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Thursday, 3 September 2009

Applying to become a magistrate

Before applying to become a magistrate, there are a number of things you will need to consider, including your personal qualities, job and health.

Personal qualities

You don't need formal qualifications or legal training to become a magistrate.

However, you will need to be able to demonstrate six key personal qualities:

  • good character
  • understanding and communication
  • social awareness
  • maturity and sound temperament
  • sound judgement
  • commitment and reliability


Because of the need to maintain public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary, employees in a small number of occupations (for example, police officers) cannot become magistrates.

Good character

Magistrates must command the confidence of the public, have personal integrity and have the respect and trust of others. This means that, for example, it is unlikely that you will be appointed if you are an undischarged bankrupt.

Serious motoring offences or persistent offending may be a disqualification.

Health and disability

The magistracy welcomes applications from people with disability. However, if your health would prevent you from carrying out any of the range of magistrates' duties, you may not be eligible.

What you should do next

there are over 360 magistrates' courts in England and Wales - you can choose to sit at one near where you live or where you work

There are a few important issues to consider before you apply.

Firstly, your availability. You must be sure you can meet the required time commitment. You will also need to be available for training; initially equivalent to 18 hours and some meetings. Training and meetings usually take place outside of work hours.

Also, can you get time away from work? If you are employed, your employer is legally obliged to provide reasonable time off for magistrate duties. You will need to agree with your employer how you will manage any additional time away from work that you need.

Finally, which court will you work in? You  will need to decide which court to apply to sit at. There are more than 360 magistrates' courts in England and Wales. You can choose a court near to where you live or work. A list of all magistrates' courts can be found at your local court, or you can use the CourtFinder link below to find one in the relevant area.

Recruitment in your area

Magistrates are recruited by local Advisory Committees. Recruitment takes place at different times from area to area, so it is important to check when it is happening in your area. You can telephone your local Advisory Committee to find out when they will be recruiting and discuss any other queries you may have.

Visit a Magistrates' Court

So that you make an informed decision about whether or not to apply you will need to visit a magistrates' court to observe the magistrates sitting. You will need to visit at least once (but preferably two or three times) when it is sitting in general session, in the 12 months before you apply. Your visit should be specifically to observe proceedings with a view to considering whether to apply. If you are invited to an interview, you will be asked to talk about your visits. The application form guidance notes, linked below, have further information. Use the CourtFinder link above to find a court which is convenient for you to visit.

Once you have completed these steps you will be ready to apply.

If you would like more information before you apply, read the Ministry of Justice information booklet, linked below. It covers your role, conditions of service, credentials, training and the selection process.

Make your application

Once you are ready to apply, the process is as follows:

  • complete the application form
  • your local Advisory Committee assesses your application
  • the Advisory Committee may then invite you to attend a first interview, which may be followed by a further interview - if you are successful at the interviews, the Advisory Committee recommends you for appointment by the Lord Chancellor.

The selection process can take six to twelve months.

You can apply to become a magistrate in two ways:

  • online - using the interactive email attachment application form. Complete the form online, save it to your computer and attach it to an email addressed to your local Advisory Committee application contact
  • by post - using the printable application form. Complete the form by hand, in black ink, and post it back to your local Advisory Committee. Contact information is given in the 'Advisory Committees and Magistrates' Courts in England and Wales' directory

Help on completing the application form is given in the application form guidance notes, linked below.

Order an application pack

Application packs can also be ordered from the following addresses:

The Appointments Team
Ministry of Justice
Judicial Appointments and HR Division
Room 3.36
3rd Floor
102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ

You can also get an application pack by e-mail:

Additional links

Employer information

Find out your obligations as an employer on allowing time off for magistrate duties

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