Eligibility for legally qualified candidates

Please check that you meet the general criteria below and any specific requirements for a post before applying. In particular, there are often specific requirements for legal roles on tribunals.

We can consider candidates’ eligibility at any stage during the selection process and those who do not meet the requirements will not be able to proceed further.

Legal experience

There is a statutory requirement for at least 5 or 7 years of post-qualification experience (PQE) for legally qualified posts.

This means that while holding your legal qualification, you must have been engaged in ‘law-related activities’ – whether paid or unpaid, full or part-time – for a minimum of 20% of the time in any year that forms part of your PQE.

The JAC will judge the PQE period to run from the start date of the relevant legal qualification (such as a completed pupillage date) up to the date of the Selection & Character Committee meeting at which the SCC will consider recommending candidates for appointment in that specific selection exercise.

Career breaks will only count towards your PQE if you continued to carry out law-related activities.

These activities are defined as:

  1. the carrying-out of judicial functions of any court or tribunal
  2. acting as an arbitrator
  3. practice or employment as a lawyer
  4. advising on the application of the law
  5. assisting persons involved in proceedings for the resolution of issues arising under the law
  6. acting as mediator in connection with attempts to resolve issues that are, or if not resolved could be, the subject of proceedings
  7. drafting documents intended to affect persons’ rights or obligations
  8. teaching or researching law
  9. any activity that, in the relevant decision-maker’s opinion, is of a broadly similar nature to those listed above

When you apply, you need to provide details only under (i) if you have not been engaged in any of the other law related activities that are listed under (a) to (h), for at least 20% of the time.

Service as a magistrate is not considered demonstrative of gaining experience in the law or as equivalent to previous judicial experience.

Legislation defining law-related activities

Relevant legal qualification

Some exercises, particularly those for vacancies in UK-wide jurisdictions, are open to candidates who qualified in Scotland and Northern Ireland, while others are limited to those who qualified in England and Wales, so you are advised to check the requirements for each post.


You will be considered eligible as a barrister:

  • when you completed 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)

In the latter case, you will need to provide an explanation in your application form of why you were not required to undertake pupillage. This could be because you were called to the Bar before 1 January 2002 or because you have been exempted from pupillage by the Bar Standards Board. If you have been exempted, you must provide evidence when you apply.


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.

Solicitors do not have to be a litigator or advocate, although experience of courts or tribunals may help your application.

Chartered legal executives

If you are a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), you are eligible to apply for selection exercises for:

  • District Judge
  • District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts)
  • Deputy District Judge
  • Deputy District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts)
  • Judge of the First-tier Tribunal
  • Employment Judge
  • Road User Charging Adjudicator
  • Adjudicators (regulation 17 Civil Enforcement of Parking Conventions)

Government lawyers

We encourage lawyers in the Government Legal Service and Crown Prosecution Service to apply.

You may apply for roles if you satisfy the judicial appointment eligibility conditions, and you have a relevant legal qualification and legal experience.

However, government lawyers are not able to sit on cases where there is a conflict of interest, for example, where their own department is a party.

If you’re a full-time government lawyer and sit as a fee-paid judge, you will not receive the daily sitting fee in addition to your salary. You may be eligible for paid special leave of up to 21 days for judicial sitting days. If you take unpaid leave to sit as a judge, you will normally be entitled to claim documented loss of earnings from HMCTS.

If you work part-time as a government lawyer you can claim the full judicial fee for sittings on your non-working days.

Travel and subsistence expenses incurred for judicial sitting days may be claimed from HMCTS.

Candidates should refer to the information included with each exercise and if you have questions, please contact us.

Legal academics

We encourage legal academics to apply.

You may apply for roles if you satisfy the judicial appointment eligibility conditions, and you have a relevant legal qualification and legal experience.

Candidates who do not possess a relevant legal qualification or have not satisfied the PQE requirements may be eligible to apply for legal roles in the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal only, if they, in the opinion of the Senior President of Tribunals, have gained experience in the law as if they satisfied the eligibility requirements for the post. Each candidate’s experience is considered on a case-by-case basis, and it is at the discretion of the Senior President of Tribunals as to whether this equates to the standard eligibility requirements.

Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys

Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys are eligible to apply for selection exercises for:

  • Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Copyright Tribunal
  • persons appointed to hear and determine appeals under the Trade Marks Act 1994

Salaried judicial roles

For some salaried posts, candidates are expected to have previous judicial experience. This means experience of sitting as a judge or a coroner 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 and involve highly complex matters, requiring its members objectively to determine the facts and draw conclusions to reach a reasoned decision. Such decisions could result in the imposition of a penalty, and they are likely to affect the legal rights, duties or privileges of specific parties. Examples could include, but are not restricted to:

  • Disciplinary tribunals and conduct hearings for professional standards bodies
  • Arbitration
  • 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.

Where the 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 acceptable for the required number of sitting days to be completed across multiple eligible roles.