FAQs

You can find a lot of information about magistrates and the MA on our site, but here are some of the questions commonly asked by people contacting us – both magistrates and members of the public

General queries

How can I find out if someone is a magistrate/is one of your members?

Unfortunately, we are not able to tell people if someone is a magistrate or a member.

How much does a magistrate earn?

Being a magistrate is a voluntary role, however you can claim expenses.

How much time does a magistrate have to commit to?

Magistrates must sit in court for at least 26 half days a year – or 13 full days. Find out more about magistrates and employment here.

Who is eligible to be a magistrate?

If you are aged 18-65 with no serious criminal record, you are likely to be eligible. There are some jobs where there may be a conflict of interest. You can find specific eligible criteria here and find out more about the role and if it’s right for you here.

How do I apply to become a magistrate?

You will need to apply to the advisory committee for your local magistrates’ court. Find out about the steps you should take to apply to the magistracy here.

What training do magistrates get?

Magistrates receive different types of training and support both before and during their time as justices of the peace. Find out more about the specific training magistrates receive here and the further training and support offered by the MA here.

How do I join the MA?

We offer a variety of memberships. Find out more about the benefits of joining the MA and select the membership that is right for you here.

Administrative queries

As a magistrate, where can I use the suffix JP?

The initials may be used on private and business letterheads in the same way as academic or professional qualifications. However, great care should be taken to ensure that use of the suffix is not perceived as an attempt to influence or gain advantage eg in an electoral context, in civil proceedings or with the police. It should also be noted that away from your court and judicial duties, the JP suffix carries no legal authority when completing references or countersigning documents. Use of the JP suffix in these instances is in your capacity as a private citizen and carries no additional weight.

Misuse of status can result in a disciplinary sanction. If in doubt, consult your justices’ clerk, deputy or bench chairman if you are intending to refer to your status as a magistrate.

I have a query about my expenses, who should I contact?

HMCTS is responsible for magistrates’ expenses. If you have any queries about your expenses, you should contact your local HMCTS lead.

I can foresee some difficulty in meeting the minimum requirement of sittings in the next few months, what should I do?

There are clear guidelines to be followed regarding any leave of absence. Any time up to twelve months can be dealt with by the bench chairman but over that time the advisory committee will have to be consulted. It is unusual for leave of absence to be granted for a period longer than 18 months.

I am moving a significant distance and will no longer be able to sit in my local court. What should I do?

There is no automatic right of appointment to another area when a magistrate moves. Advisory committees will consider the magistrate’s experience and training as well as the bench requirement in the new area. The application must be sent to the advisory committee and the bench chair must also be informed.

I have been asked to give a presentation about the magistracy – do you have any materials I could use?

Magistrates in the Community regularly give presentations to community groups. You should contact your local Magistrates in the Community co-ordinator or email mic@magistrates-association.org.uk

Retired and supplemental list queries

Can I use the JP suffix while on the supplemental list?

Yes, magistrates on the supplemental list can use the suffix JP, under the same guidance set out for sitting magistrates (see above).

Can retired or supplemental list magistrates sign passport applications?

Yes. Countersignatories must either work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession. Justice of the Peace is a recognised profession.

Can retired or supplemental list magistrates still sign off statutory declarations?

No, neither retired magistrates nor those on the supplemental list can sign off statutory declarations.

What can’t I do as a supplemental list magistrate?

Magistrate in the Supplemental List may not:

  • Sit in a magistrates’ court to adjudicate on cases
  • Sign summonses or warrants, including search warrants
  • Be a member of any committee or any other body as a magistrate
  • Take part in the election of chairman or deputy chairman of any bench
  • Attend any formal or business meeting of their former bench
  • Countersign an application for a shotgun or firearms licence
  • Sign off statutory declarations

 

Other queries

What is the Single Justice Procedure?

If you’ve been charged with a minor criminal offence, such as a traffic offence, you may be able to have your case decided by a magistrate without going to court. If this applies to you, you will receive a notice informing you who has brought the case against you, how to make a plea and if you can make a plea online. You can find out more about the procedure here.

If you have any queries that are not answered here, please contact us.