The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) is now inviting applications to fill 2 vacancies for the post of Senior Circuit Judge, Designated Family Judge
Launch date: 13:00 on Wednesday 29 May 2019
Closing date: 13:00 on Wednesday 12 June 2019
Number of vacancies: 2 vacancies
Number of applications: 5
Number of selections: 2. Further data on this exercise, including diversity data, will be published by the JAC as part of its annual official statistics bulletin.
Location: Northern Circuit: 1 post is based in Manchester, 1 post is based in Liverpool.
Salary: £145,614 - Salary Group 5
Overview of the role
The Designated Family Judge (DFJ) carries out significant leadership and management duties. Every Designated Family Centre has a DFJ who is responsible for it and for other family hearing centres in the area. They are responsible for leading all levels of the family judiciary (including other Circuit Judges as well as the district bench, the magistrates and legal advisers) at the courts for which they have responsibility, and for ensuring the efficient and effective discharge of judicial family business at those courts.
The DFJ assists the Family Division Liaison Judge for the circuit in ensuring that each Designated Family Centre and the courts in his or her area are run as efficiently and effectively as possible, within the resources they are allocated, and that the other family judges and the staff at those courts play their part in this. The DFJs will work closely with the Resident Judge and the Designated Civil Judge in their area to discuss and reach agreement on issues concerning the administration of justice across the jurisdictions.
Terms and conditions
Before you apply you may wish to read information on the Judicial Pension Scheme:
Judicial pensions - what you need to know
1993 Pensions Scheme Guide
2015 Pensions Scheme Guide
Successful candidates will be recommended to the Northern Circuit. Subject to the approval of the Lord Chief Justice, deployment to either the Manchester or Liverpool posts will be a matter for the Senior Presiding Judge/President of the Family Division. To assist with deployment candidates are requested to state their location preferences, if any, when applying. Advice on selecting locations and jurisdictions is available. Successful candidates will be required to periodically sit in other centres in accordance with their pastoral responsibilities. The dates by which appointments are required are as follows:
Manchester post: immediately
Liverpool post: September 2020
A Designated Family Judge must live within reasonable travelling distance of their main base. No application for a transfer may be made until a judge has served 5 years in the circuit to which they were appointed.
Section 9(1) authorisation
It is required that the successful candidate must already be authorised or be suitable for authorisation to the pool of judges upon appointment to act as a judge of the High Court under section 9(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981. Deployment to the High Court Division(s) will be a matter for the respective Head of Division. Candidates must declare on their applications if they already hold authorisation under s9(1), and if so, where.
The Presiding Judges have confirmed that these posts are not suitable for salaried part time working or job share. The importance of the workload is at such a level whereby the roles can only be performed by a person working full time. The positions requires constant daily and weekly attention to the huge variety of administrative and leadership responsibilities which cannot be divided between individuals satisfactorily or covered by deputies, apart from on an occasional basis during the holiday periods.
Salaried part-time working
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 section 16(3) of the Courts Act 1971, as amended by section 71 and Schedule 10 to the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, and by section 50 and Schedule 10 to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, no person shall be qualified to be appointed a Circuit judge unless—
(a) he satisfies the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 7-year basis;
(b) he is a Recorder; or
(c) he has held as a full-time appointment for at least 3 years one of the offices listed in Part 1A of Schedule 2 to the Courts Act 1971
The meaning of “gain experience in the 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 barrister or a solicitor.
In order to meet the statutory qualifications for appointment, a solicitor (or a salaried judicial office holder who was formerly a solicitor) must appear on the Roll.
Additional selection criteria
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. It should involve highly complex matters, requiring its members to objectively determine the facts, draw conclusions and reach a reasoned decision. Such decisions could result in the imposition of a penalty, and that 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 has demonstrated the necessary skills in another significant way should an exception be made.
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 Senior Circuit Judge should allow for a reasonable length of service. For this position it is usually 3 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.
Open for applications: 29 May 2019 at 13:00
Close for applications: 12 June 2019 at 13:00
Independent assessments requested: 13 June 2019
Deadline for the receipt of independent assessments: 27 June 2019
Outcome of shortlisting issued: Mid July 2019
Selection days: 2 or 3 September 2019
Outcome of selection days expected: End of October 2019
Read the competency framework for the role and the job description before making your application. There are 6 competencies in total that list the behaviours of a Senior Circuit Judge, Designated Family Judge 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
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 13 June 2019 and must be returned by 27 June 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 via 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 one judicial assessor and one professional assessor
- if you do not currently hold judicial office, you will need to nominate 2 professional assessors
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.
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.
Shortlisting is by way of paper sift, taking into account the information contained in your application and independent assessments.
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 President of the Family Division. The information provided by the statutory consultee will be used to inform selection decisions.
Information on statutory consultation
If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to a selection day. The selection days are scheduled for 2 or 3 September 2019 and will take place in London. Please make sure you are available on either date.
For this exercise the selection day will include 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 about the situational questions will be sent along with the invitation to selection day.
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 will be provided to the Commissioners when they make their selection decisions.
Information about selection day, including interviews, situational questioning, and presentation
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.
Shortlisted candidates will be sent a character consent form to complete.
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 11 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.
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.
According to the most recent census data, 50.4% of the usual residents of the United Kingdom aged 25 to 74 are women and 11.3% identify as being from a Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority (‘BAME’) background. As of 2018, 29% of Circuit Judges identify as women, and 4% of Circuit Judges identify as being from a BAME background.
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 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.
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 October 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.
Dependent on the successful candidates, training will be arranged accordingly.
The successful candidate will have access to the Judicial College training prospectus after appointment. They will also have access to the leadership programme run by the Judicial College.
If you have any questions about this role or your application, please contact a member of the selection exercise team:
Gemma Montgomery: Selection Exercise Team Manager, 020 3334 6946
Richard Collumbell: Senior Selection Exercise Team Manager, 020 3334 5587