An overview of questions we are frequently asked
Diversity and reasonable adjustments
Selection Process Overview
Section 94 lists
The Application Form
Shortlisting - Qualifying Test
Shortlisting - Paper Sifts
The role play
Do applicants need to be a certain age to apply?
There is no upper or lower age limit for candidates for judicial appointments apart from the statutory retirement age of 70 for all judges.
The Lord Chancellor has said that he expects that a reasonable length of service (usually five years) should be attainable on appointment. The JAC may recommend candidates who fall a little short of that depending on the extent of their experience and suitability for each post.
Candidates are expected to have a minimum period of experience for each role (currently 5 or 7 years post qualification).
Candidates as young as 29 have been appointed for positions.
Is fee-paid experience important when applying for salaried vacancies?
The Lord Chancellor expects that candidates for salaried posts will have sufficient directly relevant previous judicial experience. Only in exceptional cases and if the candidate in question has demonstrated the skills required in some other significant way should an exception be made.
What qualifications are needed to apply for a fee-paid non-legal post?
These vary greatly, so you will need to check the eligibility requirements for that particular exercise and take account of any specialism required.
Are there any jurisdictions in which Home Office Presenting Officers (HOPO) and lawyers from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Government Legal Service (GLS) and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers cannot sit?
GLS lawyers are not able to sit on business where their own department is a party, regardless of the fact that they may work in a different part of the department from that directly in issue.
CPS lawyers are eligible for Recorder/DDJ(MC) posts but opportunities to sit on criminal cases will be limited, as most prosecutions are brought by the CPS. Metropolitan Police Office lawyers are similar to CPS lawyers in that they are also involved in criminal prosecutions.
HOPOs are unable to sit in the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.
Check the eligibility and deployment sections of the information pack for the full details for each individual exercise.
Are people who have qualified and practised in Scotland and Northern Ireland eligible to apply?
All our posts are open to citizens of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland or a Commonwealth country. The nationality criteria must be satisfied by close of application, unless there are exceptional circumstances. You need to meet the other statutory requirements, which vary from job to job.
If you are interested in applying you should study the requirements for the particular job you are thinking of applying for. These can be found in the selection exercise information pack, which will be available on our website when the selection exercise launches.
Will you make reasonable adjustments for any disability?
Applications for reasonable adjustments must be made on your application form. We are committed to considering any reasonable adjustments needed to ensure that you can participate in the selection process fairly.
Do you do anything specifically to encourage applications from disabled candidates?
The JAC actively encourages disabled people to apply for Judicial Office. To support candidates, the JAC will seek to ensure that:
• disabled people are not discriminated against at any stage of the application or selection process;
• candidates are aware of their rights in relation to reasonable adjustments and disability discrimination; and
• requirements in relation to reasonable adjustments are identified and accommodated wherever possible within the application and selection process.
If you would like to know more about the JAC's reasonable adjustments policy or have any particular requirements you would like to discuss you can contact the Equality and Fair Treatment Team or Candidate Services Team who will be happy to help.
Do you have quotas & targets for under-represented groups?
No. We appoint the best candidate for the role through fair and open competition, from the widest range of eligible candidates.
Merit remains the bedrock of our selection procedures and we are committed to ensuring that meritorious candidates are secured from the widest possible field. By encouraging more, eligible people to apply we are contributing to building an effective and impartial judiciary.
Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 we have very specific duties in the selection of judges and tribunal members, both legal and non-legal. Our statutory responsibilities are:
• to select candidates solely on merit;
• to select only people of good character;
• to have regard to the need to encourage applications from a wider range of candidates.
For further information about the specific requirements of the Constitutional Reform Act please see the information available in the Act.
Does the selection process favour white, middle-class, Oxbridge educated males?
The selection process does not favour any group. We operate fair processes ensuring equal treatment to all.
All candidates need to provide evidence for and clearly demonstrate how they meet the requirements of a post.
It may seem obvious but we can only select from those who apply. Through our advertising and a comprehensive outreach programme, the JAC is actively encouraging a wider range of applicants from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible.
How long does the selection process take?
Our part of the selection process, from advertising to recommendation, is on average 19 weeks, although this may be longer for larger exercises and shorter for smaller exercises. The JAC is only responsible for part of the entire process. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Judicial Office and Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), also have functions to perform.
How does the JAC define merit?
An applicant's merit is assessed against a set of qualities and abilities, which are assessed against evidence showing relevant knowledge and experience.
How can I best prepare for a selection exercise?
Visit the 'is it for me' section (insert link) of this website for details.
Where are vacancies advertised?
All vacancies are advertised on this website. You can subscribe to receive an email alert which will let you know when an exercise is open for application. All vacancies are also advertised in our monthly e-newsletter Judging Your Future
What are section 94 lists?
We can be asked by the Ministry of Justice to run two different types of exercises: those held under section 87 of the Constitutional Reform Act (CRA) 2005 for specific, current vacancies, and those held under section 94 of the CRA, under which the Lord Chancellor requests the JAC to draw up a list of people who are potentially selectable for vacancies for a specific type of appointment which may arise in the foreseeable future.
How long could I be on a section 94 list?
When you are selected for inclusion on a list created under s.94, we will inform you of the date that the list will be closed. All lists created before October 2012 remain open for up to two years. All lists created from October 2012 will be reviewed after 12 months and will be closed between the one and two year mark, depending upon the expected business need. This will depend on the numbers left on the list and whether a fresh exercise is likely. After this time the pool of eligible candidates could have changed sufficiently that we would no longer be confident we were fulfilling our statutory duties to recommend the most meritorious candidates and widen the pool.
Should I make plans to take up a judicial appointment if I am on a list?
When it is created, the expectation is that the number of vacancies expected to arise match the number of candidates on the list. However, circumstances can change and there may be some candidates who remain on the list when the list is closed. It is for this reason that HMCTS and JAC make it clear to candidates that if you are placed on a list this is not a guarantee of a post.
Being selected for inclusion on a list is not the same as being selected for an immediate appointment. Therefore, candidates are advised to avoid making plans for taking up appointment in case a suitable post does not materialise.
What happens if I am 'called-off' a list?
We will write to you to inform you that you have been recommended for an immediate appointment and this has been accepted by the Lord Chancellor. You will then be called for a deployment interview with HMCTS to discuss the details of the vacancy.
If my preferences for location and working patterns change should I inform you?
It is important that you keep us informed of any changes which may impact on any recommendation we are asked to make.
Please send an email to the JAC team who dealt with the original exercise (details in the information pack) with the specifics of the change(s).
If the list is due to close and a new exercise has been launched will I have to reapply?
Yes, however at the time a new exercise is ready to launch, the Commission will decide on the process that will be applied to any candidates who remain on a list. Once the process has been determined, the JAC will write to candidates remaining on the list, with details of how to apply and the process for call-offs to the list up to the time that the new selection exercise is complete.
Does being on a list stop me applying for another exercise?
No. Applications for different exercises are treated separately.
Is there a generic application form I can fill in?
Every selection exercise has its own application form but they all follow a similar approach. All application forms require a self assessment against our qualities and abilities. You may find it useful to begin preparing this in advance of the exercise opening for applications.
How will the self-assessment section of my application form be used?
Where a qualifying test is not used, candidates are shortlisted on the basis of information contained in their self assessments and supplied by their referees.
Where a qualifying test is used, self-assessments are used at the selection day stage and are part of the overall information used to assess your suitability for the role you have applied for.
What should I put in my self assessment?
Self assessments should provide evidence of how you demonstrate the qualities and abilities for the post. You need to:
• Provide specific examples that demonstrate how your skills match the qualities and abilities. It is not enough to talk generally about a situation and what happened - we need to know specifically what your thinking was, what actions you took and how you handled the situation.
• Be clear and explicit in your examples about what your role was and what specifically you were responsible for.
• Keep your answers concise and to the point.
Should I only use examples from my current job in my self assessment?
You can include examples from other areas of your life if you feel they demonstrate the required qualities and abilities.
Will you require my salary or previous year's earnings?
What information should I include in the character section of the application form?
You should refer to our 'Good Character Guidance' located on our website. Please note that it is your continuing responsibility to inform the JAC of any character issues up to the point of recommendations being made to the Lord Chancellor.
Do I have to complete the diversity monitoring form and how will it be used?
Completion is encouraged, but optional. The monitoring form does not remain attached to the application form as it is purely for monitoring purposes, and forms no part of the selection process.
How do I know if my application form has been received by the JAC?
If submitted online, you will see a web page confirming receipt of your application. If you would like an email confirmation in addition to this, please ensure that you enter your email address and tick the email request box when submitting the form.
How many referees can I provide?
We normally ask candidates to nominate up to three of their own referees plus an additional professional referee. This will be outlined within the information pack for the exercise.
Can the same referee be used more than once in my application?
No, please refrain from submitting the same referee more than once.
Who should I choose as my referees?
We suggest that at least one should be able to comment on your current employment. Not all of your referees have to be able to comment on your work. You can choose to include someone who can give examples of your qualities and abilities in a different non-work setting if you wish (such as your work as a school governor or a trustee of a charity).
Can a reference previously submitted for another exercise be used again?
We would strongly recommend that referees complete a new referee assessment form as each post is different. References should, therefore, be tailored towards the qualities and abilities required for the particular post.
What if I am uncomfortable about naming a particular referee in my application form?
You can either tell us in your application that you do not want us to approach a specific referee or you can provide an alternative.
I'm a sole practicing solicitor, who should I give as a reference?
We advise you to choose a referee who has direct knowledge of your work. If you are a sole practitioner, depending upon the scope of your work, your referee could be a client, a JP, or a local authority or housing association officer, for example.
What should I ask my referees to write?
Always check that your referee is willing and able to supply a reference for you. It is best to discuss the post you are applying for with the referee, so they have a clear idea of what is needed. The most valuable references are ones which offer evidence rather than assertion of your abilities. You should ask your referees to include examples of occasions where you have demonstrated the qualities and abilities required for the role.
At which stage will referees be contacted and how will references be used by the panel?
If shortlisting is through a paper sift of applications, references will be requested before the sift takes place. If shortlisting is by a qualifying test, references will be taken up after the test has taken place, but prior to shortlisted candidates attending the selection day.
References will be available to the panel for the selection day and they will use them as part of their decision-making process. The Commission will also have access to references when they come to make their final selection decisions.
What are qualifying tests?
Qualifying tests are exam style papers, used to shortlist candidates for the selection day stage of most selection exercises. They are designed to assess a candidate's ability to absorb and analyse information quickly, identify issues and apply the law. They also test their independence of mind and sound judgement, and their ability to explain procedure and the decisions reached succinctly and clearly.
When are tests used for shortlisting?
The JAC generally uses qualifying tests for larger selection exercises up to Senior Circuit Judge level, but we tailor our processes to each post.
Why are tests used?
Qualifying tests provide an objective and efficient means to shortlist large numbers of candidates.
When there is a qualifying test, when will references and self assessments be taken into account?
At the selection day, alongside all the other evidence gathered.
What will the test paper be like?
Each test is different, to fit the particular nature of the posts being advertised. You will always be told in advance what type of test you will be sitting, if any special preparation is required, and be provided with any materials and background information as necessary. Previous papers
What do the papers test?
Candidates are tested on the qualities and abilities required for judicial office, such as intellectual capacity.
How are the papers set and marked?
The tests are developed and marked by experienced judges from the relevant jurisdiction, and all answer papers are moderated to ensure consistency in the marking.
How is the pass mark determined?
Rather than setting a pass mark for a qualifying test, the JAC determines the number of candidates that are to be invited to an interview, at a ratio of between two and three per vacancy. We then take the highest scoring candidates through to interview based on this ratio.
Will I receive feedback following the test if I am not invited to a selection day?
While the sheer number of applications we receive means we cannot provide individual feedback following a qualifying test, we have, since March 2010, published feedback reports to help candidates understand what characterised a successful test.
Who does the sift panel comprise?
Each sift panel usually comprises an independent panel chair, a Judicial Member and another independent member.
Will I receive feedback following the sift if I am not invited to a selection day?
While the sheer number of applications we receive means we cannot provide individual feedback following a paper sift, we recognise that candidates wish to understand why their application was unsuccessful and to consider that in light of future applications. In July 2011 we, therefore, introduced the publication of sift feedback reports.
What happens on selection day?
The selection day will take one of the following formats:
• Interview only;
• Interview and role play;
• Interview and situational questioning; and
• Interview and presentation.
Who is the interview panel made up of?
Interview panels are usually three members, an independent panel chair, a judicial member and an independent member. If the selection day includes role plays the panel may have an additional judicial member.
Where are selection days held?
They are normally in London, often at the JAC's building near St James's Park tube station.
How long will a selection day take?
The length of time will vary but will less than a whole working day.
Will I be reimbursed travel costs and other expenditure?
Unfortunately we are unable to reimburse any expenses incurred attending a selection day. We are prepared to make exceptions to this rule to help those with a disability.
If I can't make it, can I arrange an alternative date?
Dates are provided in the information pack at the beginning of the exercise and you should make every effort to be available. However, for some exercises it may be possible to consider requests to attend on a different day.
How long will an interview last?
Typically they take 45 minutes.
What kinds of questions are asked?
The questions will be designed to give you the opportunity to demonstrate how you meet the qualities and abilities required for the role. You will have used examples in your application form and you may be asked about these. You may also be asked for different examples.
You should be aware that the role play starts from the moment you walk into the room - so go straight into role.
There is an example of a mock interview on our website.
Will I be briefed beforehand? How can I prepare for the role play?
You will be given a briefing sheet at the venue, with time to read and prepare carefully. Visiting a Court or Tribunal hearing as an observer, or have taking part in judicial shadowing can be helpful to see how the judge operates, the layout of the room, who is there and what parts they all play.
How long will the role play last?
Typically they take 30 minutes. You will be told how long in advance.
Who will be marking my role play performance?
Usually the judicial and independent members of the selection panel.
Who else will be present in the role play?
Actors will play people who would be there in an actual hearing. For example, if it is a Tribunal post, they may take on the role of other judicial panel members sitting alongside you. They may play a lawyer or a member of the public in the room. The information you are given in advance will tell you who is going to be there.
What does situational questioning involve?
Situational questioning focuses on what a candidate would do in a specific situation. This technique involves questions concerning a hypothetical situation based on challenging, real-life, job-related occurrences and asks the candidate how they would handle the problem. You will be given material related to the hypothetical situation before the interview starts so you will have time to think and prepare your responses.
How will I hear the result of my application?
You will be told the outcome of your application in writing. If you are unsuccessful at the selection day stage of the process, you can request a written explanation. You should make this request within six weeks of the date of the letter informing you that you have not been successful. We will aim to respond to your request within 20 working days.
If you are successful at the selection day, the JAC will seek statutory consultation before your application is considered by the Commission for recommendation for appointment.
What is statutory consultation?
Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, we are required to consult the Lord Chief Justice and one other person who has held the post or who has other relevant experience on candidates likely to be considered for selection. Summary reports are therefore sent to the Lord Chief Justice and to one other for comment.
What information is considered by the Commission when making selection decisions?
The Commission panel report including evidence gathered from a candidates' references, self assessment, interview, role play and/or scenario based assessment (if undertaken), and responses received from statutory consultation.
What happens once the Lord Chancellor has accepted or rejected the JAC recommendations?
We will write to you letting you know whether you have been successful. If you have been, we will explain that you will be contacted by the Ministry of Justice.
If I am unhappy about how my application has been handled what can I do?
Candidates are advised to wait until receiving a written explanation regarding their application before lodging a formal complaint. We aim to respond to a complaint within 20 working days of receipt.
If you are not satisfied with the JAC's response you can refer the complaint to the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman to investigate further.