Many of the roles we advertise are open to candidates with no legal experience. We call these non-legal tribunal member roles.
What non-legal members do
A fee-paid non-legal member sits on a panel alongside a judge and in some cases, another non-legal member. Non-legal members advise on their area of specialist knowledge and participate fully in the decision making after the hearing has concluded, including contributing to the drafting of the decision.
With non-legal roles, you use your personal or professional experience in a certain area to help other tribunal members understand more about the issues they are being presented with – be those, for example, medical, disability, drainage or surveying cases. This is to make sure that there is a full understanding of the facts of a case and that the parties involved get a fair hearing. You can read more about non-legal roles – and whether one might be right for you – in our non-legal roles guidance.
Non-legal members are members of the judiciary and, as with other judicial roles, are employed by Judicial Office.
Our short features on non-legal tribunal members provide an insight into their roles and advice about the selection process.
Applying for non-legal tribunal member roles
To apply, candidates must show how they satisfy the eligibility requirements for the post. This is a relatively straightforward but incredibly important step; applicants will not be able to go any further in the process if they have not provided clear evidence of their eligibility.
There are two ways we might ask for information about your eligibility. For some roles, you will simply need to list relevant experience and memberships. For other roles, you may need to provide an eligibility statement.
If you are asked to provide an eligibility statement, you should read the eligibility requirements closely and make sure your statement explains how you meet these specific requirements. Remember that the panel reading your application will include members who are not specialists in this area, and that the panel will not have access to any other information about how your professional experience meets these requirements – so you need to be clear. You will not need to complete a self-assessment or provide further documents such as a CV at this stage.
You can read more about eligibility here.
You will also need to supply independent assessments. Make sure that the people you ask to give these assessments know your work and will be able to explain your competencies.
Shortlisting will happen in one of two ways, depending on the number of applications. If we have a very large number of applications for the vacancies, we will use an online qualifying test alongside eligibility information to determine which candidates are invited to a selection day.
If fewer applications are received and an online qualifying test is not considered necessary, then shortlisting will be done against the eligibility criteria only.
Where candidates have been asked to provide an eligibility statement, we will invite the candidates who provide the strongest evidence of meeting the eligibility requirements to attend a selection day.
Structure of the Tribunals
The UK has a two-tier tribunal system: a First-tier Tribunal and an Upper Tribunal. Both of these are split into chambers, with 7 chambers at the First-tier level and 4 at the Upper Tribunal level. Tribunals generally cover England and Wales, but some also have jurisdiction in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Some other tribunals sit outside this system, such as the Employment Tribunals for England and Wales.
How Tribunals work
Tribunals hear evidence from witnesses, decide cases and have limited powers to impose fines and other penalties, depending on the jurisdiction of the case. Tribunal judges can sit alone or with other, non-legal tribunal members.
Tribunals often involve individuals putting their case without legal representation or assistance, so the system needs to be accessible. Tribunal judges often help to guide non-legally qualified parties through the procedures.
Tribunal panels may include non-legal members who have expertise in different areas. For example, on a case involving Disability Living Allowance, judges may sit with a medically-qualified member (generally a GP or consultant) and a member who has specialist knowledge of disabilities, such as a social worker, occupational therapist or physiotherapist
- There are several different roles in the tribunals
- The Tribunal court structure can be seen in this Tribunals Chart
- You can find out more about these roles here: Tribunal members
- Here you can find advice on meeting the Eligibility non-legal roles
- You can find out more about this here: tribunal-jurisdiction