For over 600 years Magistrates (also known as Justices of the Peace) have been the cornerstone of the Criminal Justice system. They are volunteer members of the local community who come from a range of background and are appointed by the Lord Chancellor to sit and decide on cases in the criminal court for both adults and young people, as well as the Family Court.

Magistrates sit in benches of three, including two wingers and one who sits in the centre who has received special training to act as chair, known as the Presiding Justice. All three magistrates contribute equally to the decision-making but the Presiding Justice speaks on their behalf in court. Magistrates are assisted by a Legal Adviser (a qualified Solicitor or Barrister) who is there to advise on points of law, practice and procedure.

You can apply to be an adult Criminal Court magistrate or Family Court magistrate. You must be between 18 and 65 and be able to commit to a minimum of 13 days (26 half days) a year plus additional time for training.

Certain allowances are available to cover travelling expenses and subsistence.

More about the work of magistrates in adult criminal court, youth court and the family court can be found at:

What are the qualifications?

No formal or legal qualifications are required, but candidates will need to demonstrate the key qualities of good character; commitment and reliability; social awareness; understanding and communication; sound judgement and maturity and sound temperament.


Newly appointed magistrates will be expected to undertake four days of training before they can commence sitting. They will also be appointed a mentor to support and help with any queries and training needs. After that, there will be a further one or two days training every year.

How to apply

If you are interested in becoming a magistrate, you can find more information and apply at

Information about when we are recruiting for new magistrates can be found at:

If you want to talk to someone about the role, please e-mail:

Additional information about the work of magistrates can be found at: