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Frequently asked questions

Answers to common questions about the MA and the magistracy.

About magistrates

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

Being a magistrate is an unpaid voluntary role. However, magistrates can claim expenses.

Magistrates must sit in court for at least 26 half days a year or 13 full days.

If you are aged 18 to 74 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.

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.

Magistrates receive different types of specific training before and during their time sitting—the Judicial College holds overall responsibility for this.

The MA offers further training for magistrates through MA learn—our online learning platform for members—as well as events and publications to develop magistrates’ skills and knowledge.

About the MA

We offer a variety of memberships. Visit the join us page to find the membership that suits you and apply online.

Administrative queries

The initials JP may be used on private and business letterheads in the same way as academic or professional qualifications.

Great care should be taken to ensure that use of the suffix is not perceived as an attempt to influence or gain advantage, for example 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 chair if you are intending to refer to your status as a magistrate.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is responsible for magistrates’ expenses. If you have any queries about your expenses, you should contact your local HMCTS lead.

There are clear guidelines to be followed regarding any leave of absence. Any time up to 12 months can be dealt with by the bench chair. For absence of more than 12 months, 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.

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.

Magistrates in the Community, the MA’s community engagement initiative, regularly gives presentations to community groups. You should contact your local Magistrates in the Community coordinator or email

Retired and supplemental list queries

Yes. Magistrates on the supplemental list can use the suffix JP, under the same guidance set out for sitting magistrates.

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

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

Magistrate on 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

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. This is called the single justice procedure.

If this applies to you, you’ll receive a notice informing you who has brought the case against you, how to make a plea, and whether you can make a plea online.

Have a different question?

If you have any queries that are not answered here, please get in touch.