JAC Recorder Competition 2020

**** 30 June 2020****

Candidates were informed this morning, congratulations to those who were successful and commiserations to those who didn’t make it this time! I think it is a retrograde and very poor decision by the JAC not to offer individual feedback to candidates about their selection days.

The 2020 competition is due to launch on 2 September with 70 Vacancies – details still tbc. Don’t be put off by the JAC, I’ve worked with many people over the years who suffered numerous rejections yet are now recognised as some of our best judges! BELIEVE! I’ll aim to update this blog as details emerge and the 2020 competition progresses.

**** June 2020****

The JAC have slipped out an increase in the number of vacancies > 121 up from the initial 100. Despite Cov-19 it looks like the JAC are on track and will still be able to inform candidates by the end of the month (whenever that means). As soon as I hear anything, I’ll post on Twitter and LinkedIn. #SqueakyBumTime

**** January 2020****

Many candidates were surprised to have passed the narrative test. I’m busy working with clients preparing for their selection days in Leeds and London.

*****17 July 2019*****

Competition information now published: details and link to competency framework here

Key Dates:

Deadline for applications 1pm on Tuesday 06 August 2019

Online qualifying test: 17 September 2019

Online Scenario test: 8 October 2019

Selection days: 3 one week blocks between 20 January and 28 February 2020

Outcome of selection process expected by: end June 2020

Why they are running this in the summer holidays is beyond me! I’ll be on holiday from 01/08 but hope some of the information and guidance below may help. I’ve also included some posts that show how last year’s competition twisted and turned.

*****19 June 2019*****

Candidates learned their outcomes of the 2018 competition yesterday.  A number of successful clients and some disappointed,  I received many appreciative messages including:

” I am delighted to inform you that I have been put forward for appointment as a recorder with immediate effect.  Since enlisting your services I have been successful in 2 out of 2 JAC competitions and it is only because of your excellent preparation and guidance.  I knew I had a lot to do after that first practice interview session but you gave me the tools and the confidence to do it.”

“Just to let you know I didn’t get it but I’m very grateful for all your help.  I’ve requested feedback and will apply again for the 2019 competition.”

The 2019 Recorder competition was due to launch on 16 July 2019  but now 23/07! There are up to a 100 vacancies.  It will follow the same format as the 2018 competition and I’ll update my guidance below when the competition details are published.

They slipped this out:

“The JAC has received an amended vacancy request during the course of this selection exercise. There are now up to 160 vacancies (decreased from up to 250) including 2 Welsh speaking posts. This exercise remains non-jurisdictional and the JAC will recommend the most meritorious candidates for appointment.”

****** 27 November 2018 ******

Just ahead of the selection days I understand that the number of posts has jumped to 250 – very good news for those still involved.

***** 1 November 2018 *****

Candidates who have made it this far will learn about their selection day dates by 8 November – NB check your spam and junk folders.  Numbers who are through have not yet been confirmed my guess is it will be around 350 candidates for the 150 vacancies.

***** 21 August 2018 *****

Qualifying tests results due out tomorrow Wednesday 22 August  – check your e-mails and spam – fingers crossed!


**** Update 15 August 2018 ****

No technical problems reported with with stages 1 & 2 and results expected imminently.  Stage 3 is the hardest hurdle – this feedback taken from the recent DDJ Civil test may assist:

“The panel agreed that they would overlook minor errors made by candidates where the meaning was obvious, for example spelling mistakes and typographical errors. Stronger candidates scored a range of marks across both questions and underpinned their answers with a good grasp of the relevant civil procedure rules. They adopted a logical approach to their decision making. The strongest answers were clear and specific and identified the relevant factors.

Weaker answers failed to reach a conclusion or came to the wrong conclusion on the evidence provided. They often did not demonstrate a clear process to their decision making and may not have considered all the relevant factors when reaching their conclusions. The strongest answers were clear and specific and identified the key factors.

Generally, candidates with the highest marks had read and absorbed the scenario making specific references to the correct issues and directions to evidence their understanding of the matters that needed addressing. They referenced the relevant legislation making effective use of their time and word allocation.

Weaker candidates failed to manage their time effectively and therefore were not able to deal with the second question in enough detail. Some candidates failed to structure or communicate their answers clearly making their intent ambiguous. They failed to make a decision or set out their reasoning in sufficient detail…”

Full DDJ Civil Qualifying Test Report: here


This year’s Recorder competition launches on Tuesday 23 July and there are currently 150 vacancies. Previous competitions were beset by problems, frustrations and delays. You can catch the gist of what happened to the 2,500+ candidates who applied here. As a result the JAC have simplified their process in line with other large fee paid competitions that they have been running recently.

To succeed and take your seat on the bench you will need to prepare professionally so that you can have an edge over your competition. This undated blog is written to help you understand what is required and what you need to do to be prepared, fully prepared.

As information is made available I’ll update this page as the competition progresses and you can follow my updates on Twitter 

The JAC have announced “There will be three stages to the selection process:

  • an online multiple choice test
  • an online scenario test
  • a selection day comprising an interview and role play”


But you will also need to submit evidence of how you demonstrate the competencies and nominate your two assessors/referees by 13:00 on 6 August 2019. 


Character: read the guidelines carefully and ensure you disclose all relevant matters, failure to do so will be seen as you lacking integrity. Do check your speeding points, no more than 6 points (or one 6 point offence) currently on your driving license!

Short-Listing – Qualifying Tests – The Recorder Lottery

This has evolved so much that I have written a separate blog – where I explain what to expect and how they have evolved recently.

On-Line Application Form – Evidence of Your Competencies : give specific examples of how you demonstrate the competencies. It will take much more time than you think to complete a strong application that will differentiate you from other candidates. If you have not already started, start drafting now! Some tips  to stand out from the crowd.

Selection Day

They aim to shortlist in the ratio of about 3 candidates per vacancy – so perhaps 450 candidates as they seem to have ditched the telephone assessments.

Role Play – you will be given some reading and then a panel of 3 (1 judicial and 2 lay) will observe you hearing some actors who will respond to your questions and directions. The role play starts as soon as you enter the room. The panel will be looking to assess you against the competencies and looking for evidence of how you perform and demonstrate them.

Interview – again before usually the same panel of 3, they will probe the competencies, but not necessarily all of them depending on the evidence in your application form and from your assessors . My advice for interview success.

How I work with candidates.  Any questions or advice please call 0796 999 7335 or e-mail [email protected]


 For information about the workshops I’ve been running please see here.


Some Generous Feedback From Grateful Candidiates:

I got it!!!”

” I just wanted to say thank you so much for the assistance that you provided me with. Whilst plainly I can neither confirm, nor deny, anything, I wanted you to be aware that I could not have gone through the process at all without your assistance. It was utterly invaluable.” 

“Whatever happens, working with you has been an unmitigated pleasure. Really, really grateful.”

“Many thanks for your invaluable help. It made a huge difference and I’m very grateful!”

“I did get an email and it said that they are not going to appoint me… but I remain very grateful for your help which was invaluable.”

“I have to say despite all the brilliant things I had heard about you, I had my doubts… But the difference you have made to my application over a couple of hours has been amazing.”

” @wowthankyoutim Only praise from me – great interview coaching & excellent music recommendations.”

“I’ve been recommended for appointment. I’m over the moon. Your help throughout the selection process was invaluable. Tim, I really cannot thank you enough for your help and support throughout the selection process.”

“Not this year I’m afraid but I do want to thank you for all your help and expertise. I certainly felt much better prepared than I would have been and I think the experience will stand me in good stead in future.”

“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.”