Chair of The Law Commission

Body: Law Commission
Appointing Department: Ministry of Justice
Sector: Judicial, Prison & Policing
Location: London
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: Judicial office holders who are appointed to the Commission continue to receive their judicial salary and retain the terms and conditions of their judicial office. No additional remuneration is provided with the post.
Time Requirements: Full-time (but with one week in four spent sitting judicially)


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

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Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    14/02/2018 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The Chairman of the Commission has a pivotal role both within the Commission and externally. The Chairman, working with the Chief Executive, plays a key part in identifying and responding to the strategic challenges that face the Commission. The Chairman is also the public face of the Commission and can expect to be asked by the media to give interviews. He or she represents the Commission in public and is very much involved in meeting Ministers across Departments in order to gain acceptance of Law Commission proposals. They will also play a substantial role discussing budget and other strategic issues with Ministers and senior officials in the Ministry of Justice. The Chairman will lead on relations with Parliament, particularly the Justice Committee, before whom the Chairman may be asked to give formal evidence from time to time.
As the title implies, the post-holder is responsible for chairing the formal meetings of the Commissioners. These occur every two weeks between September and July and are held in the Law Commission’s offices in London. In addition, there are visits to attend meetings in Wales (where it is important the Commission has a strong presence), Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland.
The Chairman can expect to be involved to some extent in all the projects being undertaken by the Commission, providing guidance to other Commissioners and the supporting legal teams. The Chairman will also take the lead in seeking to find a consensus where there are differing views about the best way to reform the law. A substantial part of the Chairman’s time will be spent, in common with his or her fellow Commissioners, in undertaking peer review of other Commissioners’ projects. This can involve analysing significant amounts of legal analysis and resulting policy proposals.
Reports published by the Commission are considered in detail, and signed, by all five Commissioners. This may sometimes include supporting the completion of work initiated by previous Commissioners. Because of the time that it can take to reach the implementation of some of the Commission’s recommendations, the Commissioners may find themselves involved in carrying forward the work of a project in which none previously participated. Commissioners (including the Chairman) therefore need excellent team-working skills and a commitment to acting corporately.
The Chairman will work closely with staff, but will not have line management responsibility. They do, however, play a key leadership role in the organisation and will be expected to work with the CEO to ensure that the relationship between Commissioners and staff is a positive one.
The Board of the Law Commission meets monthly and the Chairman will lead discussions, supported by the CEO. The Board is fortunate to have two non-Executive Board Members (Bronwen Maddox and Sir David Bell). The function of the Board is to oversee governance (budget, staffing, progress on Projects) as well as to determine the strategic challenges facing the organisation.
The Chairman is answerable to the Lord Chancellor for the performance of his or her functions. In addition to meetings with the Lord Chancellor and other Ministers, the Chairman will have an annual discussion with a senior official in the Ministry of Justice about the performance of the Law Commission.
The Chief Executive is responsible for supporting the formulation of strategy, leading at official level on relationships with stakeholders inside and outside Whitehall, as well as being responsible for ensuring the Commission has the capacity and capability to support the work of the Commissioners. The Chief Executive is accountable to the Permanent Secretary at the MoJ for the proper management of financial resources and leads on the staffing and management of the organisation. He or she works closely with the Commissioners to support them in their work. However, the Commissioners also have collective responsibility for ensuring that the Commission observes the highest standards of governance at all times.

Person Specification

The candidate must be a Court of Appeal Judge or a High Court Judge. If the successful applicant is a High Court Judge, he or she will be recommended, and will be put forward to the Court of Appeal panel to be promoted to the Court of Appeal at the earliest available opportunity. This is on the basis that the recommended candidate will have met the requirements for appointment to the Court of Appeal.

Part 1: Essential experience, knowledge and skills

Analysis and decision making
• Strong analytical and logical skills with the ability to offer constructive challenge and apply these skills to all areas of law reform.

Legal Skills
• A broad knowledge and a ready capability to cope with initially unfamiliar areas of law with a readiness to develop and reform the law where that is necessary.

Leadership Skills
• Ability to provide strategic direction, support and leadership to the other Commissioners and to facilitate collective decision taking by the Commissioners.
• Ability to handle the high pressure demands of the role.
• Ability and commitment to be proactive in seeking the implementation of outstanding Law Commission reports and securing new work.

Communication Skills
• Excellent written and oral communication skills with the ability to influence and persuade a wide range of external stakeholders.
• In particular, the interpersonal skills and political judgement to engage positively and to make an impact with Ministers across a range of Departments, with senior civil servants, members of the judiciary at all levels and with Parliamentarians of all parties.
• The ability to communicate clearly and succinctly to a variety of specialist and non-specialist audiences, with good listening skills to ensure two-way communication.
• The ability to represent the Law Commission before Parliamentary Committees.
• Competent in the use of IT/digital communication systems (laptops, tablets, smartphones etc)
• To be a positive role model to both Commissioners and staff, taking an active part in leading the organisation so as to ensure it is a supportive and collegiate environment.

Part 2: Characteristics

• Commitment to the importance of delivering effective law reform.
• An open-minded approach with a willingness to think flexibly and consult widely before reaching firm conclusions.
• Awareness of the diverse needs and backgrounds of those affected by the work of the Commission and of colleagues and staff of the Commission.
• A desire to learn about and engage with the Whitehall, Parliament, Ministers and a diverse range of stakeholders.
• A keen interest in leadership, both of people and the strategic direction of the organisation.

If you are a High Court Judge you will be expected to meet the selection criteria required for the Court of Appeal. Your ability to demonstrate these qualities will be considered by the Selection Panel.

Selection criteria for Court of Appeal 2017
Candidates for the CA 2018 exercise will be expected to demonstrate:

• Being an outstanding lawyer;
• The ability to deliver excellent ex tempore and written judgments expeditiously;
• An understanding of the diverse communities using the CA
• An understanding of the impact of law on society.
• The ability to shape and develop the law
• The ability to work efficiently and effectively in and out of court
• The ability to work well with colleagues, officials, court staff and users.

Some candidates will also be expected to show ability to take on leadership roles.

Additional Information

The Chairman is appointed by the Lord Chancellor. The post is a full-time secondment for a three year period with the possibility of subsequent re-appointment(s) for a further term at the discretion of Ministers. Any re-appointment is subject to satisfactory performance during the first term in post. The Chairman will have an annual discussion with a senior official in the MoJ of the performance of the Law Commission against its business objectives.
If re-appointed, the total time served in post will not exceed 10 years.
The convention has been that the Chairman will spend one week in four sitting judicially.
Judicial office holders who are appointed to the Commission continue to receive their judicial salary and retain the terms and conditions of their judicial office. No additional remuneration is provided with the post.
Public appointees are required to uphold the Board/Committee on Standards in Public Life’s Seven Principles of Public Life (see Appendix 1). You are also expected to adhere to the Code of Conduct for board members of public bodies.

How to Apply

If you wish to express interest in this role, you will need to send your CV and a supporting letter of no more than two sides, that evidences how you meet all the essential criteria as set out in section 4 above and cites two recent judgments, or significant pieces of written work. Please forward copies of your judgments in an electronic format.

Your examples must provide evidence of where your knowledge and experience matches the essential criteria required for the role. Your supporting letter should provide specific and detailed examples to demonstrate how you meet the essential criteria (including what you did to achieve a specific result).
Please ensure you include preferred daytime, evening and mobile telephone numbers, as well as a preferred e-mail address, which will be used with discretion.
Supporting Documents
Please also complete and return the following supporting documents:
• referee details – please give names/contact details of two referees (who will be contacted if you are shortlisted for interview); and
• the equal opportunities monitoring form – information is requested for monitoring purposes only and plays no part in the selection process. It will be kept confidentially and will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel.
Please send your CV, supporting letter, recent judgments, or significant pieces of written work and supporting documents to: We will acknowledge receipt.

Supporting documents (2017-june 17)
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