Independent assessments (previously known as references) allow people who know candidates' work to provide evidence of how they meet the standard required for effective performance in a judicial post. The competency framework sets out the required standard.
For some non-legal exercises, the term ‘references’ will still be in use. There is no change in the way the JAC uses these assessments. The guidance on this page applies to all JAC exercises regardless of the terminology used.
The JAC uses independent assessments:
- as a source of evidence to assess the merit of candidates
- to verify candidates are of good character
- to identify issues to explore further during selection
It is not appropriate for you to be an assessor if, for example, you are related to the candidate or you are a candidate in the same exercise. If this applies to you, do not complete the independent assessment and contact the JAC.
How independent assessments are used
Your comments will be read by selection panellists who will treat them as a source of evidence when they assess candidates.
Where appropriate, quotes and evidence from independent assessments may be used in reports for JAC Commissioners, statutory consultees and the Appropriate Authority making the appointment.
Types of assessor and independent assessment
Candidates must provide details of 2 assessors (previously known as referees), who are either professional, judicial or personal.
The JAC uses different forms depending on the role(s) currently held by the candidate:
- professional: assessors are asked to comment on the performance of a candidate in their professional (non-judicial) capacity
- judicial: assessors are asked to comment on the performance of a candidate in their judicial capacity
- personal: assessors are asked to comment on the performance of a candidate against the competencies for the role
How to complete the form
You will be asked to provide evidence of the candidate’s performance against each competency area listed on the independent assessment form.
Use the competency headings as indicators of the performance your evidence should cover.
You should provide specific examples, such as: “There was an occasion when the candidate analysed material quickly, namely the case of X when he/she...”
The SOAR model
You may find it useful to base your answers on the SOAR model:
- Situation: briefly explain a situation the candidate was directly involved in that resulted in a distinctive outcome
- Objective: briefly describe what the candidate had to achieve
- Action: describe the action the candidate took and how he/she achieved the objective. This section provides the most important evidence and should be the focus of your answer.
- Result: describe the outcome of the candidate’s action
Additional guidance for professional assessors
You will be asked whether there is anything that you would like to draw to the JAC's attention. In this question, the JAC is interested only in areas of concern. It is helpful to know when the concern was identified and whether the candidate is aware of it. If the candidate was made aware, you should indicate if improvement been demonstrated.
This information may be used to help the selection panel question the candidate.
Additional guidance for judicial assessors
If a candidate has recently been appraised and you are the candidate’s leadership judge or most recent appraiser, you should draw on this evidence where available and relevant.
If you are the candidate’s leadership judge but not his or her most recent appraising judge, you should first discuss the content of the appraisal with its author.
You should use the appraisal only to show if a candidate can meet the requirements of the role. An appraisal is primarily a developmental tool and not all material may be appropriate for an independent assessment.
The JAC does not see candidates’ appraisals at any stage.
The JAC will treat independent assessments as confidential and in communications with candidates, the information provided will not be attributed to you.
If you raise a serious allegation that the JAC believes should be investigated, you will not be identified as the source without your consent.
Unsuccessful candidates can request written feedback on their application but nothing will be attributed to you.
If you need further guidance, contact the JAC.