Search Legislation

Courts Act 2003

Lay Justices

Section 10: Appointment of lay justices etc

46.This section makes similar provision to section 5(1) of the JPA 1997.  However, it lays a new duty on the Lord Chancellor to assign every lay justice to a local justice area (for purposes which, it is envisaged, will include local organisation, training, selection for specialist work, pastoral care and discipline). There is no equivalent to this new power of assignment.  The existence of the bench is implicit in current statute in the provisions governing elections for bench chairmen and deputy chairmen. Justices could be assigned to more than one area if appropriate, and the Lord Chancellor would be able to transfer justices to other areas.

47.This section clarifies that assignment to a local justice area is not to limit jurisdiction to that area.  However, the section also provides that if a justice is to act outside his normal place of sitting he is to do so in accordance with arrangements.  It is envisaged that these would be informal in nature.  In practice it would be unrealistic that a justice would sit in an unaccustomed area save by prior arrangement between courts and with his agreement.

48.As lay magistrates will no longer have a jurisdiction limited to a commission area, there will no longer be the statutory residence qualifications for assignment (section 6 of the JPA 1997).  It is envisaged, however, that Advisory Committees (who advise the Lord Chancellor on appointments of lay magistrates) will continue, under guidance from the Lord Chancellor, to recommend that lay magistrates be assigned to the local justice area in which they reside unless there is good reason to do otherwise (for example, should an applicant find it easier to sit where he or she works rather than where he or she lives).

49.A further effect of the repeal of the JPA 1997, and the provision made by  this section, is to transfer the current responsibilities of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in respect of the appointment of lay magistrates within the Duchy, to the Lord Chancellor.

50.The section also provides that the Lord Chancellor may make rules prescribing training courses that justices would complete before exercising such jurisdictions as may be specified. This provision is designed to clarify the Lord Chancellor’s power to prescribe training – this is felt to be advisable in the future context that MCCs will no longer have responsibility for training lay magistrates.

51.The section also brings the other jurisdictions of a lay magistrate into line with the family and youth jurisdictions, where there is an existing power for the Lord Chancellor to set out requirements for those jurisdictions in rules.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources