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The JAC has been asked to identify up to 80 candidates suitable for appointment as Circuit Judges. Vacancies are across all circuits in England and Wales; some are immediate and some are expected to arise in the near future. Although there are opportunities in all jurisdictions (civil, crime and family) not all jurisdictions are across all circuits. This is a good opportunity for those wanting to take on a challenging and rewarding role and to progress their judicial career.
About the role
Circuit Judges sit in the Crown and County Courts. It is the responsibility of the judge to exercise control over proceedings, both during the pre-trial stage and when presiding over the trial itself, ensuring the proceedings are conducted efficiently and fairly.
Judges sitting in the civil jurisdiction are expected to deal with the whole range of civil cases in the County Court including personal injury and clinical negligence claims; consumer credit and other cases involving personal debt; and housing and possession disputes often involving actions by mortgage lenders or landlords.
In the family jurisdiction, judges deal with a broad range of cases including those relating to financial relief, private children’s’ cases and public children’s cases. Family cases can involve high emotions which must be effectively managed by the judge.
Judges sitting in the crime jurisdiction are expected to deal with a broad range of criminal cases in the Crown Court. When presiding over a trial, a judge must balance the right of the defendant to a fair trial with the interests of the victims and witnesses. The judge must maintain order in the courtroom and ensure the case is presented to the jury in a comprehensible fashion. The judge will also be required to pass sentence in the event of a guilty plea or conviction by the jury.
Circuit Judges are part of a team. Successful candidates will be expected to play a full part in the work of the team, assisting colleagues in dealing with the overall workload of the court and taking on ancillary roles as required.
Who can apply?
This exercise is open to:
- solicitors and barristers in England and Wales with at least 7 years post-qualification legal experience
- those who have 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
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.
In addition, whilst there is no upper or lower age limit for candidates apart from the statutory retirement age of 70, the age at which someone is appointed as a Circuit Judge must allow for a reasonable length of service, usually of 5 years before retirement.
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