cambridgeshire magistrates

funded by the Cambridgeshire Branch of the Magistrates' Association

Magistrates - Who we are

Magistrates are chosen from members of the public who put themselves forward for consideration. The minimum age for appointment is 18. Magistrates retire at the age of 70 and the Lord Chancellor normally expects a period of five years service before retirement and will not generally appoint anyone who is aged over 65. Appointments are made by a Local Advisory Committee composed of both magistrates and lay people. As well as the paper application there are two interviews.

Magistrates do not need to have legal qualifications, but they must undergo training, both when they take up the role and throughout their service to keep up to date.

Magistrates are volunteers; they are unpaid, except for expenses for travelling and loss of earnings. They are required to sit a minimum of 13 days a year. Some go on to train to be court chairmen, or to serve in family or youth courts.

Efforts are made to recruit magistrates from across a broad range of backgrounds and ethnic origins so that they reflect the community from which they are drawn. People have many reasons for becoming magistrates, but putting something back into the community ranks highly amongst them. Almost all find the role a rewarding one.

In Cambridgeshire, there are magistrates whose occupations include train driver, dentist, farmer, trade union official, university professor, PA to a bishop, author, actor, teacher, owner or manager of a business, vicar, telecoms engineer, fireman and civil servant. Some magistrates are now retired but did a job from a similarly wide range beforehand.

To find out about becoming a magistrate click here.

In addition to lay magistrates, there are District Judges (Magistrates' Courts) working in magistrates courts. They are legally qualified, full-time and paid. There is one District Judge in Cambridgeshire.

Magistrates are also known as Justices of the Peace and can put 'JP' after their names. In court, it is usual to address magistrates as 'Your Worships' or just as 'Madam' or 'Sir'.