Most magistrates will join the supplemental list when they retire or leave the service before the
age of 70. There is sometimes confusion around what this entails and the powers it allows.
This guide explains the key features.
The Magistrates’ Association Guide to The Supplemental List
Returning to the active list
Being on the supplemental list (and under the age of 70) gives no automatic right to return to the active list. However, depending on the time away from the magistracy and any exceptional
circumstances, an individual could return to sitting without going through the full application and recruitment process. He/she will be interviewed informally by the advisory committee
to assess any training needs and other circumstances. Providing there are no exceptional factors the magistrate could return to sittings.The individual will not need to provide external referees but the magistrate’s previous bench advisory committee will need to provide a reference from the bench chairman.In the end, the decision whether to allow the magistrate back to the active list remains with the advisory committee to which he/she is applying. Obviously this may depend on vacancies on the particular bench.
On reaching the age of 70 a magistrate will normally have their name entered in the supplemental list automatically or be written to and invited to apply. They will usually be
informed in writing and sent details of the rights and duties of being a supplemental list magistrate.
Applying to join the supplemental
list before the age of 70
A magistrate may also apply to move from the active to the supplemental list at any time.This may be for a number of reasons, for instance when personal commitments mean they must take a sabbatical from sittings likely to last longer than leave of absence rules allow (about 18 months depending on circumstances). There is no minimum length of service to be entered in the supplemental list. As a general rule however, the magistrate will have been appraised as competent in the adult court; they should have met the minimum sittings requirement of 13 sitting-days within the past 12 months (except where good reasons apply); and they should not have been subject to disciplinary action for misconduct within the past five years.
All advisory committees have to consider such applications.In the unlikely event that a committee recommends to the Lord Chancellor not to enter a magistrate onto the supplemental list, they must write to the individual giving reasons for their
The purpose of the supplemental list is
to commend magistrates for good service upon resignation from the active list or retirement; and
to ease the process of return to the active list in situations where magistrates have had to leave the magistracy but wish to return at a later date
What you can do whilst on the supplemental list
If you are on the supplemental list you can still use the suffix JP under the same guidance for sitting magistrates. Essentially this is that the initials may be used on private and business letterheads etc in a similar way to academic or professional qualifications.You should always be alert, however, to how references to your status might reasonably be perceived by other people. Any attempt to misuse the status to gain personal benefit could be regarded
as misconduct. Magistrates can still witness documents or sign passports, but only
in the same capacity as other members of the public.
What you may not do whilst on the supplemental list
sit in a magistrates’ court to adjudicate;
sit in a Crown Court on appeals cases;
be a member of any committee or any other body as a
take part in the election of chair or deputy chair of a bench;
attend any formal or business meeting of their former bench;
sign any documents in the capacity of JP – ie using the JP suffix.
This will include:
– warrants, including search warrants
– shotgun licence applications (as a JP)
– being referee for a rifle licence application (as a JP).
Duties on the supplemental list
Magistrates on the supplemental list must inform the advisory committee secretary for their existing area if they change address. Similarly, advisory committees are encouraged to keep in touch with magistrates on the list.
Supplemental list magistrates are still subject to complaints procedures. (my bold underline) If a complaint is received about their conduct or behaviour, if appropriate, the advisory committee will investigate it in line with standard complaints rules.
When magistrates are considered to have erred they are subject to a complaints process outlined in perfect detail in a document twenty pages long with apparently every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed. If the matter is concluded that this process has indicated that the magistrate has indeed crossed the threshold of guilt s/he can apply to the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman who will investigate only the actual procedures undertaken. Thus all the labyrinthine detail of a trade union rule book is applied; with nobody in earshot all the trees in the legal forest which are felled fall in silence. Finally the verdict is subject to the decision of the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office whether or not a sanction is applied such sanction ranging from "advice" to removal from the bench. There are no published statistics or information on most of this whole process. Indeed names of members of these organisations are secret. To add grist to this metaphysical mill there are strict regulations on making public any comments from a local advisory committee. Suppose a complaint is made to said committee re the behaviour or action of a magistrate: Nobody can make unauthorised disclosure of said complaint under pain of being pursued in the courts under s.139 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.
The MOJ is currently undertaking a country wide advertising programme to persuade 4,000 citizens to become magistrates. This previously unheard of action is a direct result of the self same MOJ under Tory Party governance since 2010 in failing to recruit annually from that year the appropriate number of magistrates required as the predicted retirement of an ageing cohort was well known to all in authority. The judgement dealt out to the magistrate at the beginning of this post might or might not have been deserved. The lady in question might feel relieved at being able to continue in post or furious that her actions brought such ignominy. She might or might not have freely admitted her remorse. She might or might not have employed legal counsel to assist her. We will never know. This is just a microcosm of what I term "secret Britain"; a country which loudly proclaims to the world and all who listen that it is a beacon of freedom. Perhaps in some departments it is but in so many it certainly is not. The line by line, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, clause by clause to investigate the perceived wrong doing of a magistrate makes a trade union`s rule book for a member`s expulsion seem like a simple binary process.