For some, their image of a judge is of someone in a wig and robes presiding over a court room. In reality judges’ working lives involve a lot of work before and after they enter the court room and most judges wear business dress in court, not robes.
You can find out about various judicial roles in detail by watching these videos on Judicial Office’s website: A day in the life of a judge
This link takes you to a page where different types of judges talk about their work: Judicial careers
You can also visit Judicial Office’s Careers Portal for news, events and more support material and training that includes judicial shadowing and mentoring and seminars.
The judicial appointments process is detailed and takes several months, so be sure to take plenty of time to study this section before deciding whether to apply. Before you begin an application for a judicial role, you should consider whether you meet the eligibility criteria for that role, and look at our am I ready tool.
What kind of role would suit you?
Your suitability for certain types of roles can depend on a range of factors, such as your nationality, qualifications, age and experience. There are a wide range of career paths open to people interested in pursuing a judicial appointment. You can find out about the different courts and tribunals here: courts-and-tribunals
Many tribunal and courts roles are salaried, others are fee paid.
Fee-paid positions are usually similar to the equivalent salaried appointment, but might deal with the less complex or serious cases. Fee-paid positions are paid according to the number of sittings or days worked. The number of sitting days varies depending on the type of appointment, but will generally be at least 15 days a year.
Salaried roles might accommodate part-time working: Ministry of Justice guide to judicial salaried part-time working
You can find out more about becoming a judge here: becoming-a-judge
And about judicial careers here: judges-career-paths
Court roles (Legal)
Our courts system is complicated and in places can appear confusing, because it has developed over 1,000 years rather than being designed in one go.
Different types of case are dealt with in specific courts: for example, all criminal cases will start in the magistrates’ court, but the more serious criminal matters are sent to the Crown Court. Appeals from the Crown Court will go to the High Court, and potentially to the Court of Appeal or even the Supreme Court.
Civil cases will sometimes be dealt with by magistrates, but might well go to a County Court. Again, appeals will go to the High Court and then to the Court of Appeal – although to different divisions of those courts.
You can find out more about the court structure here: court-structure
Jurisdictions: these explain how different cases are dealt with, and which judges deal with them: jurisdictions
We are responsible for selecting for appointments up to and including the High Court such as:
- Judge Advocate General
- High Court
- High Court Masters
- Circuit Judge
- District Judge
- District Judge (Magistrates Court)
You can find out more about these roles here judicial-roles
Tribunal roles (Legal)
The UK has a two-tier tribunal system: a First-tier Tribunal and an Upper Tribunal. Both of these are split into chambers, with seven at First-tier level, and four at Upper Tribunal level. Tribunals generally cover England and Wales, but some also have jurisdiction in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The seven First-tier Tribunal Chambers are:
- General Regulatory
- Health, Education and Social Care
- Immigration and Asylum
- Social Entitlement
- War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation
The tribunal roles can be very varied. For example, Members of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales deal with sensitive cases considering patients who are detained in hospital, or who are living in the community subject to a conditional discharge, community treatment or guardianship order.
The Social Entitlement Chamber (Social Security and Child Support) of the First-tier Tribunal hears appeals relating to a wide variety of benefit decisions made by central government.
The Valuation Tribunal for England deals with disputes around council tax, non-domestic business rates and local taxation appeals.
We also recruit for some devolved tribunals such as the Agricultural Land Tribunal for Wales which hears and determines disputes arising between landlords and tenants of agricultural holdings in Wales, as well as disputes about the condition of drainage of land in Wales. A Land Owner Lay Member of the Agricultural Tribunal role is open to people with knowledge and experience of land management and rural affairs in Wales.
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-legally-qualified tribunal panel members.
Tribunal panels can include Tribunal roles (Non-legal) who have expertise in different areas.
You can find out more about the different tribunals here:
More experienced judges often hold additional leadership responsibilities over and above their day to day duty. You can find out about leadership roles here: leadership-responsibilities
For example, a Senior Circuit Judge, Resident Judge has significant leadership and management duties. They are responsible for making sure cases within the court centre are managed efficiently, alongside managing their own cases and caseload. They work with other judges at the court centre to make sure that work complies with current guidelines and good practice, and that, where needed, action is being taken to improve performance. This role therefore has significant responsibility to make sure the court is able to conduct its business promptly and effectively.
These charts have been designed to give a clear pathway of what progression looks like: judicial-career-progression-charts
The charts also highlight the lines of responsibility for judges with leadership roles. You will find the tabs next to each chart provides eligibility requirements that are needed for some of the posts.
We also particpate in, at the request of the Lord Chancellor, the selection of senior judicial office holders such as the Lord Chief Justice, the High Court Heads of Division, the Senior President of Tribunals and Lord and Lady Justices of Appeal.
Senior selection panels are chaired by the Lord Chief Justice (or his nominee) and comprise five members, including lay persons. Current office holders are disqualified from sitting on panels to identify their successors. Selection panels will assess candidates against selection and eligibility criterion which meet the Lord Chancellor’s requirements and the JAC’s good character guidance.
A selection process to select a senior judicial office holder will include:
- a letter of application against the selection criteria, submission of judgments and written work
- two independent assessments
- non-statutory consultation (seeking comments on candidates from the senior judiciary and relevant professional bodies and civil servants)
Statutory consultation with the Lord Chancellor is conducted prior to the launch of an exercise and also ahead of interviews.
Biographies of these more senior judges can be found here: biographies
Section 9(1) authorisations
We select candidates for authorisation to act as judges of the High Court under section 9(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981.
The Commission has an agreed section 9(1) policy (anyone authorised to act as a judge of the High Court before October 2013 is not affected by this policy).
Candidates who are successful in these exercises might not be authorised immediately but will become part of a pool. The Lord Chief Justice can then make authorisations from this pool for people to act as judges of the High Court on circuit when required.
Candidates for section 9(1) exercises must be either:
- Circuit judges
- Qualifying tribunal judges (see policy for details)
Candidates submit an application and a statement of suitability, and sometimes also a sample of written work. We will then request a statement of a candidate’s suitability for the post from a relevant leadership judge.
We will recommend candidates to the Heads of Division, as delegated by the Lord Chief Justice for membership of the pool. The Heads of Division will then consult the Lord Chancellor before authorising candidates to act as judges of the High Court.
Court of Appeal Criminal Division
Section 9(1) appointments can also be made to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division. The senior judiciary and the JAC have agreed a process for selecting – and for ongoing consideration – of circuit judges who could sit in the CACD. This will be achieved through a shared decision-making process – full details of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and Circuit Judges sitting in Court of Appeal Criminal Division Policy