Circuit Judge Competition 2017 – The Essentials

***** UPDATE *****

Deadline for applications extended by a week until 13:00 on Thursday 13 April.

NB with Easter holidays do make sure your assessors are available and can meet the 2 May deadline that hasn’t been put back!

“Your input has been invaluable” – Resident Judge Candidate

Some tweaks but in many ways, this is one of the most straight forward competitions that the JAC run. It has evolved over the years and now successful candidates know what they have to do: demonstrate their evidence of the competencies. You have two panels you need to convince – the short-listing panel and the selection day panel. There is some very helpful feedback, sound guidance and clear advice from the JAC on their website. There are expected to be 116.5 vacancies, but as with other competitions, the number may vary as the competition progresses.

Competition Information Page Link


There is a a good deal of information required to populate your on-line application, but most of this is the expected personal details. Most candidates will not have to update much of this – except for the number of days you have sat. Selection decisions are really focussed on how well you  and your referees can convey evidence of your experiences of the competencies. However, as in the recent DHCJ competition candidates will be short-listed on evidencing  just two competencies:  Exercising Judgement &  Assimilating and Clarifying Information. Plus your assesors’ assessments of you against all five competencies. In addition, all candidates will be asked to provide a Jurisdiction Statements of Suitability or two or three!

******   Jurisdiction Statement of Suitability  *****

” In addition, candidates will be required to provide a statement of suitability for each of the jurisdictions they apply for. This is an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate how their knowledge and experience makes them suitable for appointment to the jurisdiction/s applied for. Further guidance on composing a statement of suitability will be published shortly before applications open.”

JAC Guidance: 052_jurisdictional_information_civil_crime_family_1

 Competition Timetable:

Close for applications, including part 1 of the self-assessment and statement of suitability: 13 April 2017

Independent Assessments requested: 10 April 2017

Deadline for receipt of Independent Assessments: 2 May 2017

Outcome of shortlisting issued, including request for successful candidates to complete part 2 of the self-assessment (additional 3 competencies): 23 May 2017

Deadline for the submission of completed self-assessment (additional 3 competencies): 7 June 2017

Selection days: 21 June to 30 June 2017

Additional interviews (if required following application of the equal merit provision):  Week commencing 25 September 2017.  Further information regarding the equal merit provision can be found below.

Outcome of selection days issued: End October 2017

Self Assessments

“Self assessments were often poorly written and presented.  Despite the guidance provided, many of the self assessments were limited in their content. They were often too brief, contained a preponderance of assertion and gave little evidence under the qualities to demonstrate their ability to take on the role.

They were also lacking in specific examples against the qualities and abilities. This was particularly the case under Intellectual Capacity.  Although some candidates provided examples these were often just a statement with no detail of what or how they did in the situation. Citing the name of a case in which the candidate has appeared is not a good example. It left the Panel uncertain as to the candidate’s role in the case and how strong an example it really was.

Good candidates provided a well structured, well presented self assessment, gave detailed examples to support each quality and did not rely on assertions.”  –  JAC Competition Sift Report

Candidates who are short-listed for selection days will be required to provide evidence of the other three competencies.

Form How to Blog      Tips short Video

Your Assessors

You only now need two. The senior judge from the centre where you sit most often, and one other, but choose wisely!

“There were a number of very strong references that contained some specific evidence under all the qualities; however, there were also many references where the referee provided only general information about the candidates. The references are there to support the evidence provided by the candidate but in a number of cases they did little to add any weight to the self assessment and overall information. It would be helpful if the referees could provide brief, meaningful examples for each quality and ability.

 It would be valuable if candidates could consider the referees they nominate to provide references.  Some referees had little information to provide for the candidate, particularly where their knowledge of the candidate was from a long time ago. A good referee is one who knows the candidate and their work well, particularly in a professional capacity, and is able to give specific examples to demonstrate the qualities and abilities.  The Panels are looking for evidence from individuals who are able to provide an objective assessment of a candidate’s abilities.  There is clear guidance for referees provided by the JAC and it is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure their referees are aware of this and are prepared to follow it.”

 –  JAC Competition Sift Report

I often discuss referee selection with candidates – so if you have any queries or concerns please just pick up the phone.

The Selection Day

A panel of three: probably a High Court Judge, senior JAC staff and a lay member. The first part of the interview will be situational questioning, by the HCJ, based on scenarios you will have been given a short time to consider. Expect probing questions, that can sometimes be pretty robust – testing both your judgement and how you interpret the law to support your decision making. This is then followed by an interview looking for further evidence of how you are able to demonstrate the competencies. They can ask more about the examples on your form, generic questions seeking other evidence or a combination of both.

Interview Blog      Tips  short Video


I’m frequently asked how I work with candidates; I work based on the needs of each individual candidates: application forms and interviews.

In terms of fees, I aim to keep my advice short and sweet; I charge £200 an hour but under my Pay Fair you pay what you want.

It takes me about 15-20 mins to  prepare feedback on a draft application form. Then we have a session discussing that. Time varies with candidates from 45 mins all in, to several sessions and possibly 4 hours. But on average 2-2.5 hours – all depends on you.

For selection days, I typically have two sessions with my candidates and I always encourage them to work with family, colleagues and friends – anyone who you trust will give you some straight advice and feedback.

If you have any questions or would like to have a confidential conversation about any aspects of this Circuit Judge Competition please either call me on 0796 999 7335 or e-mail [email protected]

“I got the job!!!!! I’m waiting to hear where I will be sitting and for the official announcement obviously. Thank you so much. I couldn’t have done it without you.”  Circuit JudgeCandidate 2016