Wannabe Lord Chief Justices must pen 2,000 word essay to land top judge gig

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By Alex Aldridge on

In a departure from the traditional “tap on the shoulder” method of recruitment, applicants for the highest judicial post in the land are being asked to submit a 2,000-word essay in order to demonstrate their intellectual and analytical abilities…


Alongside the essay – the subject of which is still undecided – wannabe Lord Chief Justices must complete an 18-page application form and attend an interview, reports Times Law (£). Under this new rigorous approach, which has just been passed in parliament following changes to the judicial appointments process, a panel led by independent Judicial Appointments Panel chief Christopher Stevens will then decide who gets the job.

In their application, the hopefuls are required to provide reams of information about themselves, including explanations of why two of their recent judgments are interesting or important for the development of the law.

They must also demonstrate their “understanding and vision” of European, international and devolution developments within the UK, and explain how these may have an impact on the administration of justice.

In addition, there’s a lengthy “self-assessment” section where candidates must give examples of their ability to sit in “important, high-profile and legally complex cases”, “write high-quality judgments” and “hear significant criminal and civil appeals”.

The process – which makes training contract and pupillage applications seem like a walk in the park – features 19 selection criteria, under the headings of highest judicial competence, outstanding leadership skills, contextual awareness of the administration of justice and personal qualities.

Times Law says three candidates “are believed to have come forward” to replace incumbent Lord Judge, who’ll step down at the end of September. They are Lord Justice Leveson, Court of Appeal judge Lady Justice Hallett, and Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division in the High Court.

Interviews for the £239,845 post will be held in July. There is more information at the Judicial Appointments Commission website.