Consultations required under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and Judicial Appointments Regulations 2013
Overall, the JAC has a statutory duty to select people for judicial appointment only on merit and who are of good character, in line with section 63 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. We also have a statutory duty to attract diverse applicants from a wide field, and fairness, transparency and diversity considerations are core to our selection processes.
The law [Section 88(1) of the Constitutional Reform Act, and Regulation 30 of the Judicial Appointments Regulations 2013] requires the JAC to consult a “statutory consultee” before making a recommendation for appointment. Statutory consultation is carried out unless the JAC Chairman and the Appropriate Authority (Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice or Senior President of Tribunals) agree in advance to waive it.
A statutory consultee must be a person who has held the office that candidates are applying for, or someone who has other relevant experience.
The JAC’s approach
The responses statutory consultees provide must be objective and be founded only on evidence. Consultees are given clear guidance explaining this. Any information received from the statutory consultee is then carefully considered by the Commission Board alongside the totality of evidence received from candidates through the selection process.
For each selection exercise, the information page published on the JAC’s website will set out the named statutory consultee for that exercise and the stage of the selection process when comments will be sought. For large exercises this is usually after the selection days on those candidates assessed as being suitable for selection. For smaller, more senior, exercises, involving fewer candidates, comments may be sought before selection day on candidates to be interviewed.
Statutory consultation is a legal requirement on the JAC and one aspect of the selection exercise process which is carefully used alongside a wealth of other evidence to make sure we appoint only on merit, those of good character.
Other background checks
The JAC also has a statutory duty to check the good character of candidates, including checks with external bodies.
For example, if the candidate is an existing salaried judicial office holder, the Office for Judicial Complaints is asked to check for outstanding complaints against him or her.