Lay magistrates

There are about 30,000 lay magistrates sitting as part-time judges in the magistrates’ courts.

There are about 30,000 lay magistrates sitting as part-time judges in the Magistrates’ Courts.  They are alternatively known as 'Justices of the Peace' and their origins go back to 1195 when Richard I appointed ‘keepers of the peace’.

Lay magistrates are important in that they are part of the tradition of allowing unqualified persons to represent the public as part of the legal process.  As magistrates and Magistrates Courts deal with around 95% of criminal matters they are generally acknowledged to be carrying out a vital role.

Lay magistrates do not need to have a qualification in law and the emphasis on their suitability centres around their qualities and abilities.  They are appointed on a voluntary basis but receive expenses for travelling but not for the work they do.

For further information visit The Magistrates' Association.

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