Panel Members

During our selection process we interview candidates and Panel Members represent us on those panels.

Panel Members review applications, interview you at a selection day, and provide an assessment of candidates that helps Commissioners decide who to recommend for judicial appointment. All selection panels contain a judicial member, and at least one lay panel member.

Panels assess all the evidence of a candidate’s merits against a competency framework (or Skills and Abilities criteria) for the post. Although our Commissioners make the final decision about who to recommend for appointment, they rely heavily on the panel assessments in making that decision. Panel members therefore have a key role in ensuring that we conduct our business efficiently, fairly and with a focus on its statutory duty to select on merit.

Panel member diversity

JAC panel members perform a critical role in the recruitment of judicial members, so it essential that they are representative of the wider society. The JAC is committed to the recruitment, retention and ongoing support of diverse panel members of all backgrounds, in line with the UK working- age population. This is to ensure diversity is at the forefront of selection panel member composition, both for lay panel members and judicial members.     

Panel member recruitment

We are not currently recruiting lay members to sit on selection panels, but we run competitions regularly and opportunities will be listed on this page as they become available.

The panel member experience

Allan Ruddock

Allan Ruddock has been a panel chair for the JAC since 2008. He is professionally qualified and has over 20 years’ experience in HR and recruitment in the civil service.

All in the same boat

“In my 7 years as a panel chair I’ve found that it doesn’t matter who is sitting on the candidate’s side of the table, how senior, how experienced, or clever they are, they are nervous and find the interview process difficult. Everyone does. However, those who have prepared clearly find it easier.

“Candidates who haven’t understood the process and didn’t do any preparation really struggle. I’m sure they have loads of good examples they just don’t have them at their fingertips because they haven’t done the work in advance of interview. But I do think that the message is finally getting through that you need to do a good self-assessment, give good examples and prepare for the interview process.”

Natural behaviours to the fore

“I think the role play is a very powerful recruitment tool because it puts the candidate into a very realistic situation. With good actors, candidates get caught up in the situation and it ceases to be a role play and becomes a court room so they begin to act like a judge or tribunal member. I believe that as people become caught up, their natural behaviours come out. That is what we want to see. It’s quite enlightening what we find out. Natural behaviours almost inevitably come to the fore.

“The actors are not in any way involved in decision making but they do take it their role very seriously.  They are very professional. Sometimes they have to improvise, if the candidate goes off-piste then they help to get the role play back on track so we cover what we need to.”

A professional panel

“As chair the majority of my panel members are like-minded which makes it easy. But sometimes you do get a member who strongly disagrees. I like to have these discussions because sometimes you can miss something. This is why having a panel is so important. There is often a very detailed discussion especially when one of the candidates is borderline. It can be difficult but everyone is professional and we use the evidence. It’s not personal it’s a business decision and as chair you have the casting vote.

“For every selection exercise we talk about unconscious bias. We are constantly checking ourselves and each other. We must ensure we don’t judge anyone on their background or diversity. It’s a discipline. It’s crucially important to candidates that we use only the evidence put before us.

“What reassures me is that everybody: the JAC staff, the front of house team, the panel – everybody takes the process very seriously. No candidates can say they’ve had an unfair deal. They have been given a good opportunity to tell us why they are suitable and have been considered honestly and fully.

“No recruitment system is perfect but having been involved in a number of them I believe this is a robust, detailed, professional system.”


Tim Skelton

Tim Skelton has been a lay panel chair for 9 years. He is also involved with regulatory work with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the General Dental Council and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. He has been Chair of Dorset Probation Trust and a Non-Executive Director of a Specialist Learning Disability NHS Trust in Oxfordshire. He was previously Development Director for Whitbread New Ventures and an NHS Trust Chief Executive.
“I have worked in both the public and private sector. As a Chief Executive of an NHS Trust I helped develop a more competency-based recruitment programmes, using lay people for the recruitment of senior professionals such as consultants.“I have been a JAC panel chair for 9 years. I was one of several chairs to join when the JAC had its first recruitment round for panel members. The selection of judges has become more rigorous over time. In addition the number of people applying has increased so the JAC has had to develop fair and innovative short listing processes. They have done this very effectively.
“I have worked on average about 30 days a year for the JAC. Exercises come usually in blocks of a few weeks at a time. A panel chair is involved in briefing and training for each exercise, sifting the long list of applicants and then spending time undertaking the interviews. For new applicants to the Judiciary they will frequently be asked to undertake a role play. This is followed by a moderation day to ensure all the panels are grading in a consistent way and to agree a merit order for all candidates.
“The lay members of the panel ensure that the full range of competencies are given focus. So, alongside their intellect and knowledge of the law, judicial applicants must also be able to demonstrate other skills such as an ability to communicate with vulnerable people, to understand and deal fairly with people who have different needs and to maintain authority when challenged.“Being a panel member is a hugely important and rewarding role. We need to ensure each candidate is able to demonstrate their full potential for a judicial role and fairly and accurately mark them against the required competencies. The 3 panel members assess independently before comparing their grades. Frequently the panel agree, but if there are differences of opinion then that is when the Chair has a key role to play. The panel would then have to review the relevant competency and understand the evidence that lead to each individual coming to their conclusion. By listening and constructively challenging it is seldom that a consensus amongst the panel cannot be reached.
“One of the most satisfying parts of the role is when a judicial panel member who has limited knowledge of the JAC joins a selection exercise for the first time. They often have lots of questions and are sometimes initially rather cynical about the JAC and its work. However by the end of a selection exercise normally those doubts have disappeared, they feel confident in their role and they are able to fully support the selection methods deployed by the JAC.”

Teresa Carter-Johnson

Teresa Carter-Johnson has been a lay panel member since 2004. She was previously Head of Recruitment for American Express UK.
“When this role came up I had just taken voluntary redundancy as Head of Recruitment for Amex UK to get a better balance of work and family. It has been ideal, I’m using my recruitment skills at a senior level while developing expertise in a completely new area.

“I have an extensive background in recruitment and retention. During my time at Amex we were able to ‘tap in’ to some innovative recruitment approaches and were one of the first companies to fully embrace competency based interviewing. I also helped develop the in-house recruitment training for managers.

“For the JAC I have undertaken both panel chair and panel member roles and both are enjoyable. The chair role obviously has more responsibility and can be time consuming. The role of panel member suits me best as I have caring responsibilities.

“The JAC runs a thorough and fair process that allows all applicants an equal opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for the role.

“The competencies needed are always clearly identified but sometimes a candidate chooses a poor example to demonstrate the competence or ability.  If this happens during an interview the panel do their best to elicit as much relevant evidence as time will allow.  However if an application form has been poorly completed then the panel can only base their decision on the information on the form.

“I am aware that some candidates, although very experienced in their day job, may not be familiar with the interview process.  The JAC provides some very useful training for potential applicants to help with the application and interview, which is well worth pursuing.

“My role is always interesting and varied. The calibre of the candidates we interview is often exceptional and the roles we recruit for are arguably some of the most important jobs in the country.”


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