Leeds JAC Meeting

Leeds Legal Executive Lawyers Find Out What It Takes To Be A Judge

21 July 2008 pr028.08

Leeds Legal Executive Lawyers took the opportunity to find out exactly what it takes to become a judge when they met the Chairman of the body that appoints judges, Baroness Prashar of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

Members of the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX), all lawyers based in the Leeds area, were able to quiz the Baroness and JAC Commissioners, Ed Nally and Charles Newman during a flying visit they made to Leeds on 17 July.

During the meeting Baroness Prashar told the ILEX members that the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) was independent and selected candidates for judicial office on merit, through fair and open competition, from the very best eligible candidates drawn from the widest range of candidates. She went on to outline the requirements that were needed to become a judge.

Recent moves by the government to open up the selection process for judges within the legal profession culminated in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 which was passed at the end of last year. The Act gives a wider range of people, including Legal Executives, the opportunity for to apply for judicial posts which in the past have been denied to them, including those of District Judge and Tribunal Chairman.

“The JAC is looking to expand the range of applications to include ILEX members and relevant local knowledge was just as important as the other factors we have to take into account” said the Baroness . “Applying to be a judge was really just like applying for any other job. The old myth that unless you are male, white, upper class and Oxbridge educated you should not even think about trying to become a judge was no longer applicable in this day and age.”

“This is new territory for us,” said ILEX President Mark Bishop, “And this has been a great opportunity for ILEX Leeds based members to meet the JAC Chairman, learn about the selection process and talk informally face-to-face about what the Commission is looking for in a judicial candidate.

“ILEX has fought long and hard for the right for members to be considered on merit for judicial appointments. I now believe it is only a matter of time before ILEX is able to announce its first judge and who knows it could be from the Leeds area.”


Notes to editors:

Judicial Appointments Commission

Baroness Usha Prashar CBE
Usha Prashar has been Chairman of the JAC since October 2005. She was born in Kenya in 1948 and was educated at Wakefield Girls’ High School, and the Universities of Leeds and Glasgow. She was awarded a CBE in 1994 and since 1999 has sat in the House of Lords as a crossbencher.
The Baroness has a distinguished record of public service, having been the First Civil Service Commissioner between 2000 and 2005. Before taking on that post she was executive chairman of the Parole Board for England and Wales for three years. Formerly she was director of the National Council

for Voluntary Organisations and director of the Runnymede Trust, and served as a member of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice. She was also a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Legal Education and Conduct.

Mr Edward Nally
Edward Nally has been a commissioner since January 2006. He was president of the Law Society between 2004 and 2005 and is a partner in Fieldings Porter Solicitors of Bolton. He is Governor of the College of Law and Chair of Governors at Pendleton Sixth Form College, Salford.

District Judge Charles William Frank Newman
Charles Newman has been a commissioner since January 2006. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1972 and appointed registrar of the County Court in 1987. He has served as chair of the District Judges IT Working Group. He is currently a member of the Judicial Advisory Group for IT. Until January 2006 he was a member of the Deputy District Judge Selection Panel and chair of the Quality Review Group for that competition.