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The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) is an independent commission that selects candidates for judicial office in courts and tribunals in England and Wales, and for some tribunals whose jurisdiction extends to Scotland or Northern Ireland.
We select candidates for judicial office on merit, through fair and open competition, from the widest range of eligible candidates.
We were set up on 3 April 2006 in order to maintain and strengthen judicial independence by taking responsibility for selecting candidates for judicial office out of the hands of the Lord Chancellor and making the appointments process clearer and more accountable. Our creation was one of the major changes brought about by the Constitutional Reform Act (CRA) 2005, which also reformed the office of Lord Chancellor and established the Lord Chief Justice as head of the judiciary of England and Wales.
The JAC is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. Our aims and objectives are agreed with the Lord Chancellor and set out in our business plan.
In accordance with the CRA, there are fifteen Commissioners, including the Chairman. All are recruited and appointed through open competition with the exception of three judicial members who are selected by the Judges' Council. Membership of the Commission is drawn from the judiciary, the legal profession, the magistracy and the public. Following the enactment of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, it is proposed the membership of the Commission will be amended under secondary legislation.
The Commission has responsibility for ensuring that the JAC fulfils its role, achieving its aims and objectives, and for promoting the efficient and effective use of staff and other resources. JAC Commissioners work closely with JAC staff, the Chief Executive and Directors.
The judicial appointments for which the JAC makes selections are set out in Schedule 14 to the CRA. The JAC does not select judicial office-holders for the UK Supreme Court.
The JAC may be required to select a candidate for immediate appointment under section 87 of the CRA, or to identify candidates for future vacancy requests under section 94. The JAC selects one candidate for each vacancy, providing there are sufficient numbers of selectable candidates available for each vacancy, and recommends that candidate to the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor can accept or reject a recommendation, or ask the Commission to reconsider it. If the Lord Chancellor rejects a recommendation or asks for reconsideration he must provide written reasons to the JAC.
The JAC is also involved in the selection of the Lord Chief Justice, Heads of Division and the Lords Justices of Appeal. Under the CRA, the JAC's role is to convene a selection panel, which will be a committee of the Commission. The members are specified in the relevant sections of the CRA and it is for the panel to determine the selection process and make a recommendation. The provisions in Part 2 of Schedule 13 to the Crime and Courts Act relating to diversity considerations will also apply to these roles.
To the right of this page is the JAC Framework Document, signed on 11 December 2012, which guides the working relationship between JAC and MoJ. It is jointly signed by the JAC Chairman and the Director General of the MoJ.