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Advocate Panels - Magistrates’ and Youth Court

Summary of Application Process

Applications and references are submitted via the Online Application Portal to the Advocate Panel team in HQ Operations with the assessment of applications undertaken at Circuit/Area level.

Advocate Panels - Application Process – Magistrates’ and Youth Court Panel

This guidance describes the process applicants to the CPS Advocate Panel for the Magistrates’ and Youth Court must follow.

Introduction

All advocates appointed to join the CPS Advocate Panel must meet the assessment criteria for level and Panel applied for, and agree to abide by the Advocate Panel Members’ Commitment (see main Advocate Panels page).

Applicants who join will be appointed for the duration of the Panel, which is typically four years. CPS has discretion to amend the duration but will only do so in consultation with the Bar Council and Law Society.

The application process will be open and transparent and provide equal opportunity for all applicants. There will be no quotas in respect of sex, ethnicity, sexuality, age or disability for candidates being appointed onto the Panel.

Applications to join the Magistrates’ and Youth Court Panel

Applicants applying to join the Panel must complete the relevant online application. When applying, solicitor applicants should quote their Solicitor Regulatory Authority (SRA) number.

Applications will be assessed on the content of the written application, examples of work and written references. There will be no interview or other test as part of the assessment process.

It is important that applicants take time and care when completing their application form. In doing so, applicants should refer to the guidance available.

Please note:

  • All applications must be submitted via the online portal
  • Incomplete applications will not be assessed
  • Paper submissions are not acceptable
  • Word limits must be observed
  • Under no circumstances should an applicant include sensitive case information that can be linked to a specific case or individual. For example, providing a case/defendant/witness name and confirmation that the matter involved a CHIS, protected witnesses, ex parté application or other sensitive hearing. Please refer to the Sensitive Identifying Case Information section on the main Advocate Panels page for further guidance.

Each applicant applying to join the Panel must submit an application via the online application portal and attach the relevant supporting material, where required to do so. Applicants must also ensure that completed references are submitted.

All successful applicants must sign up to use secure email as a condition of being appointed to the Panel. CJSM accounts should be accessed regularly to ensure they are not disabled allowing for communications from the CPS to be received.

Pre-Qualification Questions

All new applicants must answer pre-qualification questions as part of the application process. Further details can be found on the pre-qualification section of the website.

Applying to Join

Applications to join the Magistrates’ and Youth Court Panel can be submitted any time, provided the applicant meets the qualification requirement.

An application consists of the following documents:

  • Completed online application form, including equalities monitoring questions (not part of assessment)
  • A reference from an appropriate referee using the online system

For applicants wishing to prosecute for the CPS in magistrates’ courts in Cymru-Wales it is desirable, but not essential, to be able to speak Welsh and conduct proceedings in Welsh. The application process requires applicants to declare their ability to speak/conduct proceedings in Welsh.

References

Applicants should provide one reference. An appropriate referee might be a Senior Partner or lawyer from the CPS or other prosecuting authority.

Applicants should secure and ensure referees submit references online in accordance with the guidance.

PLEASE NOTE: It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all references are submitted to the CPS in accordance with the guidance. The Advocate Panel team will not contact referees to request or chase references on behalf of the applicant. Accordingly, applicants should ensure that potential referees are given sufficient notice (28 days) of what they are required to provide and the date the applicant requires the reference.

A CPS lawyer may compose a reference for an Advocate Panel applicant. However, the draft reference must be referred to either the Chief Crown Prosecutor/Head of Casework Division, or someone delegated by the Chief Crown Prosecutor/Head of Casework Division, for approval and must not be submitted on the online portal without this approval.

Information for referees can be found in the Explanatory Note to Referees.

Submission of applications

The application form and all supporting documentation, including references, should be submitted using the application portal.

Selection criteria - Magistrates' and Youth Court Panel

Entry to the Panel is through this application process and is open to solicitor agents with a valid practising certificate wishing to prosecute exclusively in the magistrates’ court and Youth Court.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate an ability to conduct competently a range of magistrates’ courts prosecutions up to and including a whole day’s list, and straightforward Youth Court cases.

Applicants must provide evidence of up-to-date legal knowledge relevant to such prosecutions and demonstrate appropriate standards of advocacy.  Applicants should be able to demonstrate that they are able to work well with others in this range of prosecutions.

Application Requirements

An application to join the Advocate Panel consists of the following documents:

  • Completed online application form, including equalities monitoring questions (not part of the assessment)
  • A reference from an appropriate referee.

References

Applicants should provide one reference. An appropriate referee might be a Senior Partner or instructing members of the CPS or other prosecuting authority who has seen the applicant perform advocacy.

With regard to the type of work advocates will be expected to undertake, Referees should be able to state:

  • The extent of their knowledge of the applicant’s work;
  • How they assess the applicant’s suitability to conduct prosecution work;
  • How they assess the applicant’s ability in respect of advocacy.

Evidence of competency

Applicants should provide details of their knowledge, skills and experience on the application form under each heading. They should provide relevant examples based on criminal casework.

When providing evidence to support their application, applicants should clearly state what role they played. Examples can be given of difficulties faced and how they were overcome.

Applicants should take care not to include sensitive information within their application. Reference to sensitive material will result in a score of 0 for that section.

Selection Criteria

The criteria for assessment will be:

  • Advocacy
  • Other relevant knowledge, skills and experience (including relevant defence experience)
  • Appreciation of the role of CPS Panel Advocate.

Advocacy criteria

  • A valid practising certificate
  • The ability to conduct advocacy in respect of all magistrates’ court prosecutions and straightforward Youth Court cases

Other Relevant Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • The ability to prepare, prosecute and progress cases confidently and securely using digital technology
  • Relevant defence or regulatory work of an equivalent level, if any

Appreciation of the Role of CPS Panel Advocate

  • A knowledge of ethical standards
  • A knowledge of CPS Values
  • A willingness to work as part of a prosecution team without compromising professional independence
  • Familiarity with, and understanding of, the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the Farquharson guidelines on the role of the prosecution advocate
  • An appropriate understanding of the professional relationship between the CPS, the police and the advocate  
  • An appreciation of the requirements in relation to speaking to victims and witnesses.
Assessment Process - Magistrates' and Youth Court Panel

Assessment of applications

Applications to join the Magistrates’ and Youth Court Panel will be assessed by a single member of the CPS who will score the candidate against the selection criteria.

Each criterion will be scored against the requirements of the selection criteria and an overall score determined.

The criteria for assessment of Magistrates’ and Youth Court applications will fall under the following headings:

  • Advocacy
  • Other relevant knowledge, skills and experience
  • Understanding the role of the CPS Panel Advocate

Scoring Framework

Assessors will review and score each application against the criteria, which are particularised on the assessment form.

The response for each of the criterion will be scored between 0-7 points based on the specific requirements of the selection criteria in the context of the casework for this Panel. For example, overall advocacy experience markings would be awarded as follows:

ScoreLabelDefinition
1Not DemonstratedNo positive evidence of the competency
2Minimal DemonstrationLimited positive evidence of the competency
3Moderate DemonstrationModerate positive evidence of the competency
4Acceptable DemonstrationAdequate positive evidence of the competency
5Good DemonstrationSubstantial positive evidence of the competency
6Strong DemonstrationSubstantial, positive evidence of the competency and includes some evidence of exceeding expectations
7Outstanding DemonstrationEvidence provided wholly exceeds expectation at this level

Applicants are asked to reference their answers to criminal law. If they have no knowledge, skills or experience in this area they are invited to give examples of analogous knowledge, skills or experience or an aptitude to develop in these areas. Applicants who have failed to do so should receive fewer marks, proportionate to the relevance of the area(s) to the criteria.

Defence experience will carry equal weight to prosecution experience provided the applicant can demonstrate that their defence skills and knowledge are transferable to prosecution work.

Assessors need to be aware that:

  1. The word limit for each section of the application form is deliberately very tight
  2. Applicants are expected to focus on their ability and experience and analyse it constructively
  3. Applicants should not get credit merely for listing cases or saying “I have been involved in…”  This gives no basis for assessing their ability, achievements or potential
  4. Applicants have been asked to select referees on the basis of who can say most about their competencies. 
  5. Applicants who have a predominantly defence practice should be able to demonstrate transferable skills and knowledge
  6. Applicants from a non-criminal background may not have direct experience of some of the more mainstream criminal skills. Assessors should be alert to the technical and intellectual demands of the sort of work undertaken and the capacity to adapt that to other areas if required
  7. Under no circumstances should an applicant include sensitive case information that can be linked to a specific case or individual. For example, providing a case/defendant/witness name and confirmation that the matter involved a CHIS, protected witnesses, ex parté application or other sensitive hearing. Please refer to the Sensitive Identifying Case Information section on the main Advocate Panels page for further guidance.

Completion of the assessment forms

Assessors are required to make a full and clear note of the evidence supporting their markings, remembering that applicants may be entitled to see comments under the Data Protection Bill 2017.

Written feedback for unsuccessful applicants

Where an applicant is unsuccessful, they will be provided with an anonymised copy of their assessment form by way of written feedback. Assessment forms should therefore provide sufficient detail to inform an appeal or future application. Specific comments as to why the criteria are not met and where improvements could be made should be provided against each criterion and in the overall comments box.

In circumstances where the Advocate Panel Team consider the Assessor’s written feedback to be insufficient, they will be invited to provide further detail.

Moderation

Moderation of assessments will be undertaken annually by the Advocate Panel team.

Appointment to the Panel

Applicants must meet the minimum acceptable score in their assessment as follows:

LevelNo. of competenciesMinimum score requiredPass mark
Magistrates’ and Youth Court34 (Advocacy)10

Applicants scoring below the acceptable score will not be appointed, even if it means there is a shortfall in advocate numbers.

Magistrates' and Youth Court Panel Applications

Meeting to explain the application process for the Magistrates' and Youth Court Panel

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