Thousands of judges are facing radical changes to their pay and working conditions, including expenses curbs and a new obligation to give up to a year’s notice when they want to quit.
The MoJ says the measures will boost diversity and career prospects in the judiciary, while better matching supply and demand through more flexible deployment.
Modernising Judicial Terms and Conditions, which accompanies today’s consultation on transforming the justice system, proposes removing the right of fee-paid (part-time) judges, many of whom are solicitors, to claim travel expenses for travelling to their primary courts.
‘Most people who work in the public sector are not paid to go to their normal place of work,’ notes the consultation. Salaried judges do not benefit from this arrangement.
Fee-paid judges would also lose the right to a guaranteed number of sitting days for which they would be paid regardless of whether they sat for them all. This would be replaced with an ‘expectation’ of a certain number of days, because ‘paying fee-paid judges for days on which they do not sit is not a good use of public money’, it adds.
Another proposal would introduce non-renewable fixed terms for fee-paid judges. The current terms of four or five years are normally renewed automatically.
On the expiry of the fixed-term, fee-paid judges who wished to stay in the judiciary would have to seek a salaried post or apply for another similar position elsewhere.
The consultation says this change would lead to ‘swifter turnover, a more transparent route for development and more regular recruitment’.
The consultation also proposes a mandatory notice period for all judges - salaried and fee-paid - giving options of three, six and 12 months. At present most judicial office-holders do not have to give notice of their intention to retire or resign, though some recent appointees are required to give six months’ notice.
So-called ‘leadership’ judges who take on mentoring and management responsibilities could also be hit in the pocket.
They are paid extra for these duties, but the consultation proposes that the in future the uplift should apply only for the duration of the leadership post. Some existing leadership judges keep the extra money even if those duties are discontinued.
Leadership judges would also be recruited for fixed terms.