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DISTRICT JUDGE - Sit in the County Court to hear small claims cases, in the Magistrates Court to hear criminal cases, and family matters. Must have been qualified as a barrister or solicitor for at least 5 years.

RECORDER JUDGE - Part time judges with a 5 year appointment. Sit in the Crown Court to hear criminal cases normally, but can be used in the County Court to hear civil cases if needed. Must have been qualified as a barrister or solicitor for at least 7 years.

CIRCUIT JUDGE - Sit in the County Court to hear civil cases, sit alone, deciding the law, facts and verdict. Also sit in the Crown Court to hear criminal cases, with verdict passed by a jury, and sentence passed by the judge. Must have been qualified as a barrister or solicitor for at least 7 years, or have been a recorder.

HIGH COURT JUDGE (PUISNE) - 73 judges in the Queens Bench Division, 18 in Chancery, 19 in Family. Try cases at first instance, make sentences, jury decides verdict. Can hear appeals. Must have been qualified as a barrister or solicitor for at least 7 years, or have been a Circuit judge for 2.

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LORD JUSTICE OF APPEAL - 38 Lord Justices, sit on criminal and civil appeals as a panel of 3. Huge workload, so usually sit with one Justice of Appeal and 2 High Court judges. Must be an existing High Court Judge or have been qualified as a barrister or solicitor for at least 7 years.

JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT - Hears around 70 cases per year, only deals with cases of national public importance where a point of law is in question. Decisions lead to precedent. Must have held high judicial office, or have been qualified to appear in senior courts for at least 15 years.

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Judicial Selection: Lord Chancellor selected prior to 2006 (supervised by Commission for Judicial Appointments). Criticised for being too secretive, and undiverse. Also, the Lord Chancellor is a political figure therefore should have no influence of the courts.

Now applicants are checked by the Judicial Appointments Commission made up of 15 members of different legal personnel. Vacancies are widely advertised in order to attract a diverse range of applicants. Candidates must provide 6 references, and for lower level applicants, an essay or case study. They are then shortlisted and interviewed.

The Justice of the Supreme Court is selected in accordance with the Constitutional Reform Act of 2005. A Supreme Court Selection Commission is convened, and the recommended applicant is passed onto the Lord Chancellor. They share this applicant with the Prime Minister, who recommends that the Queen formally appoints them.

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Training is carried out by the Judicial Studies Board, and tends to be focused on the inferior judges. Recorders must attend a four day training course and then shadow a more experienced judge before they themselves can hear cases. There are regular 1 day courses to update all judges on newer areas of law. However all judges are expected to maintain the correct knowledge of ever changing laws, whether they attend the course or not.

Since 1993 all Recorders and Circuit Judges must attend compulsory racial awareness training to prevent any unintentional discrimination, and human awareness courses to cover disability, gender awareness etc.

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- Very short training period

Reluctance to give more training as solicitors and barristers already have wide legal knowledge, however only in 1 or 2 specialist areas, when many judges sit on all types of cases.

- Inexperienced applicants applying and getting positions

Just because someone has worked in the legal profession for a long time doesn't mean they have the capability to work as a judge due to the higher pressures and responsibilities. .


The USA and Australia have judicial degrees to allow people to get specialist training as a judge. Doing this would ensure longer more extensive training, as well as tailored teaching to the judiciary profession.

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Security of Tenure means that a judge cannot be forced to resign if the government disagrees with a decision they have made. This guarantees impartiality without fear for personal consequences, as well as the separation of law and politics, which should always be two separate entities. The extent of tenure depends on the judge.

Superior judges cannot be dismissed, unless there is a petition signed by both houses of Parliament and the Queen. This has never been done before in the English Legal System.

Inferior judges can be dismissed by the Lord Chancellor for: incapacity, misbehaviour, discrimination, sexual harrassment, criminal offences. This was done in 2011 to High Court judge James Allen who was convicted for domestic abuse.

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