Judicial Appointments Commission
The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) is an independent commission that selects candidates for judicial office in courts and tribunals in England and Wales and for some tribunals whose jurisdiction extends to Scotland or Northern Ireland.
The JAC recommends candidates for appointment as judges of the High Court and to all judicial offices listed in Schedule 14 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. It also provides support for selections to fill judicial posts that lie outside its responsibilities under Schedule 14. For example, the JAC convenes panels that recommend candidates for appointment to senior posts such as the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Master of the Rolls, President of the Queen's Bench Division, President of the Family Division, Chancellor of the High Court and Lords Justices of Appeal. The JAC is not responsible for selecting justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom although a lay Commissioner does sit on the selection panel. Additionally, the Lord Chancellor may request the JAC's assistance in connection with other appointments that the Lord Chancellor considers appropriate.
The JAC is a non-departmental public body which was created on 3 April 2006 through the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. It took over a responsibility previously held by the Lord Chancellor and the Department for Constitutional Affairs (previously the Lord Chancellor's Department), although the Lord Chancellor retains responsibility for appointing some selected candidates. In other cases the Lord Chief Justice or the Senior President of Tribunals makes the final appointments.
The Appropriate Authority (either the Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice or Senior President of Tribunals) can accept or reject a JAC recommendation, or ask the Commission to reconsider it. If the Appropriate Authority rejects a recommendation or asks for reconsideration they must provide written reasons to the JAC.
Under the Constitutional Reform Act, the Lord Chancellor also lost his other judicial functions, including the right to sit as a judge in the House of Lords. The Act also established the Lord Chief Justice as head of the judiciary of England and Wales. The Act has since been amended by the Crime and Courts Act 2013.
Under the Constitutional Reform Act Parliament gave the JAC the following statutory duties:
- to select candidates solely on merit;
- to select only people of good character; and
- to have regard to the need to encourage diversity in the range of persons available for judicial selection.
The Judicial Appointments Commission comprises 15 commissioners. Twelve, including the Chairman, are appointed through open competition, with the other three selected by the Judges' Council (two senior members of the courts judiciary) or the Tribunal Judges' Council (one senior member of the tribunals judiciary).
The Chairman of the Commission must always be a lay member. Of the 14 other Commissioners:
- 5 must be judicial members (of which one must be a senior tribunal judge)
- 2 must be professional members (each of whom must hold a qualification listed below but must not hold the same qualification as each other*)
- 5 must be lay members
- 1 must be a tribunal judge
- 1 must be a non-legally qualified judicial member
The legal qualifications referred to are:
- Barrister in England and Wales;
- Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales; or
- Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives
The members of the Commission (as at 31 March 2015) are:
- Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Rafferty (judicial)
- Ms Brie Stevens-Hoare, QC
- Ms Sarah Lee
- Her Honour Judge Anuja Dhir
- District Judge Mathangi Asokan
- His Honour Judge Philip Sycamore
- Mrs Justice Philippa Whipple
- Fiona Monk
- Emir Khan Feisal, JP
- Ms Jane Furniss CBE
- Ms Sue Hoyle
- Mr Andrew Kennon
- Professor Sir Simon Wessely
The JAC has a staff of around 50 public servants.
The Chief Executive is Dr Richard Jarvis, with Alice Ripley as Deputy Chief Executive, Sharon Foster-King as Head of Operations and Digital and Ian Thomson as Head of Corporate Services.
The Judicial Appointments Commission is separate from the Commission for Judicial Appointments (CJA). The CJA was established in March 2001 to review the procedures for the appointment of judges and QCs, and to investigate complaints into those procedures. It closed on 31 March 2006 with the establishment of the Judicial Appointments Commission and the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman (JACO). A separate Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland and Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission undertake similar functions for Scotland and Northern Ireland, respectively.