Chairman, Law Commission of England and Wales PAT 160059

Body: Law Commission of England and Wales
Appointing Department: Ministry of Justice
Sector: Regulation
Location: Meetings usually held in Central London, but virtual attendance is often possible.
Skills required: Regulation
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: No additional remuneration is provided with the post.
Time Requirements: Full Time

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched

    11/07/2022

  • Closed for Applications

    31/08/2022 at 11:00

  • Panel Sift

    TBC

  • Final Interview Date

    TBC

  • Announcement

    TBC

 

Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The Chair of the Law Commission has a pivotal role both within the Commission and externally.  The Chair, working with the Chief Executive, plays a key part in identifying and responding to the strategic challenges that face the Commission. The Chair 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.

The Chair will also play a role in discussing budget and other strategic issues with Ministers and senior officials in the Ministry of Justice. The Chair will lead on relations with Parliament, particularly the Justice Committee, before whom the Chair may be asked to give formal evidence from time to time.

The Chair also leads, in conjunction with the relevant Commissioners, in relations concerning Welsh law.  The Commission considers it to be of great importance that it always has projects in relation to devolved Welsh law, ongoing at any one time.  It cannot perform its role as the Law Commission for Wales if this is not the case.  The Commission has a seat on the Executive Committee of the recently formed Welsh Law Council, Chaired by Lord Lloyd Jones. The Chair of the Law Commission sits as the representative of the Commission

The Chair can expect to be involved to some extent in all the projects being undertaken by the Commission, providing guidance to other Commissioners and supporting legal teams.  The Chair will also lead in seeking to find a consensus where there are differing views about the best way to reform the law.  The Chair presides over the peer review process, whereby the Commissioners collectively agree on lines of law reform.  The process is rigorous and challenging but invariably leads to a material improvement in the finished product.

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 Chair) therefore need excellent team-working skills and a commitment to acting corporately.

The Chair will work closely with staff, but will not have line management responsibility. The Chair plays a key leadership role and will be expected to work with the CEO to ensure that the relationship between Commissioners and staff is a positive one.

The Commission meet regularly; usually at least once a week to discuss the issues of the day. The Board of the Law Commission meets monthly and the Chair leads discussions, supported by the CEO.

The Chair 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 Chair has an annual discussion with a senior official in the Ministry of Justice about the performance of the Law Commission.

In a letter to all Judges sent in 2021, which explained that a competition for the appointment of a new Chair, would in due course commence, the present Chair described the role in the following terms:

The role of the Chair has evolved in recent years.  In my experience, the role has been about 50/50 “law” and strategy.

As for the legal side of the role, every document that emanates from the Law Commission is signed off by the Chair and each of the other four Commissioners.  Collective responsibility is central to our modus operandi.  The job involves working with Commissioners and their teams on individual projects to identify problems and find solutions, acting as devil’s advocate, working with Parliamentary Counsel on drafting issues or issues relating to Parliamentary procedure, and chairing Commissioners Peer Review meetings. The Chair contributes to the full range of legal issues that arise.  These issues are by their nature novel and difficult. Pragmatism, compromise and the ability to come up with practical solutions are essential aspects of this side of the role.

The strategic part of the job involves acting as the outward face of the Commission. This involves:  advocating for the independent Commission and its work; attending meetings with Ministers, parliamentarians and senior civil servants; giving evidence to Parliamentary committees or committees of the Senedd in Wales; leading or assisting in negotiations over possible new reform projects; developing working relationships across the City, with Universities and with broader society; leading and developing relations between the Commission and the judiciary; giving lectures about the work of the Commission;  leading the dialogue with Law Commissions and Governments abroad; dealing with the press and media; and, dealing with politically sensitive issues as and when they arise. The Chair is also a leader within the Commission, chairing meetings of Commissioners and the Board, working closely with the CEO and taking a close interest in staff welfare, corporate governance, diversity and future ways of working.”

Person Specification

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 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.
  • 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.

 

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.

 

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.
  • Evidence of valuing and promoting diversity

 

If you are a High Court Judge you will need to meet the qualities and abilities required for the Court of Appeal. Your ability to demonstrate these qualities may be taken into account by the Selection Panel:

 

If you are a High Court Judge you will need to meet the qualities and abilities required for the Court of Appeal. Your ability to demonstrate these qualities may be taken into account by the Selection Panel.

 

  • Being an outstanding lawyer.
  • The ability to deliver excellent ex tempore and written judgments expeditiously.
  • An understanding of the diverse communities using the Court of Appeal.
  • Understanding of the impact of law on society.
  • Understanding and appreciation of the importance of comity between the branches of Government.
  • The ability to contribute to the esteem in which our jurisdiction is held.
  • 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 users and staff.
  • Leadership skills.

Additional Information

Eligibility

The candidate must be a Court of Appeal Judge or a High Court Judge. if the successful Judge is not already a Court of Appeal Judge, the Lord Chancellor will – under Section 78 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (CRA) – make a request to the Judicial Appointments Commission, that the judge be considered by a selection panel for Lord Justices of Appeal established under Section 79 of the CRA and be appointed as a judge of the Court of Appeal at the earliest available opportunity.

How to Apply

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

Please ensure your examples provide evidence of where your knowledge and experience matches the essential criteria required for the role.

Your supporting statement 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.

  • Complete the:
    • Conflicts of interest and Previous conduct which is attached
    • Referee details – please give names/contact details of two referees (who will be contacted if you are shortlisted for interview);
    • Diversity form – DIVERSITY MONITORING FORM

Reference Number:  PAT 160059

Attachments
LAW COM EWB CIP 060722
Law Comm Supporting-Documents

This post is NOT regulated by The Commissioner for Public Appointments.

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