Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.

Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Friday, 23 August 2013


Damian Green is proposing that jurors should be able to serve up to the age of 75 and there is discussion within the Magistrates` Association whether or not there is a sign at the Justice Ministry of increasing the compulsory retirement age for magistrates from the current age of 70 to that self same 75.  Currently 44% of J.P.s are aged under 60 and only 16% are under 50 years of age.  The reasons for this profile are very simple; affordability.  Disregarding the current economic situation the sacrifices required in time and money to do the job are just too onerous for those in the younger age groups whose family and career requirements must be a priority.  There are still some colleagues who think we should be paid but that is a certain non starter and as far as age is concerned the Minister can rattle on all he wants about the magistracy reflecting the diversity of a local population but he will find it all but impossible to persuade younger aspirants to apply especially with increasing numbers of employers refusing to grant additional days off  even for current magistrates to be available for sittings and training.

With the number of Justices of the Peace set to decline significantly owing to current and future (as yet unspecified) government plans natural wastage of those 13,000 over 60s will ensure that the remaining rump will perform the limited duties   that will be required of them.  By their being relatively new to the Bench they will have no knowledge  of the days now but a memory when magistrates really did have a major part in the running of the magistrates` courts.  They will calmly and dutifully perform whatever tasks are allotted to them by Her Majesty`s Courts and Tribunal Service however distant from the court environment these tasks are performed and however much they are treated by said HMCTS merely as unpaid employees to be told how, why, when or where.


  1. Before the coming into force of the Justices of the Peace Act 1968, magistrates retired at the age of 75. The Act reduced this to 70 70. It took three or four years to implement this fully.

  2. How interesting; there are plenty of magistrates who can easily sit after age 70, and those who aren't suitable would be weeded out by the appraisal process.
    It seems illogical to allow jurors to go on to 75, but not JPs, since the roles are not dissimilar, yet jurors have no training or experience.
    However, since when did logic form part of the MoJ brief.

  3. Perhaps "would be weeded out" should read "should be weeded out". In my 20 years experience including as Bench chairman and appraiser, I have long felt that the appraisal system was not sufficiently robust but in latter years, as our role declined, I felt that it was probably sufficient for our hugely diminished role and restricted discretion.