How to become a Magistrate

The selection process for becoming a magistrate consists of a number of phases including an application form and two sets of tough interviews. This excellent insider’s  download guide has been created by barristers and law professionals and covers every stage of the magistrate application process with sample application form responses and interview questions.

Magistrates are appointed by the Lord Chancellor on behalf of the Crown but he works very closely with the Lord Chief Justice who, as head of the judiciary, has considerable involvement with matters relating to magistrates. The Lord Chancellor, in close liaison with the Lord Chief Justice, operates through local Advisory Committees for these purposes.

These committees and the interview panels they form (which comprise both serving magistrates and members of the general public) will undertake the recruitment, interview and recommendation functions and, in doing so, will work to the Lord Chancellor’s national ‘Directions’.

It is important before you proceed to apply to become a magistrate that you check to see if there are any issues around your eligibility for appointment as governed by these directions.

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There are some absolute bars to appointment as a magistrate

This list is far from exhaustive and may, on occasions, be capable of special adaptation.

You should check with the guidance for applicants and/or your local Advisory Committee if you (or a spouse, partner or close relative) is in any way closely involved with any activity connected with magistrates’ courts which might possibly give rise to a potential conflict of interest.

Although being 65 years or over is not an automatic bar to appointment, in practice the selection and training process can be fairly lengthy and the Lord Chancellor would normally expect at least five years’ service before retirement from the bench occurs at aged 70 years.

There are many other personal factors that may or may not affect the likelihood of your appointment, which the Advisory Committee will need to evaluate.

If you want to learn more about becoming a magistrate then our guide will tell you everything you need to know about becoming a magistrate, including how to pass the selection process.

Reasons Why You Can’t Become a Magistrate:

  • You are under 18 years of age
  • Your health will prevent you from carrying out the duties properly
  • You are seeking asylum or hold a Sector Based Scheme Visa
  • You are an employee of the NSPCC or RSPCA (both of whom regularly bring cases to court)
  • You are aged 70 years or over
    by inference, you will not be appointed if you do not either live or work in England and Wales
  • You are a serving police officer, special constable, prison service employee, traffic warden, probation officer, bailiff, member of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) staff or directly involved in law enforcement

Do you have the ‘six key qualities’?

1. Good Character

What type of character do you think you need to have in order to become a magistrate? You must be honest and possess a high level of integrity. Before you are offered a position as magistrate the assessing panel will ask for references. Each reference that you provide must be capable of vouching for your character.

2. Understanding and Communication

Magistrates must be able to communicate effectively both in writing and verbally. They must also have a strong ability to understand, read and interpret written documents, and also extract relevant facts that will assist them in dealing with the case in hand.

3. Social Awareness

Having an understanding of society is crucial to the role of a magistrate. You must also understand and have respect for diversity and people from different cultures and social backgrounds. Ask yourself the following question – “Do I understand my local community?”

4. Maturity and Sound Temperament

All magistrates must have a good level of maturity and temperament. They must be capable of working with other people on a professional basis and understand that everybody has a differing opinion. They must have respect for other people and their differences and be able to reach agreed solutions to problems. They must also be assertive when required, decisive and confident, be fair and have respect and courtesy for everyone.

5. Sound Judgement

As a magistrate you must be capable of making sound judgements that are not based on your own personal feelings, prejudices or biased opinions. For example, if you have personally been the victim of burglary or theft previously, how would you feel if an offender was in front of you for a similar offence? Would you be inclined to pass down a tougher sentence, simply because you have been a victim before?

6. Commitment and Reliability

Because magistrates are not paid a salary the role requires a high level of commitment and motivation. You need to be motivated for different reasons other than financial gain. A commitment to serve the community is obviously a must and you will be assessed against this desire during the selection process. If you have already worked within the community previously then this can work in your favour. Any form of voluntary work will demonstrate to the assessors that you are committed and motivated by other reasons than financial reward.

The ‘good character and background question’

Both in the application form and at both interviews you will also be asked what used to be called the ‘Key Question’ but is now known as the ‘Good Character and Background Question’:

Is there anything in your private or working life or in your past, or to your knowledge in that of any member of your family or close friends, which, if it became generally known, might bring you or the magistracy into disrepute, or call into question your integrity, authority or standing as a magistrate?


Consider how you will answer the ‘Good Character and Background Question’ (you might end up answering it on three separate occasions).

It’s far better to be informed at the outset as there probably is nothing to worry about rather than to fail to mention an issue and then later for you to say that you thought that it was not relevant.

This may be viewed as evidence of poor judgement or a lack of integrity rather than openness and honesty. Knowing what is and is not relevant in any given situation is part and parcel of being a magistrate.

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How to Become a Magistrate Guide

  • The top insider tips and advice on how to pass the magistrate criminal law selection process;
  • How to successfully complete the magistrate application form;
  • The interview questions including case study and ranking exercises;
  • Lots of sample responses to the interview and application form questions;
  • Free ‘Interview Skills’ guide eBook.



  • What you need to know before you apply to become a magistrate
  • The essential qualities and attributes that are required to perform the role competently
  • How to study the role effectively and apply your skills to the selection process
  • Where to apply including application form details
  • The top INSIDER TIPS AND ADVICE brought to you from serving magistrates
  • What the selection process involves
  • Courtroom procedure
  • The process of sentencing


  • Where to obtain the application form and how to apply
  • Detailed information on what the assessors are looking for in successful applications
  • Sample successful responses to the application form
  • Using keywords and phrases that match the qualities required to become a magistrate
  • Insider tips on how to ensure your application gets through
  • The common mistakes that you MUST avoid if you are to be successful


  • Actual sample interview questions
  • Detailed explanation on what the Local Advisory Committee are looking for
  • Sample successful responses to the interview questions
  • How you will be assessed during the first and second interviews
  • Insider tips on how to pass the interviews
  • How to ensure SUCCESS and create the right impression

Free Bonus Items


Interview Skills E-Book

  • Effective introductions: The interview structure, interview questions and answers
  • Preparing psychologically, proving you want the job
  • What to research, what not to research
  • Overcoming interview nerves
  • How to relax during the interview, Having a Plan B
  • Follow-up letters, networking
  • Effective communication skills
  • Questions to ask the panel, what not to ask the panel
  • Creating success stories, avoiding mistakes, what to say at the end of the interview
  • Structuring a post-interview letter
Magistrate Online Interview Training Course Free Access

Online Magistrate Training – 30-Day Free Trial

When you order the ‘How To Become A Magistrate’ guide you will receive INSTANT 30-days FREE ACCESS to our online magistrate interview video training suite that will teach you how to pass the first magistrate interview! After the 30-day free trial is over the service is automatically charged at just £5.95 plus vat per month with no minimum term. You may cancel at any time. If you cancel before the 30-day trial is up, you will not be charged. Please see our terms and conditions for more details.