Judicial vacancies

Judicial vacancies

President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

Closing date for applications for both competitions is 12.00 noon on 10 March 2017

Following the announcement by the current President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, of his retirement next summer and the vacancies caused by the retirements of Lord Toulson and Lord Clarke, applications are sought for the appointment of a new President and two, possibly three, Justices. Ideally appointments would take effect on 2 October 2017.

The UK Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council hear a wide range of very complex and high profile legal appeals, which can have considerable impact across the United Kingdom and beyond. The withdrawal of the UK from the EU makes this a particularly important time at which to lead the Court as President or to be appointed a Justice. For all appointments the ad hoc selection commissions, appointed under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, are looking for people of outstanding intellectual and legal ability, with the ability to work efficiently and effectively as a judge in and out of Court, for example in the writing of excellent judgments, working well with colleagues and representing the UKSC and JCPC externally. Candidates will need to demonstrate social awareness and understanding of the impact of law on society, together with an appreciation of the developing nature of the constitution and law in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The President of the Supreme Court is the highest UK judicial office and has a national and international profile. For this appointment, the commission is seeking someone not only with truly exceptional legal understanding, stature and expertise but also with the communication and leadership skills to lead the Court through an increasingly complex judicial and constitutional environment. Essential to the role are outstanding leadership skills which inspire confidence within the Court, the judiciary of the UK and internationally, the legal profession, Parliament, Government and the wider public.

The statutory minimum qualification for all appointments advertised is to have held high judicial office for a period of at least two years, to have satisfied the judicial appointment eligibility condition on a 15-year basis or to have been a qualifying practitioner for at least 15 years. In making its recommendation the selection commissions will have regard to the requirements of the Act that a selection must be on merit, and that the commission must "ensure that between them the Judges will have knowledge of, and experience of practice in, the law of each part of the United Kingdom."

The selection commission invites applications from eligible candidates who fulfil one of the above statutory requirements and can evidence their suitability. Applications are sought from a wide range of candidates and particularly those who will increase the diversity of the Court. A single application form is available for completion for either or both of the roles of President and Justice.

Please contact Grainne Hawkins (grainne.hawkins@supremecourt.uk tel: 020 7960 1906) for an application form.

The closing date for applications for both competitions is 12.00 noon on 10 March 2017.


Key documents

Please contact Grainne Hawkins (grainne.hawkins@supremecourt.uk tel: 020 7960 1906) for an application form.

Further information which may be of interest to applicants

The independent selection process

Debate days at The UK Supreme Court

Much of the selection process is set out in statute, namely the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (as amended by the Crime and Courts Act 2013).

In short, the steps undertaken by the independent selection commissions (once convened by the Lord Chancellor) are:

  • Consultation with the Lord Chancellor on the positions to be advertised and the process of selection
  • Vacancies are advertised, with candidates invited to submit a personal statement, examples of work and details of referees. The basic eligibility criteria are set by Parliament.
  • The statute also requires that the Lord Chancellor, the First Minister in Scotland, the First Minister in Wales, the Judicial Appointments Commission in Northern Ireland and senior judges across the UK are consulted as part of the selection process.
  • Candidates are shortlisted and interviewed by the panels. Under changes introduced by the Crime and Courts Act 2013, where two candidates are deemed to be of equal merit, the commission can give preference to one candidate over the other for the purpose of increasing diversity within the Court.
  • After interviews, a report is sent to the Lord Chancellor for her consideration. There is another round of consultation with the senior politicians and judges. The Lord Chancellor then accepts the recommendation(s), or can reject it, or ask the commission to reconsider.
  • When the Lord Chancellor accepts a recommendation, the name is notified to the Prime Minister and HM The Queen. Candidates are informed of the outcome, and the Prime Minister's Office then makes an announcement.

A more detailed description of the process is also available on our Appointments of Justices section.