaged in law related activities. ‘Relevant qualification’ means a solicitor or barrister in England and Wales.
You will be considered eligible as a solicitor when your name was first entered on the Roll kept under section 6 of the Solicitors Act 1974.
You will be considered eligible as a barrister:
- when you completed pupillage in connection with becoming a barrister or
- if you were not required to undertake pupillage in connection with becoming a barrister, when you were called to the Bar of England and Wales
If you were not required to undertake pupillage, you will need to provide details of why you were not. This will most likely be because you were called to the Bar prior to 1 January 2002. If you were called to the Bar after this date, you will only be eligible if you have completed or have been exempted from pupillage by the Bar Standards Board. If you have been exempted from pupillage, you will be required to provide evidence of this by the time applications close, otherwise you will not be eligible to proceed.
Previous judicial experience
The Lord Chancellor expects candidates to have previous judicial experience. This means 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.
The length of judicial experience required at the time of submitting your application is a minimum of 30 completed sitting days, not including training or sick days.
Where a candidate does not have the above experience, only in exceptional cases and if the candidate in question has demonstrated the necessary skills in some other significant way will an exception be made by the Commission. It is important to have an understanding of the complexity and demands of High Court work, relative to your current role or practice. Those who regularly handle highly-pressured, high volume, intellectually complex and legally challenging work but who are not judicial office holders, will need to be able to by exception, demonstrate the relevant transferable skills or experience.
At the time of application, candidates must be:
- a UK citizen
- a citizen of the Commonwealth or 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 judicial officer must allow for a reasonable length of service before retirement. Usually for these posts it is 5 years.
The Commission will make the decision as to whether a candidate will be able to provide a reasonable length of service.
Open for applications: 13:00 on 1 October 2019
Close for applications: 13:00 on 26 November 2019
Request for independent assessments: on receipt of candidate application but by no later than 10 December 2019
Eligibility checks being conducted: December 2019 and January 2020
Deadline for the receipt of independent assessments: 7 January 2020
Shortlisting: early February 2020. Notification to candidates: end of February 2020
Statutory consultation comments sought: mid-February to mid-March 2020
Selection days: Between 24 March and 30 April 2020
Character checks being conducted: May and June 2020
Outcome of selection process expected by: end of July 2020
The first stage is a paper sift. A sift panel, consisting of a JAC panel chair, one High Court judge (both of whom are JAC Commissioners), one Court of Appeal judge and a JAC lay member, will consider the information provided in your application together with the 2 independent assessments. The sift will take place between 4 and 14 February 2020. Individual feedback will be provided on request after shortlisting to candidates who are not invited to a selection day.
If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to a selection day. This involves an interview, and situational questioning to assess skills and abilities that may not be tested by an interview alone.
Ahead of the selection day, you may be provided with preparation material. On the day itself, you will be given three scenarios based on real-life, challenging, job-related situations. You will have time to prepare your response before you meet the panel.
The interview will consist of the panel seeking evidence from you against the skills and abilities for the post. All divisional preferences, including the TCC post, will be tested at interview. The overall assessment made by the panel is provided to the Commissioners when they make their selection decisions.
The selection days will fall between 24 March to 7 April and 21 to 30 April 2020. You must be available to attend on one of these dates and should state your availability in the covering letter to your application.
More on the application process for High Court judge: Application Page
All candidates must provide the contact details of 2 assessors in their covering letter of application.
Independent assessments should provide evidence that you have the skills and abilities relevant to the role.
Independent assessors are approached before shortlisting and the evidence they provide will inform selection decisions. The JAC will contact independent assessors on receipt of your application and by no later than 10 December 2019 to ensure that all assessors have a minimum of 4 weeks in which to provide an assessment.
Please note the important information in relation to avoiding the nomination of independent assessors who may have conflicts of interest.
Conflict of interest
The JAC Commissioners are listed on the JAC website; please do not nominate a Commissioner as an independent assessor. You should also state in the covering letter if you are in any way related to or known by any of the Commissioners and give details.
You are asked not to nominate an independent assessor whom you know is applying for the same exercise. Such an assessor will be conflicted and the JAC will ask you to find an alternative.
In addition, please do not nominate:
- Statutory consultees: Master of the Rolls, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, President of the Family Division, Chancellor of the High Court
- Judicial panel members: Lord Justice Green (Queen’s Bench Division), Lord Justice Baker (Family Division), Lady Justice Rose (Chancery Division) and Mrs Justice Falk (Chancery Division).
Independent assessments: guidance for candidates
The JAC is required to carry out character checks on all candidates whom it intends to consider for appointment. This requires your signed consent.
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.
The character section of your JAC profile can be updated at any time; it is your continuing responsibility to keep this up to date with any matter that may arise up to the point of appointment.
Read the good character guidance before applying.
Statutory consultation is carried out in accordance with the Judicial Appointments Regulations 2013. Information provided by the Statutory Consultees will be used to inform selection decisions. For this exercise, the JAC will consult the:
- Master of the Rolls
- President of the Queen's Bench Division
- President of the Family Division
- Chancellor of the High Court
Equal merit provision
In line with its published approach, the Commission will apply equal merit to this exercise. Equal merit provisions can be used at the shortlisting and final decision-making stages of a selection exercise where:
- 2 or more candidates are judged by the Commission to be of equal merit when assessed against the advertised requirements for a specific post; and
- there is clear under-representation on the basis of race or gender (determined by reference to national census data and judicial diversity data from the Judicial Office)
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 female is 50.4%, while BAME people comprise 11.3%. The proportion of High Court judges that are women is 24% and of those who declared their ethnicity 3% were from a BAME background.
If the JAC Commission, sitting as the Selection and Character Committee has applied equal merit to make a selection decision, 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 approach cannot be used to make a selection. The Committee will either invite those candidates to a second interview or employ another assessment tool, to enable it to make a selection decision.
Equal merit approach
Report to the Appropriate Authority
The Commission reports its final selections to the Appropriate Authority, the Lord Chancellor, who can accept or reject each recommendation, or ask the Commission to reconsider it. The Appropriate Authority may not select an alternative candidate.
Outcome of the exercise
All candidates will be informed of the outcome after the Lord Chancellor has responded to the Commission’s recommendations. We hope to notify you of the outcome of your application by the end of July 2020.
If you are unsuccessful following the selection day, you can request written feedback. You should make this request within 6 weeks of the date of the email informing you that you have not been successful.
Appropriate induction training for candidates without previous judicial experience will be considered prior to appointment.
For those appointed to the Family Division who do not have a family law background they can be accommodated on a public law seminar in the autumn of 2020.
For those appointed to the Queen’s Bench Division who do not currently hold those tickets, they will be required to attend, as appropriate, the murder induction and continuation seminar on 16 to 18 September 2020 and the serious sexual offences induction seminar on 30 November and 1 December 2020. Appointed judges without a criminal law background can also be accommodated on other criminal continuation seminars in the autumn of 2020.
Jurisdictional training and sittings in will be discussed and agreed individually with successful applicants on appointment.
The JAC provides reasonable adjustments to ensure that candidates with a disability are not placed at a substantial disadvantage. We will also consider making reasonable adjustments for those suffering from short-term injury or temporary illness.
Reasonable adjustments policy
If you have questions about this role or your application, contact:
- Jennifer Ballance on 020 3334 6376 (if unavailable please either email the address below or call the general enquiries line on 020 3334 0123 and ask to speak to a member of the Senior Appointments team)
- email the JAC at HCJ.email@example.com
Go to Application page