Discuss the extent to which the training of judges adequately prepares them for the work they undertake.

Training for judges is short and may be too short. The Judicial College is in favour of initial training, continuous professional development and training geared to change and development.

Grade: A-C | £0.00.

 

In 1979 the Judicial Studies Board was set up and took on the responsibility for the training of judges. Many judges at the time did not believe they needed to receive training at all and the Judicial Studies Board was viewed with resentment by some judges. It was the first time that judges from the House of Lords down had to agree to judicial training. Judges now accept the need for training and are asking for more. According to the Rt Hon: Lady Justice Hallett, Chairman of the Judicial College, the Judicial College Prospectus 2014-15 'contains the widest and most ambitious programme of education for courts’ judges offered by the College.'

 

Since April 2011 training of all 36,000 judicial office holders in England and Wales and tribunals around the UK has become the responsibility of the Judicial College. The nature and scope of the training judges receive is the subject of discussion and there are some characteristics which are worthy of particular note. The Judicial College believes that it is essential that the training of not only judges but also tribunals members and magistrates remains under judicial control and guidance.

 

One feature is that the training is very short and in times of austerity when budgets are being cut, savings are having to be made. One way this is being dealt with is by reducing the length of courts’ residential seminars and also providing online training.

 

All Judges receive a full induction course before starting their careers on the Bench and continue to receive training throughout their judicial careers.

 

In reality the period of training is probably too short to properly prepare them for their work as judges and probably most will have to rely heavily upon their qualifying experience as a working lawyer in the courts. Judges in the Higher Courts with extensive experience will probably make the adjustment to the new role more easily than those with less court experience. It is important for a Judge to adjust from acting as an advocate in court, he has to learn to be balanced and not take sides. Their induction course will be important to lay the foundations of good practice.

 

Questions do arise as to whether it is fair to place so much reliance upon their prior experience and whether judges have sufficient training or support when it comes to keeping abreast with new law. With the Judicial College encouraging continuing education and providing specialist modules for judges the training is becoming more accessible. This continuing education is in place to provide training to cover new developments and to discuss sentencing provisions for example.

 

Judges in the Court of Appeal are allocated days for legal research but these are restricted whereas in other legal systems judges are assisted by researchers conducting legal research on behalf of the court. When television cameras were allowed into the Court of Appeal for the first time in October 2013 senior judges were offered training before appearing on camera.

 

In the case of Recorders who sit in the Crown Court and who are likely to be relatively new to the judiciary, they will be undertaking criminal work and this is likely to be a steep learning curve for those who do not have the experience of working in the criminal courts. The short training period means that they will be hearing criminal cases soon after their appointment and training and it must seem to them a little like being thrown in at the deep end. Their induction will provide them with the basic principles and give them the confidence they will need in court. They will learn the court procedures, how to sum up and deal with applications to adjourn proceedings and they will also learn about sentencing.

 

 

In the past there have been problems with unhelpful remarks and comments being made by some judges. These comments have given offence to one or both of the parties. In recent years the Judicial Studies Board and, more recently, the Judicial College has introduced human awareness training covering a whole range of issues from gender awareness to disability issues. It is no longer adequate to rely upon, or assume that, because a judge was once an experienced advocate, they possess the necessary people skills to deal effectively with victims and their families, witnesses, jurors and unrepresented parties.

 

From my own observations following a visit to a local Crown Court, the judge seemed to go out of his way to allow adequate time for an individual who was not represented. In this particular case the judge wanted to ensure that he had explored all options available to him as he had not received the benefit of arguments from the defendant's counsel.

 

 

Training is accepted in many other walks of life and it is probably fair to say that in recent years training is no longer seen as a threat but is much more accepted and welcomed. It is probably reasonable to say that for some judges at the bottom of the judicial ladder the training is adequate, particularly for those who have experience of criminal courts. The complexities of the judges' role all point to the need for training. Their duty in supervising the trial process, keeping order, adhering to the rules, ruling on the law and the admissibility of evidence would alone justify a need for adequate training. In addition to this they must not stray away from effective summaries about the law for the benefit of the jury and need to be aware of the growing number of guidelines about sentencing, more reasons for continual training and support. It is just a matter of how much and what we can afford.

 

In the meantime the emphasis is on the importance of training and training is categorised as the provision of initial training, continuous professional development and training geared to change and development. This suggests the continuing acceptance and place for training for the judiciary and not just for new judges.

 

Do judges still make inappropriate remarks? Yes they do and you do not need to look any further than the High Court judge reported to have been reprimanded for making racially offensive jokes about an Arab sheik in a divorce case. One of the throw away remarks included a reference to the effect that the sheik could leave 'on his flying carpet'. This all goes to show that there is still room for improvement and that we should not be complacent. The individual judge in the case was replaced following complaints.

 

 

(Word count 1086)

Wigs off, jeans on at the Judicial College | Joshua Rozenberg

Educating Judges – the Judicial College. Interview with Lady Justice Hallett To hear the interview, go to http://fdslive.oup.com/www.oup.com/orc/resources/law/els/partington13_14/student/podcasts/Hallett.mp3

This essay discusses the extent to which the Judicial Studies Board and subsequently the Judicial College contributes to the training of judges and whether such training is adequate.  The essay deals with the training of new judges as well as existing judges who are promoted.

 

Reference is also made to human awareness training which is provided.

 

Judges still make inappropriate remarks from time to time and this is mentioned. 

 

The essay closes with a discussion about the acceptance of continuous professional training as well as initial training.

 

 

(Word count 1086)

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