01/2017 - News release
Supreme Court selection process launched
16 February 2017
The process of appointing some of the most senior judges in the UK begins officially today, as applications are invited from candidates to fill vacancies for two Justices of the UK Supreme Court and the Presidency of the Court.
Adverts will appear from today (16 February) encouraging applications for vacancies created by the retirement of Lord Toulson last summer, and forthcoming retirements of Lord Clarke and Lord Neuberger, currently President of the Supreme Court.
The appointments process will be overseen by two independent selection commissions, convened by the Lord Chancellor under rules set by Parliament. The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and the Crime and Courts Act 2013 stipulate elements of the process to be followed, including the senior judges and politicians who need to be consulted at different stages of the process.
A dedicated section of the Supreme Court website has been set up (Judicial vacancies) - to go live 0700hrs Thursday) to promote the vacancies and explain the selection process, as well as to host the job description for prospective candidates.
The number of vacancies on the UK's highest court arising at the same time is unprecedented. In order to encourage the broadest range of applications and achieve the most efficient process for all involved, the vacancy created by Lord Toulson's retirement last year was not filled immediately and instead two candidates will be appointed from the forthcoming selection round. A third Justice will be appointed from the same pool of candidates, if Lord Neuberger's successor as President is appointed from within the Supreme Court.
Last November, Lord Neuberger announced steps to encourage a diverse range of eligible candidates to apply for the roles. These included the launch of 'insight sessions' to give potential candidates an opportunity to make a private visit to the Court and discuss the role with a serving Justice, and ensuring that the application material makes clear the availability of part-time working for new Justices.
The membership of the selection commission to recommend the names of the two new Justices, and that for the President, are slightly different. The former will be chaired by Lord Neuberger, and the latter will be chaired by Lord Kakkar.
Applications close on 10 March 2017. Once shortlisting, interviews and the required consultation exercises have taken place, it is expected that the names of those appointed will be announced by HM Government on behalf of HM The Queen by July, and the new post-holders will take up office at the beginning of the new legal year in October 2017.
Notes to editors
1. The process
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.
2. Membership of the Selection Commission
Membership of the respective commissions for the vacancies are set out in statute, i.e. they are stipulated by Parliament and not open to change without a change in legislation.
As set out in the statute, the commission to appoint the next President of the Supreme Court is chaired by one of the non-lawyer members, and in this instance will be chaired by Lord Kakkar. The rest of the panel are the most senior Justice of the Supreme Court who is not a candidate for the role, another senior UK judge (not a Supreme Court Justice), and representatives from the three independent judicial appointments boards across the UK.
The separate commission for the two vacancies for Justices of the Supreme Court is chaired by the President of the Supreme Court. Another senior UK judge (not a Supreme Court Justice), and representatives from each of the three independent judicial appointments boards across the UK, form the rest of the panel. By law, at least one of these must be a non-lawyer. In this instance, all three of the representatives are non-lawyers.
|For the vacancy of President of the Supreme Court:|
|Lord Kakkar (Chair)||Lord Kakkar was appointed Chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission for England and Wales in October 2016. He is Professor of Surgery at University College London and Chairman of UCL Partners. In 2010 he became a Cross-Bench Peer and has held the role of Chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission since 2013.|
|Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd||Lord Thomas was appointed Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales in 2013. He was President of the Queen's Bench Division from October 2011, and before that served as Vice-President of the Queen's Bench Division. He was the Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales from 2003 to 2006. He was Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court in London from April 2002 to July 2003, when he was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal.|
|Lord Mance||Lord Mance became a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (a "Law Lord") in 2005, and was therefore one of the first Justices of the Supreme Court. He was from 1999 to 2005 a Lord Justice of Appeal and from 1993 to 1999 a Judge of the High Court, Queen's Bench Division, where he also sat in the Commercial Court.|
|Professor Nichola Rooney||Professor Rooney is a Commissioner of the Judicial Appointments Commission for Northern Ireland and Director of the Queen's University Centre for Psychology. She is Policy Lead of the Division of Clinical Psychology Northern Ireland and Specialty Advisor to the Chief Medical Officer.|
|Ms Deirdre Fulton||Ms Fulton is a member of the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland and runs a consultancy business focusing on the aviation sector. Typical assignments include strategic planning, due diligence, market research, marketing and communications. Prior to setting up her own company in 2008, Ms Fulton worked at a senior level in the Scottish aviation industry.|
|For the two vacancies for Justices of the Supreme Court:|
|Lord Neuberger (Chair)||Lord Neuberger was appointed President of the Supreme Court in 2012, the second person to hold that office since 2009 when the Court replaced the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. He previously held the post of Master of the Rolls between 2009 and 2012, before that served as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (a "Law Lord") from 2007.|
|Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd||Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales|
|Lord Kakkar||Chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission for England and Wales|
|Professor Nichola Rooney||Judicial Appointments Commission for Northern Ireland|
|Ms Deirdre Fulton||Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland|
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