The Selection Process of District Judges and Lay Magistrates
Lay magistrates in England and Wales are appointed by the Lord
Chancellor on behalf of the Queen. In the Duchy of Lancaster they are
appointed by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The procedure
is as follows:
Individuals make an application to the Local Advisory Committee, which
consists of magistrates and other local people. People or
organisations may also recommend a candidate for appointment.
Committees also advertise for magistrates.
The Committee will consider if the person has the qualities to serve
as a magistrate or is disqualified from being appointed.
The Committee will also consider the local bench requirements. Each
bench should broadly reflect the community it serves in terms of age,
gender, ethnic origin, geographical spread, occupation, political
affiliation, and membership of clubs/organisations.
The applicant will then be interviewed.
The Committee will recommend suitable candidates to the Lord
According to an official handout from the Lord Chancellor's
Department, the key qualities sought in those applying to be
magistrates are as follows:
Good character: Personal integrity - respect and trust of others -
respect for confidences - absence of any matter which might bring them
or the Magistracy into disrepute - willingness to be circumspect in
private, working and public life.
Understanding and communication: Ability to understand documents,
identify and comprehend relevant facts, and follow evidence and
arguments - ability to concentrate - ability to communicate
Social awareness: Appreciation and acceptance of the rule of law -
understanding of the local communities and society in general -
respect for people from different ethnic, cultural or social
backgrounds - experience of life beyond family, friends and work.
Maturity and sound temperament: Ability to relate to and work with
others - regard for the views of others - willingness to consider
advice - maturity - humanity - courage - firmness - decisiveness
confidence - a sense of fairness - courtesy.
Sound judgement: Common sense - ability to think logically, weigh
arguments and reach a balanced decision - openness of mind -
objectivity - the recognition and setting aside of prejudices.
Commitment and reliability: Reliability - commitment to serve the
community - willingness to undertake at least 26 and up to 35 half day
sittings a year - willingness to undertake the required training -
ability to offer requisite time - support of family and employer -
sufficiently good health.
1b) identify and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the use
of lay magistrates?
Providing a cross-section of society
The system involves members of the community and provides a wider