The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) is now inviting applications for the position of High Court Judge.
Launch date: 1300 on Thursday 5 November 2015Closing date: 1300 on Thursday 19 November 2015Number of vacancies: up to 15 vacanciesLocation: Royal Courts of JusticeSalary: Salary group 4 - £176, 226
FOREWORD BY THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE OF ENGLAND AND WALES
The work of the High Court has never been more demanding and varied. The work is undeniably hard but it is richly rewarding as it involves the development and practice of the law, together with the ability to work through issues and the freedom that judicial independence provides.
The decision to become a judge of the High Court requires very considerable thought but, as almost everyone who becomes a judge readily says, they find the work interesting, rewarding and enjoyable, not only in the professionalism that is involved and the collegiality they enjoy but in the public service provided and the ability to meet many of the issues facing our society. I would strongly commend the High Court bench to the brightest and best of the legal profession.(Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd - 5 November 2015)
The JAC has been asked to recommend candidates of outstanding ability to fill up to 15 vacancies: up to 2 in the Chancery Division, up to 3 in the Family Division (FD) and up to 10 in the Queen’s Bench Division (QBD). All the posts will be based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London but may involve working at courts ‘on circuit’ across England and Wales. There is every expectation that the majority of these appointments will be made within 12 months of the recommendations being submitted to the Lord Chancellor in April 2016.
Please note that you do NOT have to be a deputy High Court judge or a Queen’s Counsel to apply for these vacancies.
All the selections will be made on merit. In addition to four generalists (some expertise in crime is desirable but not essential), the QBD will need three new judges in the Commercial Court, two in the Technology and Construction Court and one defamation specialist. All QBD candidates need to be able to work or develop expertise in all aspects of the work of the Division.
In relation to the FD posts, the successful candidates should ideally be competent in both children and money cases. However, candidates without experience in one of these areas will be considered. If you are interested in applying, a description of the FD can be found on the JAC website.
Candidates with a background in any of the areas of specialism within the Chancery division are encouraged to apply and applicants with commercial business expertise are especially welcome.
General advice about the application process is available, along with advice on completing the candidate self-assessment. The self assessment forms an important part of your application and allows you to provide examples of how you have demonstrated the competencies for the post of High Court Judge. Please note that the self assessment is the section of your application form where the panel looks for objective evidence of achievements and suitability. The personal profile section is for background information only.
Before you can be considered for appointment, there are eligibility requirements that you must meet. In addition to the statutory eligibility criteria the Lord Chancellor also requires candidates to satisfy additional criteria.
Previous service in a judicial office
The Lord Chancellor expects that candidates for this post will have sufficient directly relevant previous judicial experience. Only in exceptional cases and if the candidate has demonstrated the requisite skills in some other significant way should an exception be made.
The meaning of “directly relevant experience” is sitting as a judge in a salaried or fee-paid capacity, for fee-paid judges this should be for a period of at least two years or 30 sitting days since appointment.
Please read the competency framework for the role before making your application.
Reading about candidates previously selected for this role is a useful way of finding out more about the skills needed: Alistair MacDonald's case study
The JAC is required to carry out character checks on all candidates whom it intends to consider for appointment. This requires your signed consent.
A signed copy of the consent form should be completed and returned to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday 26 November 2015.
Failure to declare any matters that come to light from the JAC's checks may prejudice the outcome of your application. Please read the good character guidance before applying.
Overview of the role
Although the High Court comprises three Divisions (Queen’s Bench, Chancery and Family), the jurisdiction of the High Court is indivisible in law and, irrespective of the Division to which a judge is assigned, all judges of the High Court possess equal power, authority and jurisdiction. Accordingly, in response to the business needs of the court, judges may be required to sit in a Division other than that to which they are assigned. Furthermore, although based at the Royal Courts of Justice, High Court judges may also be required to sit at a number of provincial centres in a broad range of jurisdictions. Candidates are reminded that the jurisdiction covers England and Wales and judges can be deployed to sit in courts in Wales which is beginning to enact primary legislation different to the law application in England.
Additional information for candidates
It is required that the successful candidates, if not already authorised, will require immediate authorisation as a deputy High Court judge under section 9 (1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981.
Candidates for Queen’s Bench Division or Family Division posts must be able to work or develop expertise in all aspects of the work of that Division.
The Lord Chancellor has also stated that candidates for all Divisions must be of outstanding ability. This extends beyond pure legal skill and candidates should be able to demonstrate actual or potential leadership qualities.
Leadership and management responsibilities
Leadership and management potential is important for these roles: High Court judges may be appointed at some stage to serve as presiding judges or as a Judge-in-Charge of a particular area of business. The responsibilities of presiding judges include the exercise of broad supervision over the running of the courts on the Circuit to which they are assigned, the deployment of High Court and Circuit judges in the Circuit, and attending to the well-being of the Circuit judiciary. High Court judges may become involved in assisting the Lord Chief Justice and Heads of Division in the administration of the modern judiciary.
One Family Division judge is appointed for each Circuit as a Family Division Liaison judge (FDLJ) whose responsibilities include judicial deployment, supervising the listing of Family Division work on Circuit, co-ordinating the work of the Designated Family judges on Circuit, and liaising with the local family judges at all levels.
Chancery Division judges may be appointed to serve either as a Chancery Supervising judge or as a presiding judge of the Tax and Chancery Chamber of the Upper Tier Tribunal.
High Court judges may occasionally serve on committees, inquiries and other bodies where the services of a senior member of the judiciary are required (e.g. the Parole Board and Judicial College).
Some of the leadership responsibilities held by High Court judges can be seen on the list of senior judges on the judiciary.gov.uk website at http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/about-the-judiciary/who-are-the-judiciary/senior-judiciary-list/
Candidates should note that High Court judges’ sitting patterns are tied to the dates of the legal year which are available on the judiciary.gov.uk website at http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/about-the-judiciary/the-justice-system/term-dates-and-sittings/term-dates/
Newly appointed High Court judges are expected to do vacation duty for a total of six weeks before they qualify for time off in-lieu. However, some flexibility is possible and new judges can arrange time off for important events before completing their duty in consultation with their respective Head of Division.
Salaried Part Time Working (SPTW)
Flexible working is available for the Family and Queen’s Bench Divisions; any working pattern will need to maintain continuity of the business and efficiency of sittings.
There are the following potential flexible working patterns:
- SPTW for the FD vacancies - one post is available at either 50/50 or 60/40 job share but must equate to a FTE, e.g two people, each working 50% or one working 60% and the other 40% on a SPTW basis.
- SPTW for the QBD is available for one of the generalists' posts at a minimum pattern of 50% but must equate to a FTE, e.g two people, each working 50% on a SPTW basis.
- SPTW posts can only accommodate working block periods, full weeks with a commitment to working a period of 3-4 months.
- SPTW is not available for the Chancery post.
Final working patterns will need to be discussed and agreed between the successful candidate, the relevant HoD and HMCTS at the time of appointment.
The court estate in most cases does not allow job sharing judges to work on the same day and therefore chambers/courtrooms may need to be shared.
Further guidance on the role
If having read the remainder of this document, you wish to discuss the role please contact: for QBD Ben Yallop (Ben.Yallop2@judiciary.gsi.gov.uk); for FD Mr Justice Moor (clerk Keith Williams 0207 947 6008) or Mrs Justice Theis (clerk Kathren Quinn 0207 947 7091); for Chancery Mrs Justice Asplin (clerk Chris Ellis 0207 947 6589). These judicial points of contact will be available during the application period. They have no input into the selection process, although they may be asked to act as referees for other candidates. Your enquiries would be an entirely confidential matter between you and them.
Life on Circuit
For candidates who are interested in finding out more about life on Circuit, there is a summary of the key aspects on the JAC website.
The new pension arrangement may be a significant factor for candidates considering applying to the High Court. More detail is on the JAC website.
Linkage with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) selection exercise
An exercise is expected to launch in the next few weeks to select a successor to Judge Paul Mahoney, who is due to retire in September 2016.
Candidates who fulfil the High Court eligibility criteria for this High Court exercise, and who also wish to apply to become a judge in the European Court of Human Rights, are able to participate in both exercises. If they are both successful in this High Court exercise and elected as Judge of the European Court of Human Rights, their deployment to the High Court of England and Wales will be deferred until their term in Strasbourg is completed.
Referees are approached before shortlisting and the evidence they provide will inform selection decisions. Referees will be contacted directly by the JAC on Thursday 26 November 2015. Please read the guidance about references before completing your application. References should provide evidence that you have the competencies relevant to the role. Please note the important information below:
Conflict of interest
The JAC Commissioners are listed on the JAC website. Do not nominate a Commissioner as a referee. You should also state in the application form if you are in any way related to or known by any of the Commissioners and give details.
You are asked not to nominate a referee whom you know is applying for the same exercise. Such a referee will be conflicted and the JAC may ask you to find an alternative.
In addition please do not nominate the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, the President of the Family Division and the Chancellor of the High Court as they are statutory consultees. The judicial panel members for this exercise will be: Lady Justice Rafferty (QBD), Lady Justice King (FD), Mr Justice Morgan (Chancery) and Mr Justice Sweeney (QBD). They should not be approached for references either.
The first stage is a paper sift. A sift panel, consisting of a Court of Appeal and a High Court judge, a JAC panel chair and a JAC lay member, will consider the information provided on your application together with the references. The sift will take place between 11 and 26 January 2016. Individual feedback will be included in the outcome email to candidates that are unsuccessful following the paper sift. We aim to issue outcome emails around 2 February 2016.
As required by the Judicial Appointment Regulations 2013, the JAC will be carrying out consultation. The consultees for this exercise will be: the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Leveson (President of the Queen’s Bench Division), Sir James Munby (President of the Family Division) and Sir Terence Etherton (Chancellor of the High Court). The consultation will take place following the shortlisting of candidates invited to selection days and the information provided by statutory consultees will be used to inform selection decisions.
If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to a selection day. The interview will be enhanced with situational questioning to assess competencies that may not be tested by an interview alone. There will be a single scenario which will cover all three jurisdictions. Ahead of the selection day, you may be provided with material that will enable you to prepare. On the day itself, you will be given a scenario based on a real-life, challenging, job-related situation. You will have further time to prepare your response before you meet the panel. The interview will consist of the panel seeking evidence from you against the competencies for the post. The overall assessment made by the panel is provided to the Commissioners when they make their selection decisions.
The selection days will be between 17 February and 3 March 2016 inclusive. You must be available to attend on one of these dates and should state your availability in the relevant section of the online application.
More information about selection day, including interviews
The Commission, sitting as the Selection and Character Committee (SCC), will consider which candidates to recommend to the Appropriate Authority as set out in the Judicial Appointment Regulations 2013. For this exercise the Appropriate Authority will be the Lord Chancellor.
In doing so the Commission will consider all the information gathered about the candidates, which includes the overall assessment report from the selection panel, the references and statutory consultation comments.
In line with its published policy, the Commission will apply the Equal Merit Provision to this exercise. If the SCC considers two or more candidates are of equal merit, it may use the provision based on the data declared by candidates in the diversity monitoring form. The policy can be found on the JAC website
The relevant datasets that will be used to identify any under-representation at the High Court level are taken from 2011 Census, detailed Characteristics, England and Wales (ONS 2012) and the diversity statistics showing the background of the courts judiciary (as at April 2014), based upon primary appointment, as published on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website.
The population of the United Kingdom ('usual residents') aged 25 - 74 that are women is 50.4% and that is BAME is 11.3%
The proportion of High Court judges that are women is 20% and of those who declared their ethnicity 3% declared they were from a BAME background.
Report to the Appropriate Authority
The Commission reports its final selections to the Appropriate Authority, the Lord Chancellor, who can accept or reject this recommendation, or ask the Commission to reconsider it. The Appropriate Authority may not select an alternative candidate.
Outcome of the selection exercise
Please note that we will issue the results to successful and unsuccessful candidates who attended a selection day, on the same day. This will be done three to four weeks following the SCC meeting and by email unless you have indicated otherwise. We, therefore, expect to be able to inform you of the outcome of your application by the end of May 2016.
If you are unsuccessful following the selection day stage of the process, you can request written feedback. 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.
The JAC provides reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled candidates are not placed at a substantial disadvantage. We will also consider making reasonable adjustments for those suffering from short-term injury or temporary illness. Details can be found in the JAC's reasonable adjustments policy.
If you have any questions regarding this role or your application, please contact Francoise Cave on 0203 334 6078 or Linda McCabe on 0203 334 6588.
Alternatively, please email the team inbox: email@example.com