How to become a MAGISTRATE
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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.
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.
Do you have the ‘six key qualities’?
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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?
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.
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.
PREPARING FOR THE MAGISTRATE SELECTION PROCESS
HOW TO COMPLETE THE MAGISTRATE APPLICATION FORM TO ENSURE SUCCESS
HOW TO PASS THE MAGISTRATE FIRST AND SECOND INTERVIEWS
Interview Skills E-Book
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