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Eligibility criteria relaxed for family magistrates

Requirement to sit in crime for two years to be removed

The National Bench Chairmen's Forum has issued a letter concerning direct recruitment of family magistrates and the relaxation of requirements they have to satisfy. The letter has the full support of both the Senior Presiding Judge and the President of the Family Division.

The letter notes that changes have already been made so that magistrates appointed on or before 1 April 2017 no longer need to sit in crime for two years before they can apply for authorisation to sit as a family judge. Whilst this has widened the pool from which existing magistrates can be recruited to family, there remains a shortfall. Accordingly it has been agreed to remove the requirement that magistrates first sit in both crime and family for two years before they can choose to sit solely in family.

As a consequence of the latest change, magistrates who sit in family and crime can now apply to their Bench and Panel Chairmen to sit solely in family irrespective of their length of service in family and, for the first time, those interested in becoming magistrates can apply to Advisory Committees to sit directly in the Family Court.

To address an immediate need, direct recruitment will commence initially in Birmingham, Greater Manchester and London. This will be used to learn more about the process for directly recruiting to family, and further improvements may be made before making it available more widely in 2018.

For more details, click here.