Changes under the Crime and Courts Act 2013 start to take effect
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The Crime and Courts Act and its regulations improve the efficiency, transparency and diversity of judicial appointments.
The Act received Royal Assent in April 2013 and the relevant regulations commenced in September and October. Some of the changes are now in place and others require policies to be finalised and published over the next few months.
Working arrangements for judges
- Flexible working is now available in the High Court and above and opportunities to work flexibly will be clearly highlighted in each JAC selection process.
- Flexible deployment has been introduced so judges can more easily move between working in the courts and tribunals, to help judicial career development.
New selection processes
- The JAC will determine the processes to select a pool of candidates from which future authorisations as deputy High Court judges will be made. Circuit judges, Recorders and certain tribunal judges are eligible. The JAC will also determine our concurrence role in authorisations for circuit judges to sit in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division. The processes will be published on our website when they are agreed. Fundamental to the proposed new approach will be open and transparent processes that will provide opportunities for all eligible candidates to be objectively assessed. The policy for this is being finalised.
- The introduction of an 'equal merit provision' to clarify that where two persons are of equal merit, a candidate can be selected on the basis of improving diversity. During the summer, the JAC consulted widely on how this could be applied in practice and we are now developing a policy.
- The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice have joined the JAC in having a statutory diversity duty. They are now required to take such steps as they consider appropriate for the purpose of encouraging judicial diversity.
- For positions below High Court, the JAC is no longer required under statute to consult two judges with relevant knowledge of the judicial vacancies on the candidates it is minded to select. This 'statutory consultation' can be with one judge and for some vacancies, for example lay tribunal positions, no statutory consultation may be necessary.
- The Lord Chancellor's powers to accept, reject or ask for reconsideration of recommendations for judicial appointments below the High Court have been transferred to the Lord Chief Justice or to the Senior President of Tribunals for tribunal appointments. The Lord Chancellor will therefore focus on the more senior judicial positions. The only exception to this is tribunal appointments outside of the First-tier and Upper Tribunal structure (for example the Employment Tribunals), which remain with the Lord Chancellor.
- In line with the previous point, consultation with the Lord Chancellor has been introduced for appointments to the Lord Chief Justice, Heads of Division, and the Lords Justices of Appeal.
The make-up of selection panels
- There must now be an odd number of members for selection panels for senior judicial roles and those making nominations to the panels must have regard for the desirability of more diversity among panel members. There will also be a lay chair for the most senior appointments – President of the Supreme Court and Lord Chief Justice – and a better balance of lay and judicial influence in these decisions.
Composition of the JAC Commission
- The composition of the Commission will become more representative of the roles the JAC selects for and those who are eligible to apply for them. Going forward, one of the Judicial Appointments Commission's judicial members nominated by the judiciary (through the Judges' Council) will be a senior tribunal judge. Two Commissioner roles selected through open competition will also change. One of the two members from the legal professions could now be a CILEx Fellow and tribunal lay members may also apply for what was originally the lay magistrate Commissioner position.