The Judicial Appointments Commission is looking for a new chair for the Plants Varieties and Seeds Tribunal. No, Obiter hadn’t heard of this particular tribunal either. With good reason, it turns out – it’s been dormant since 1984.

According to, the tribunal makes legally binding decisions about national listing of new varieties of plants, UK plant variety rights and certain forestry matters. It hasn’t needed to sit since 1984 because regulations on National Listing and UK Plant Variety Rights offer other ways to resolve problems.

Obiter also learned that new varieties of agricultural and vegetable species must be on a National List before you can sell seed. And UK Plant Variety Rights are a type of intellectual property protection specifically for new varieties of plant.

The JAC says the successful candidate should have no expectation of minimum or maximum days per year. Intriguingly, there are two outstanding appeals to be heard.

Under paragraph 2(2) of schedule 3 of the Plant Varieties Act 1997, applicants are eligible for the job if they have a seven-year ‘general qualification’ (which relates to right of audience). 

The JAC says the successful chair 'must have the energy, passion and intellect to reinvigorate the tribunal to a proficient standing expected of an active tribunal'. With a salary of £521.80 per day, that shouldn't be too difficult.