Kuljit Bhogal, Recorder

“I am a barrister and was called to the Bar in 1998. I was born and brought up in West London and am the eldest of four siblings. I went to state schools throughout my education and did not have any connections to the law when I was growing up. After my A-Levels I attended King’s College, University of London to study for a law degree. I secured a pupillage after finishing Bar School but was not taken on as a tenant and had to do a further six-month pupillage before securing a tenancy. I have returned to practice at the chambers where I did my pupillage and jointly head up the housing team. I wrote Cornerstone on Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) which is now in its second edition.  I was appointed as a Recorder on 7 October 2020 and sit in crime, although my professional background is civil work, principally administrative and public law. I still live in West London, am married and have two children aged 6 and 8.

I have acquired a great deal of experience in my 20+ years at the Bar.  I have good communication skills, am able to learn about new areas of law quickly and have good judgement. I felt that all of these skills could be put to good use as a judicial post holder. I would have applied at an earlier stage but career breaks for maternity leave meant that I wanted to spend some time building my practice back up before applying.

I applied for a judicial post on being encouraged to do so by a couple of judges whom I appear in front of regularly. I looked at the JAC’s website to understand the skills that would be required and decided that this was something I was well equipped to do.

I succeeded in being appointed as a Recorder on my third time of applying.  The process is a long one with many stages, I had to do a multiple-choice test, an online scenario test and a selection day. The selection day consisted of an interview and a role play in a fictional jurisdiction and was a realistic representation of a situation a judge may need to deal with.

Anyone involved in the law will likely already have many of the skills that are required to fulfil the competencies. It is extremely rewarding to assist in the operation of the justice system. It has been a steep learning curve as I come from a civil background and been appointed to sit in crime.  However, the judicial training is excellent, and my supervising judge has been brilliant so I wouldn’t let your differing practice areas stop you from applying.

I enjoy the responsibility of ensuring that a Defendant gets a fair hearing and that the jury are assisted in making their decision.  As a Recorder I am at the heart of important decisions which affect both the Defendant and the witnesses/victims involved in a case. As a specialist in anti-social behaviour law it is rewarding to see the outcome of matters which often start as “low level” ASB but have progressed into more serious crimes and to ensure that these matters are taken seriously and adjudicated upon fairly. I enjoy speaking to the other judges to learn about how they have resolved issues – always keeping a mental note in case I get a similar point crop up! As I build up my sitting experience, I hope to take on longer and more complex cases.”





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