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Legal Analysis Legal Professionals

What is the Legal Services Board ?

The Legal Services Board (LSB) is an independent regulatory body that oversees the legal services sector in England and Wales. Its role is multifaceted, encompassing standards-setting, approval, regulation of legal services providers, and consumer guidance. Here are the key aspects of the LSB:

  1. Purpose and Oversight:
  2. Reshaping Legal Services Strategy:
    • The LSB’s strategy aims to reshape legal services to better meet society’s needs.
    • It focuses on fair outcomes, confidence-building, and improved services.
    • The Reshaping Legal Services Conference 2024 explored these themes.
  3. Ethics, Transparency, and Diversity:
    • The LSB works on projects related to professional ethics, market transparency, and legal technology and innovation.
    • It promotes a diverse legal services sector accessible to all.

History and Role of the Legal Services Board

The primary mission of the Legal Services Board is to ensure the effective regulation of legal services, promoting transparency, fairness, and consumer protection.

  1. Background and Reforms:
    • The Legal Service Act 2007 aimed to modernize the legal sector by introducing independent oversight.
    • It designated professional representative bodies (such as the Bar Council and the Law Society) as approved regulators.
    • These regulators were required to delegate their regulatory functions to independent arms overseen by the LSB.
  2. Approved Regulators and Licensing Authorities:
    • The LSB directly regulates lawyers practicing in England and Wales through approved regulators.
    • Some of these regulators also serve as licensing authorities, granting licenses to alternative business structures (ABS) that provide reserved legal activities.
    • Let’s explore the approved regulators and their areas of regulation:
    • Solicitors:
      • Approved Regulator (AR): Law Society (representative body)
      • Independent Regulatory Body: Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
      • Reserved Legal Activities Regulated:
        • Right of audience
        • Conduct of litigation
        • Reserved instrument activities
        • Probate activities
        • Administration of oaths
    • Barristers:
      • Approved Regulator (AR): Bar Council (representative body)
      • Independent Regulatory Body: Bar Standards Board (BSB)
      • Reserved Legal Activities Regulated (similar to solicitors)
    • Chartered Legal Executives:
      • Approved Regulator (AR): Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) (representative body)
      • Independent Regulatory Body: CILEx Regulation
      • Reserved Legal Activities Regulated (similar to solicitors)
    • Licensed Conveyancers:
      • Approved Regulator (AR): Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) (regulatory body, no representative functions)
      • Reserved Legal Activities Regulated (specific to conveyancing)
    • Patent Attorneys:
    • Trade Mark Attorneys:
  3. Oversight and Recommendations:
    • The LSB supervises the entire regulatory framework.
    • It oversees the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and recommends amendments to the list of reserved legal activities.
    • The LSB also ensures the Office for Legal Complaints (which administers the Legal Ombudsman scheme) operates effectively.

For more detailed information, visit the Legal Services Board website.

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Legal Professionals

Direct Access Barrister

A Direct Access Barrister, also known as a Public Access Barrister, enables members of the public to directly instruct a qualified barrister without the need for an intermediary such as a solicitor. This scheme provides individuals and companies with a more accessible and cost-effective way to seek legal advice and representation.

The Direct Access Scheme

The Direct Access Scheme allows clients to bypass the traditional route of engaging a solicitor and directly engage a barrister. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Instructing an Authorised Barrister: Under this scheme, you can instruct an authorised barrister directly. These barristers are qualified and regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
  • Scope of Services: A direct access barrister can provide a range of legal services, including:
    • Expert legal advice on case merits and potential outcomes.
    • Assistance with drafting correspondence.
    • Drafting statements from litigants and witnesses.
    • Preparing formal court documents.
    • Advising on suitable experts and drafting instructions to expert witnesses.
    • Guidance on the next steps in legal proceedings.
    • Assistance in resolving your case.
    • Representation in court.
  • Limitations: Most direct access barristers do not conduct litigation. Therefore, the day-to-day management of your case remains your responsibility.

Eligibility and Legal Aid

Here are some important points regarding eligibility and legal aid:

  • Legal Aid Exclusion: Direct access barristers cannot undertake publicly funded (legal aid) work. If you believe you qualify for legal aid, you can check your eligibility using the Legal Aid Eligibility Calculator.
  • Privately Funded Basis: If you are eligible for legal aid but prefer direct access, you can still instruct a barrister on a privately funded basis.

Benefits of a Direct Access Barrister

Why choose a direct access barrister?

  • Cost Savings: By eliminating the need for a solicitor, you can save on legal fees.
  • Control and Efficiency: You have direct control over your case, allowing for efficient communication and decision-making.
  • Specialist Advice: Direct access barristers often specialize in specific areas of law, providing tailored expertise.

Using the Direct Access Portal

The Direct Access Portal (DAP), launched in March 2022, offers an improved process for finding suitable direct access barristers. Run by the Bar Council, the DAP ensures that all listed barristers meet the necessary qualifications and standards.

  • Search and Contact: Use the DAP to search for and contact specialist barristers directly.
  • Complaints: The DAP does not handle complaints against barristers. If you have a complaint, contact the barrister directly and request their complaints procedure or contact the Bar Standards Board.

In summary, direct access barristers empower individuals and businesses to access legal services efficiently, while maintaining control over their cases.

Whether you need advice, representation, or assistance, a direct access barrister offers a transparent and accessible path to justice.

Check out our articles on Barristers, Four Inns of Court, Bar Standards Board, Bar Standards Board Justice ?, Solicitors, Rule of Law and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

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Legal Professionals

What is a Paralegal ?

A paralegal is a legal professional who performs tasks that require knowledge of legal concepts but does not hold the full expertise of a lawyer with an admission to practice law. These skilled individuals play a crucial role in supporting lawyers and law firms across various legal domains.

Tasks and Responsibilities

Paralegals engage in a wide range of duties, assisting lawyers in their day-to-day work. Some common tasks include:

  • Legal Research: Conducting research on case law, statutes, regulations, and legal precedents.
  • Document Preparation: Drafting legal documents, contracts, and correspondence.
  • Interviewing Witnesses: Gathering information from witnesses and clients.
  • Case Management: Organizing case files, maintaining records, and tracking deadlines.
  • Trial Preparation: Assisting in trial preparation by organizing evidence, witness lists, and exhibits.
  • Client Communication: Maintaining professional communication with clients.

Distinction Between Paralegals and Lawyers

While lawyers analyse legal matters from various angles, considering implications, consequences, and strategy, paralegals focus on executing the course of action recommended by lawyers. Their work involves practical implementation, such as interviewing witnesses, conducting research, and completing legal paperwork.

Crossover with Lawyers

In some practice areas, paralegals handle cases from start to finish, especially when dealing with routine matters like conveyancing, probate, debt recovery, or small claims. However, lawyers continue to handle complex cases or those involving substantial sums of money, such as mergers, murder trials, and high-stakes divorces. Paralegals’ involvement in such instances tends to be peripheral.

Examples of Paralegal Work

Here are some real-world examples of paralegal tasks:

  • Probate and Family Law: Handling divorce cases or probate matters within a solicitors’ firm.
  • Property Transactions: Assisting in land purchases and property sales for development companies.
  • Trademark Registration: Registering and defending trademarks for businesses.
  • Animal Cruelty Prosecutions: Working with the RSPCA prosecutions team.
  • Immigration Law Advice: Providing immigration law guidance to clients.
  • Consumer Law Protection: Advising on consumer rights within local authority trading standards departments.
  • Citizens Advice Volunteer: Assisting the public with employment, housing, and other issues.
  • Crown Prosecution Service: Supporting legal proceedings.
  • Company Incorporation: Handling company secretarial work for solicitors’ firms, accountancy firms, or company formation practices

Paralegal Links

Certainly! Here’s a curated list of UK-based paralegal websites that you might find valuable:

  1. Professional Paralegal Register (PPR): The PPR is a voluntary registered scheme and regulator for professional paralegals. Employers and the public can be assured that paralegals on the register meet required standards. Paralegals with a Paralegal Practising Certificate (PPC) are fully regulated to offer legal services to consumers.
  2. How to Become a Paralegal in the UK: This website provides insights into becoming a paralegal in the UK. It also highlights job opportunities advertised on platforms like Indeed and Reed.
  3. UK Law Blogs: Discover the best UK law blogs ranked by traffic, social media followers, and freshness. Stay updated on legal trends and news from these informative blogs.
  4. National Paralegal Register: If you’re looking for a paralegal to assist with a legal issue, use this register. You can shortlist paralegals based on region and legal expertise. Check if a paralegal is a NALP member using the filters.

In summary, paralegals are essential contributors to the legal field, bridging the gap between legal theory and practical implementation. Their expertise ensures the efficient functioning of legal processes and supports lawyers in delivering effective legal services.

Check out our articles on Barristers, Direct Access Barristers, Four Inns of Court, Bar Standards Board, Bar Standards Board Justice ?, Solicitors, Rule of Law and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

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Legal Professionals

Barristers

A barrister is anyone who has been Called to the Bar in England and Wales. For a barrister to offer a full range of legal services (including what are known as “reserved legal activities”) a barrister must also be authorised to practise. These barristers are recorded on the Barristers’ Register which records their practising status and address, the reserved legal activities they are authorised to undertake and whether they have been the subject of any disciplinary findings.

Barristers who are not authorised to practise are allowed to provide a more limited range of legal services but they must not refer to themselves as barristers in doing so.

Called to the Bar is the symbolic barrier separating the public from those admitted to the well of the Court.

Role of a Barrister

A barrister is a legal professional who specializes in court advocacy and provides independent legal advice to clients. Here are key points about their role:

  • Court Advocacy: Barristers represent clients in court proceedings, both in defense and prosecution. They present arguments, cross-examine witnesses, and make legal submissions.
  • Independent Advice: Clients can directly instruct barristers without involving a solicitor. Barristers offer expert advice on case merits, potential outcomes, and legal strategies.
  • Self-Employed: Most barristers are self-employed and work from chambers. However, some may work in government agencies or private organizations.

Practice Areas

Barristers work across various legal practice areas. Some common ones include:

  • Criminal Law: Representing clients in criminal trials, appeals, and sentencing hearings.
  • Family Law: Handling divorce, child custody, and financial disputes.
  • Commercial Law: Advising on business contracts, disputes, and corporate matters.
  • Employment Law: Dealing with workplace disputes, discrimination claims, and employment contracts.
  • Personal Injury: Representing clients in accident claims and compensation cases.
  • Property Law: Assisting with property transactions, disputes, and landlord-tenant matters.

Qualifications

To become a barrister in England and Wales, follow these steps:

  1. Qualifying Law Degree: Obtain an LLB Law degree or a non-law degree followed by a conversion course (such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Law or Master of Arts in Law).
  2. Bar Practice Course (BPC): Complete the BPC, a postgraduate course that prepares graduates for barrister practice. Passing the BPC is a prerequisite for the final stage of training called pupillage.

Essential Skills

Barristers need a diverse skill set:

  • Communication: Ability to interact with various people effectively.
  • Analytical Thinking: Logical approach to problem-solving.
  • Advocacy: Representing clients’ interests persuasively in court.
  • Attention to Detail: Crucial for legal research and case preparation.
  • Time Management: Juggling multiple cases efficiently.
  • Commercial Awareness: Understanding business and industry contexts.

In summary, barristers are legal advocates who specialize in court representation and provide vital legal advice. Whether in criminal trials, family disputes, or commercial matters, their expertise ensures justice and fairness in the legal system.

Check out our articles on Direct Access Barristers, Four Inns of Court, Bar Standards Board, Bar Standards Board Justice ?, Solicitors, Rule of Law and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

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Legal Professionals

The Four Inns of Court

The Inns of Court are professional associations for barristers in England and Wales. They are responsible for the training and qualification of barristers, who are the specialised courtroom advocates in the British legal system. Every barrister must belong to one of these Inns.

London’s Four Inns of Court are renowned for their rich history, prestigious legal education and significant role in shaping the British legal system.

These four Inns of Court are Lincoln’s Inn, Gray’s Inn, Inner Temple, and Middle Temple

Historical Origins of the Inns of Court

During the 12th and early 13th centuries, law was primarily taught by the clergy in the City of London. However, a papal bull in 1218 prohibited the clergy from practicing in secular courts. Laymen gradually took over legal practice and teaching. Guilds of law, modelled on trade guilds, eventually evolved into the Inns of Court.

The Four Inns of Court

Lincoln’s Inn

History: Established in the 14th century, The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn is one of the oldest Inns of Court. It takes its name from the area of London where it is located. The Inn’s origins can be traced back to the legal lectures and apprenticeships that took place here in the medieval period. Over time, Lincoln’s Inn became a hub for legal education and practice, attracting aspiring lawyers from across England.

Notable Features: Lincoln’s Inn boasts impressive architectural heritage, with its stunning Great Hall dating back to the 15th century. The Chapel, Library, and Gardens further enhance its historic appeal.

Key Figures: Many distinguished legal minds have been associated with Lincoln’s Inn, including Thomas More, Lord Mansfield, and Lord Denning.

Gray’s Inn

History: The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, situated near Holborn, has origins dating back to at least the 14th century. Like other Inns, Gray’s Inn served as a place of legal study and networking for aspiring lawyers. Its members played significant roles in the legal and political spheres throughout history.

Notable Features: The Gray’s Inn Hall, built in 1560, is a highlight of this institution. The Walks, a serene garden area, provide a tranquil retreat in the heart of bustling London.

Key Figures: Francis Bacon, one of England’s most famous philosophers and statesmen, was associated with Gray’s Inn.

Inner Temple

History: The Honourable Society of Inner Temple, located in the Temple area of London, traces its roots to the Knights Templar, who originally owned the land. By the 14th century, it had become a significant legal centre. The Inns of Court played essential roles in legal education and fostering professional standards.

Notable Features: The Inner Temple Hall, completed in 1572, is an architectural gem with historical significance. The tranquil Inner Temple Gardens offer a serene escape amidst London’s bustling streets.

Key Figures: Sir Edward Coke, a renowned jurist and parliamentarian, was associated with Inner Temple.

Middle Temple

History: The Honourable Society of Middle Temple, adjacent to Inner Temple, also has medieval origins and was associated with the Knights Templar. It became a distinct legal institution by the late 14th century. Middle Temple has played a crucial role in legal education and professional development.

Notable Features: Middle Temple Hall, completed in 1573, is renowned for its grandeur and historic significance. The buildings and gardens of Middle Temple offer a captivating glimpse into London’s legal and architectural heritage.

Key Figures: Notable members include Sir Walter Raleigh and Lord Eldon.

In the late 20th century, many barristers’ chambers moved outside the Inns’ precincts due to growth in the legal profession and a desire for more modern accommodations. However, the Inns of Court continue to play a vital role in legal education and professional development.

In summary, the Inns of Court are not merely historical relics; they remain essential institutions for barristers, shaping legal practice and tradition to this day.

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Legal Professionals

What is a Notary ?

A Notary is a qualified lawyer and a member of the oldest branch of the legal profession in the United Kingdom. In this article we explore the role, qualifications and historical context of notaries.

Role of a Notary

  1. Authentication and Certification:
    • Notaries specialise in authenticating and certifying signatures, authority, and capacity related to documents for use abroad.
    • They ensure the validity and reliability of legal documents in international transactions.
  2. General Legal Practice:
    • Notaries are authorised to conduct general legal practice, excluding court proceedings.
    • Their work spans various areas, including conveyancing (property transactions) and probate (handling wills and estates).
  3. Commissioner for Oaths:
    • Notaries can exercise the powers of a Commissioner for Oaths.
    • They administer oaths and affirmations for legal purposes.

Role of a Scrivener Notary

Scrivener Notaries specialise in foreign law and may become freemen of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners.

  • Authentication and Certification:
    • Scrivener Notaries focus on authenticating and certifying signatures, authority, and capacity related to documents for use abroad.
    • They ensure the validity and reliability of legal documents in international transactions.
  • Advanced Legal Practice:
    • Scrivener Notaries are authorized to conduct general legal practice, excluding court proceedings.
    • Their work extends to areas such as conveyancing (property transactions) and probate (handling wills and estates).
  • Multilingual Skills:
    • Scrivener Notaries are trained in advanced aspects of notarial practice and are proficient in at least two foreign languages.
    • Their linguistic qualifications ensure effective communication in international contexts.

Historical Roots

  • The office of a notary public traces its origins to ancient Rome.
  • In England and Wales, notaries were appointed on papal authority by the Archbishop of Canterbury until 1533.
  • The Faculty Office has its origins in the Ecclesiastical Licences Act 1533.
  • After the break from Rome, appointments continued under the authority of the Crown.
  • The Archbishop’s jurisdiction is exercised through the Court of Faculties, one of the oldest English courts.
  • Since 1801, statutes enacted by Parliament underpin the appointment and regulation of notaries.

Qualifications and Regulation

  1. Education and Training:
    • Applicants generally hold a university degree or are qualified solicitors or barristers.
    • They must obtain a Diploma in Notarial Practice after prescribed study (offered by the University of London).
    • A formal warrant (faculty) under the seal of the Archbishop of Canterbury confirms their appointment as a Notary Public.
  2. Appointment and Regulation:
    • Notaries are appointed by the Court of Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
    • They are subject to regulation by the Master of the Faculties.
    • Similar to solicitors, notaries must comply with stringent practice rules and maintain fidelity cover for client protection.
  3. Insurance and Compliance:
    • Notaries must be fully insured.
    • They keep clients’ funds separate from their own.
    • Annual practising certificates are renewed only if they adhere to rules and demonstrate satisfactory character.

Governance and Renewal

  • The Faculty Office oversees notaries’ training, qualification, and governance.
  • The Registrar issues the annual practising certificate.
  • Notaries renew their certificates annually by complying with rules and regulations.

Notaries vs. Solicitors

  • Notaries:
    • Primarily concerned with international transactions and document authentication.
    • Some notaries also handle general legal practice.
    • Notaries may or may not be solicitors.
    • Scrivener notaries are a specialized group within the profession.
  • Solicitors:
    • Provide specialist legal advice across various areas of law.
    • Represent and defend clients’ legal interests.
    • Work closely with clients and are often their first point of contact.
    • Advise on personal matters (e.g., wills, divorces) and commercial work (e.g., mergers, acquisitions).

General Notaries vs. Scrivener Notaries

  • General Notaries:
    • Most general notaries also practice as solicitors.
    • Their work includes authentication, certification, and general legal practice.
    • Some general notaries do not practice as solicitors.
  • Scrivener Notaries:
    • Specialized in advanced notarial services.
    • Proficient in foreign law and languages.
    • Scrivener Notaries may or may not be solicitors.

Notary Links

The Notaries Society
The Society of Scrivener Notaries
The Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury

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Legal Professionals

Solicitors

A solicitor is a qualified legal professional who plays a crucial role in the legal system of England and Wales. Let’s explore what solicitors do, their qualifications and the essential skills.

Role of a Solicitor

  1. Legal Advice and Representation:
    • Solicitors provide specialist legal advice across various areas of law.
    • They represent and defend clients’ legal interests.
    • Clients can be individuals, groups, public sector organizations, or private companies.
  2. Client Liaison:
    • As a solicitor, you work closely with clients and are often their first point of contact.
    • You take instructions from clients and advise them on necessary legal actions.
  3. Diverse Areas of Practice:
    • Solicitors handle a wide range of issues:
      • Personal matters: Wills, divorces, and family law.
      • Commercial work: Mergers, acquisitions, and business transactions.
  4. Work Settings:
    • Once qualified, solicitors can work in various settings:
      • Private practice: Running their own law firms.
      • In-house: Advising commercial or industrial organizations.
      • Government: Local or central government roles.
      • Court service: Participating in legal proceedings.

Qualifications for Becoming a Solicitor

  1. Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE):
    • Introduced in September 2021, the SQE is the new centralized assessment for solicitor qualification.
    • It replaces the traditional Legal Practice Course (LPC) route.
    • The SQE consists of four stages:
      • Degree: Obtain a degree (or equivalent) in any subject.
      • SQE1 and SQE2 assessments: Pass these assessments.
      • Qualifying Work Experience (QWE): Complete a minimum of two years of relevant work experience.
      • Character and suitability: Demonstrate satisfactory character.
  2. Non-Law Graduates:
    • Non-law graduates acquire foundational legal knowledge through conversion courses:
      • Postgraduate Diploma in Law (PGDL).
      • Master of Arts in Law (MA Law Conversion).
      • Master of Arts in Law (MA Law SQE1).
      • SQE Law Essentials Online.

Essential Skills for Solicitors

  1. Professionalism:
    • Approach work with integrity and respect for confidentiality.
  2. Problem-Solving:
    • Analyse complex legal issues and find practical solutions.
  3. Research and Analysis:
    • Conduct thorough legal research to support cases.
  4. Communication:
    • Excellent written and oral communication skills are vital.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulates solicitors in England and Wales.

In summary, solicitors are legal professionals who combine legal expertise with client-focused service, ensuring justice and legal protection for individuals and organizations alike

Check out our articles on Solicitors Regulation Authority, Solicitors from Hell, Barristers, Direct Access Barristers, Bar Standards Board, Bar Standards Board Justice ?, Rule of Law, and the highly questionable Sussex Family Justice Board.

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Judiciary Legal Professionals

Judges

What is a Judge ?

A judge is a legal professional who presides over court proceedings and makes rulings and judgments on legal cases.

Judges are responsible for ensuring that trials are conducted fairly and impartially, and for interpreting and applying the law in accordance with the relevant statutes, legal precedents, and principles of justice.

The image of the Judge used in this article is not real and was created using Bing AI.

Check out our articles Could AI replace judges ? and Could AI replace lawyers ? for a detailed analysis of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and what it means for the Justice system not only in the UK but also around the world.

Types of Judges

  1. District Judges – who preside over cases in the County Court and in certain types of tribunals.
  2. Tribunal Judges – who preside over hearings in the various tribunals that exist to resolve disputes in specific areas of law. These tribunals include the Employment Tribunal, the First-tier Tribunal, the Upper Tribunal, and the Tax Tribunal, amongst others.
  3. Circuit Judges – who preside over cases in the Crown Court and some types of civil cases in the County Court.
  4. High Court Judges – who preside over cases in the High Court, which is a superior court with jurisdiction over a wide range of legal matters.
  5. Court of Appeal Judges – who preside over cases in the Court of Appeal, which hears appeals from the High Court and other lower courts.
  6. Supreme Court Justices – who preside over cases in the UK’s highest court, the Supreme Court, which is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases.

Day to Day tasks of a Judge

Judges daily tasks include :-

  • prepare for trials by reading papers submitted by legal teams
  • hear civil, family and criminal cases
  • listen to evidence from witnesses, defendants and victims
  • advise juries and legal teams on points of law
  • pass sentences on conviction and impose other penalties
  • reach decisions in tribunals, for example on employment disputes or immigration cases
  • help sides to find agreement in civil cases before proceedings begin
  • take expert opinion, for instance in custody or child welfare cases
  • hear appeals and review decisions of lower courts
  • write reports, giving reasons for rulings
  • keep up to date with legal developments
National Careers Service

Judges Pay and Hours

According to the National Careers Service judges can expect to get paid up to £267,509 and work up to 42 hours in a typical week. Please also see our article on Judges Salaries and Fees.

Working Hours of Judges

Some people do mistakenly think that judges’ working hours are confined to court sitting hours, which are normally 10.30am-4.30pm.

But the reality is very different; most judges also carry a lot of ‘box work’ (paperwork) on current and future (and sometimes past) cases – especially as most cases are settled or concluded before they reach the stage of a court hearing. It is not unusual for judges to work late into the evening, writing judgments and reading files of evidence and letters from parties. They do not claim overtime for this.

There are 4 terms in the legal year, which are the main sitting times for the High Court and Court of Appeal. Most courts do have sittings around the year, and even in the High Court and Court of Appeal, emergency hearings and processing of cases continue during the vacations.

Senior judges use the ‘vacation’ periods between terms to catch up on new legislation and case law, as well as undertaking formal training.

Courts and Tribunal Judiciary Working Hours

Judicial sitting days

Court of Appeal Judges and High Court Judges are expected to devote themselves to judicial business throughout the legal year which usually amounts to somewhere in the region of 185-190 days.

Circuit Judges are expected to sit for a minimum of 210 days, although the expectation is for between 215-220 per year.

District Judges are expected to sit for a minimum of 215 days.

Judges also have out of court duties to perform such as reading case papers, writing judgments, and keeping up to date with new developments in the law.

Courts and Tribunal Judiciary The legal year, term dates and sitting days

The Legal Year

The origins of the legal year are the service in Westminster Abbey which dates back to 1897 when judges prayed for guidance at the start of the legal term. Judges, whose courts were held in Westminster Hall, left the city and walked to the abbey to take part in the service.

The ceremonies now are more or less as they have always been but, instead of the two mile walk from Temple Bar to Westminster Abbey, the judges now travel by car.

The 45-minute service, which starts at 11:30am, is conducted by the Dean of Westminster. It includes prayers, hymns, psalms and anthems; the Lord Chancellor reads a lesson.

Around 700 people are invited to attend the service and breakfast. These include judges, senior judicial officers, the Law Officers, King’s Counsel (KC), government ministers, lawyers, members of the European Court and other overseas judges and lawyers. Judges and KCs wear ceremonial dress.

Courts and Tribunal Judiciary The legal year, term dates and sitting days

Term Dates

The term dates for the legal year apply to sittings in the High Court and Court of Appeal only, and are fixed in accordance with the Practice Direction 39B which supplements Part 39 of the Civil Procedure Rules.

2023

Hilary: Wednesday 11 January to Wednesday 5 April 2023
Easter: Tuesday 18 April to Friday 26 May 2023
Trinity: Tuesday 6 June to Monday 31 July 2023
Michaelmas: Monday 2 October to Thursday 21 December 2023

2024

Hilary: Thursday 11 January to Wednesday 27 March 2024
Easter: Tuesday 9 April to Friday 24 May 2024
Trinity: Tuesday 4 June to Wednesday 31 July 2024
Michaelmas: Tuesday 1 October to Friday 20 December 2024

Courts and Tribunal Judiciary The legal year, term dates and sitting days

How to Become a Judge

You can only become a Judge through an official appointment.

Volunteering

You can get valuable experience and insights into the work of a judge through the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme. This may help if you later apply for selection to become a judge.

You normally have to be a qualified legal professional, with at least 7 years’ experience in law-related work to join.

If you have been on the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme, you can apply for a place on the Judicial Mentoring Scheme. This scheme is open to applications from people who are currently under-represented in the judiciary. For example:

  • women
  • ethnic minorities
  • lawyers with a state school education
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Other routes to becoming a Judge

Judges are appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission. You’ll need to apply to them to be considered for selection.

To apply, you must:

  • be a qualified solicitor, barrister or chartered legal executive
  • have worked as a legal professional for between 5 and 7 years, depending on the type of judge you want to be
  • meet nationality requirements

Common starting roles include district, recorder and tribunal judges. For certain other judicial roles, you can apply if you’re an experienced legal academic, or trademark or patent attorney.

You must successfully complete several application stages to get through to shortlisting by the Commission. You’ll then be invited to attend an assessment and selection day, which will include interviews.

National Careers Service

Like all professions there are dodgy or rogue elements and the judiciary are not exempt from these type of people. You may be interested in our article about Dodgy Judges.

Read the reviews of Gavin Howe Barrister, who in my opinion, is unlikely to ever become a Judge.

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Judiciary Legal Professionals

What is the Judiciary ?

The Judiciary in England and Wales is made up of judges, magistrates, tribunal members, and coroners. Together, they uphold the rule of law.

The three key values which are central to the role of judicial office holders (JOHs) in England and Wales are:

Independence / Impartiality / Integrity

The core principles

JOHs are required to adhere to these core principles both inside and outside the courtroom. These form part of the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, which were endorsed at the 59th session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission at Geneva in April 2003. The principles state:

  1. Judicial independence is a prerequisite to the rule of law and a fundamental guarantee of a fair trial. A judge shall therefore uphold and exemplify judicial independence in both its individual and institutional aspects.
  2. Impartiality is essential to the proper discharge of the judicial office. It applies not only to the decision itself but also to the process by which the decision is made.
  3. Integrity is essential to the proper discharge of the judicial office.
  4. Propriety, and the appearance of propriety, are essential to the performance of all of the activities of the judge.
  5. Ensuring equality of treatment to all before the courts is essential to the due performance of the judicial office.
  6. Competence and diligence are prerequisites to the due performance of judicial office.

Independence

The judiciary should be fair and transparent, free of any influence outside the rule of law.

In a democracy, it is of vital importance that the public and those who appear before judges trust that their cases will be decided in accordance with the law. This can only be achieved if judges and the judiciary as a whole are independent of external pressures and of each other. For judges to discharge their constitutional responsibility of providing fair and impartial justice, it is solely relevant facts and law that should form the basis of their decisions.

When carrying out their judicial function judges must be free of any improper influence, such as pressure by individual litigants, commercial interests, the media, politicians, and their own self-interest. They must not allow potential public or media responses to skew their decision-making. This does not, however, mean displaying no awareness of the profound consequences that judicial decisions inflict on the lives of people before them, and often upon issues of great interest to society at large.

In the last century, the responsibilities of judges in disputes between the citizen and the state have increased together with the growth in governmental functions. The responsibility of the judiciary to protect citizens against unlawful acts of government has increased, and with it the need for the judiciary to be independent of government.

A practical example of the importance of judicial independence is where a high-profile matter, generating a great deal of media interest, comes before the court. This may be the criminal trial of a person accused of a shocking murder, the divorce of celebrities or challenges to the legality of government policy, such as the availability of a new and expensive drug to NHS patients. In the 24-hour media age in which we live, it stands to reason that the judge hearing the case will often be under intense scrutiny, with decisions open to intense debate. It is right that this is so, but it is equally important that decisions in court are made in accordance with the law and are not determined by external pressures.

Impartiality

The judiciary should treat all members of the public equally and fairly, no matter who they are.

Judges strive to ensure that their conduct, both in and out of court, maintains and enhances the confidence of the public, the legal profession and litigants, in their personal impartiality and that of the judiciary.

It follows that judges should, so far as is reasonable, avoid extra-judicial activities that could result in reasonable apprehension of bias or would result in a conflict of interest. This may involve refraining from sitting in a case where they have a close family relationship with a litigant or avoiding involvement with a political party, in such a way as to give the appearance of political bias. They should also avoid taking part in public demonstrations which might diminish their authority as a judge or create a perception of bias in subsequent cases.

It is, however, important for members of the court to deliver lectures and speeches, partake in conferences and seminars and contribute to debate on matters of public interest in the law, the administration of justice, and the judiciary. In making such contributions, judges will take special care to avoid associating themselves with a particular organisation, group or cause in such a way as to give rise to a perception of partiality towards that organisation, group or cause in the conduct of their judicial duties.

Integrity

Judges’ conduct must be bound by principles of honesty and respect, and may require putting the obligations of judicial office above their own personal interests.

Judges are expected to display:

  • Intellectual honesty
  • Respect for the law and observance of the law
  • Prudent management of financial affairs
  • Diligence and care in the discharge of judicial duties
  • Discretion in personal relationships, social contacts and activities

Generally, judges are entitled to exercise the rights and freedoms available to all citizens. Appointment to judicial office brings with it limitations on the private and public conduct of a judge, but that is not to say judges must refrain entirely from community affairs, as there is great public interest in their engagement. It is also necessary to strike a balance between the requirements of judicial office and the legitimate demands of the judge’s personal and family life.

However, they must accept that the nature of their office exposes them to considerable scrutiny and puts constraints on their behaviour which other people may not experience. They should avoid situations which might reasonably lower respect for their judicial office or might cast doubt upon their impartiality as judges. They must also avoid situations which might expose them to charges of hypocrisy by reason of things done in their private life.

The judge should seek to be courteous, patient, tolerant and punctual and should respect the dignity of all. They must ensure that no one in court is exposed to any display of bias or prejudice on grounds said in the Bangalore principle entitled “equality” to include but not to be limited to “race, colour, sex, religion, national origin, caste, disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, social and economic status and other like causes”.

Guidance for JOHs

The Equal Treatment Bench Book is an extensive document which functions as a key work of reference for the judiciary on the matter of equal treatment for all, covering in detail topics such as ethnicity, religion, disability, sexuality, gender, and more. It is continuously updated to reflect changing social circumstances and to include areas of newer, growing research. More recent additions include sections on modern slavery and multicultural communication. JOHs refer to the text for assistance on how best they can tailor conduct and communication styles to create a professional and inclusive courtroom environment. In July 2022 an interim revision of the book was issued, which you can access by clicking here: Equal Treatment Bench Book – Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.

The Guide to Judicial Conduct explains these principles to judges, and provides practical guidance on a wide range of everyday situations.

Training is provided to new judges in independence, integrity and impartiality, and the principles are often addressed in programmes for continuing training.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) is an independent office which supports the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice in considering complaints about the personal conduct of judicial office holders

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Read the reviews of Gavin Howe Barrister

“He is awful, underhanded and should not be practising law!”

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