Role details

Chairman of the Law Commission of England and Wales PAT 160059

Application deadline 31 August 2022

Summary

Organisation
Law Commission
Sponsor department
Ministry of Justice
Location
London
Sector
Regulation
Skills
Regulation
Number of vacancies
1
Time commitment
36 hour(s) per week
Length of term
Three years (with possibility of one-year extension)
Application deadline
11am on 31 August 2022

Apply for this role

Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    11 July 2022

  2. Application deadline

    11am on 31 August 2022

These dates are indicative and may be subject to change

Person specification

Essential criteria

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.

Role description

Role 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.”

Organisation description

The Law Commission was established in 1965 and is an independent arm’s length body operating under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Justice. Our statutory function is to keep the law of England and Wales under review and to recommend reform where it is needed. The aim of the Commission is to ensure that the law is fair, modern, simple, and cost effective. We achieve this by conducting law reform projects looking at areas of law that are causing problems to individuals, businesses, the third sector or Government. We examine the law, consider options for reform in consultation with stakeholders, and finally make recommendations to Government and Parliament.

We have produced more than 350 sets of law reform recommendations over more than 50 years. Less than 10% of our reports have been rejected in that time. More recently, only 3 reports have been rejected in the last 15 years. We tackle any area of law that is suitable for consideration by an independent body of legal policy experts. Our work ranges from the highly technical, such as the repeal of obsolete enactments and the streamlining of over-complicated law, to formulation of new legal approaches to high-profile social and economic policy issues. Our projects generally address relatively broad and complex areas of law rather than narrow legal issues. 

We employ, and work with, some of the best legal minds in the country and have an excellent track record of building consensus so that Government and Parliament can have confidence that our recommendations can be implemented effectively.

The archetypal Law Commission end-products are our detailed law reform reports. Our reports are often accompanied by draft legislation and are backed up by impact assessments. We also have experience in providing advice to Government, and in proposing draft regulation or non-legislative solutions including official guidance and explanatory legal clarification, often for a non-legal audience.

The Law Commission is not suitable for projects where the answer is required in weeks. Our commitment to thorough research and analysis, in-depth consultation and the Law Commissioners’ detailed peer review of our law reform teams’ work, means that our projects are likely to take in excess of twelve months.

The Commission has five statutory Commissioners. The Chair is a serving Court of Appeal Judge. Each of the other four Commissioners is a leading legal expert and oversees a team of lawyers and research assistants working in one of four teams, currently: Criminal Law; Property, Family and Trust Law; Public Law and Welsh Law; and, Commercial and Common Law.

A full list of current Law Commission projects is available on our website (www.lawcom.gov.uk).

Consultation

The Commission is asked to consider some of the most challenging areas of the law. We have the capacity to work through the issues and understand the differing perspectives before we put forward recommendations for reform. The Commission is wedded to the principles of genuine public consultation with the widest possible audience. This enables thorough scrutiny of our proposals, which will often be developed or adjusted in light of the contributions of stakeholders, both in the UK and overseas.

Our approach invariably involves a significant amount of face-to-face engagement with expert individuals and representative bodies, as well as formal public consultation. This process is time consuming, but it leads to well-considered recommendations which can be demonstrated to be based on the best possible evidence. The process gives the best possible opportunity for consensus to emerge.

Independence

One of the reasons the Government asks the Law Commission to undertake work is because we are rigorously independent. Our recommendations are based on an evidence-based analysis of options, and our view of the best way to reform the law. To demonstrate our independence, the Commission always publishes its conclusions at the end of a project, laying our final reports in Parliament. The Lord Chancellor has a duty to make an annual statement to Parliament about the implementation of Law Commission reports.

We are, however, responsible in the exercise of our independence. We are acutely aware of the need to put forward realistic and workable solutions. We are often able to frame terms of reference in a way which focuses our work within particular parameters avoiding controversies or the opening of issues where Government policy is fixed. We have developed Protocols with the UK and Welsh Governments which record that we will only undertake work where Government has a “serious intention” to take forward law reform in the area.

Staff

The Law Commission is a small organisation of approximately 70 staff, the majority of whom are legal experts, many specialising in a particular area of law. Each team is led by a Commissioner and a Legal Team Manager, overseeing a number of lawyers and Research Assistants. Our staff have policy, legislative and legal expertise, which results in our recommendations demonstrating not just strong legal analysis but also a deep understanding of policy development and the mechanics of changing the law, and experience of what will work in practice. We bring in external expert lawyers and others where necessary for particular specialist projects where we do not already have suitable staff. We also have in-house Parliamentary Counsel (legislative drafters) who not only draft any legislation accompanying the project but also offer advice as to the legislative workability of our proposals from the outset of the project. We also employ an economist who ensures that the costs and benefits of our recommendations are accurately and robustly assessed through the provision of accompanying Economic Impact Assessments. There is a small Corporate Services Team, providing communications, HR and Finance advice.

Budget

The Law Commission receives approximately £4-5million annually from the Ministry of Justice but also seeks to secures funding from Whitehall Departments to offset the funding from the Ministry of Justice.

Regulation of appointment

This post is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. For more information, please refer to the Commissioner’s website 

Application and selection process

How to apply

In order to apply you will need to provide:

  1. A  Curriculum Vitae which provides details of your education and qualifications, employment history, directorships, membership of professional bodies and details of any publications or awards;

  2. A supporting statement setting out how you meet the eligibility criteria;

  3. Information relating to any outside interests or reputational issues;

  4. Diversity monitoring information. This allows us to see if there are any unfair barriers to becoming a public appointee and whether there are any changes that we could make to encourage a more diverse field to apply. You can select “prefer not to say” to any question you do not wish to answer. The information you provide will not be used as part of the selection process and will not be seen by the interview panel.

  5. Disability Confident If you want to be considered for the disability confident scheme

  6. Reasonable adjustments - requests for reasonable adjustments that you would like to the application process (if applicable).
  7. Complete the:
Completed applications should be submitted to  publicappointmentsteam@justice.gov.uk

The Advisory Assessment Panel reserves the right to only consider applications that contain all of the elements listed above, and that arrive before the published deadline for applications.

If you have any questions about the appointments process, please contact Ed.Bowie@Justice.gov.uk

Overview of the application process

Public appointments are made on merit following a fair and open competition process which is conducted in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments. We will deal with your application as quickly as possible and will keep you informed at key stages. We aim to conclude the appointment process within three months of the deadline for applications – this is in accordance with the Governance Code.

The assessment process

  1. Ministers are responsible and accountable to Parliament for the public appointments made within their department. As a result, they must be consulted at every stage of the appointments process.

  2. An Advisory Assessment Panel (“Panel”) is appointed by Ministers to assist them in their decision making. The role of the Panel is to decide, objectively, which candidates meet the eligibility criteria for the role.

  3. At the shortlisting meeting the Panel will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and decide which candidates should be recommended for interview. Ministers will then be consulted on the Panel’s recommended shortlist.

  4. Once the shortlist has been agreed by Ministers, you will be advised (by e-mail) whether you have been shortlisted. Those shortlisted will be invited to an interview.

  5. The Panel will meet again to interview candidates and determine who is appointable to the role. The names of all appointable candidates are provided to Ministers. It is then for Ministers to determine merit and decide who should be appointed. In some circumstances, Ministers may choose not to appoint any candidates and re-run the competition.

  6. The Panel’s recommendations will be provided to Ministers in a report which details the assessment method used and the outcome of each interview. They will then be asked to agree on the candidate(s) who should be appointed.

  7. Once the decision on the appointment has been made, interviewed candidates will be advised of the outcome of their application. Successful candidates will be issued with their Terms & Conditions and a letter of appointment should they agree to take up the position.

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

Advisory Assessment Panels (AAP) are chosen by ministers to assist them in their decision-making. These include a departmental official and an independent member. For competitions recruiting non-executive members of a board (apart from the Chair), the panel will usually include a representative from the public body concerned.
AAP’s perform a number of functions, including agreeing an assessment strategy with ministers, undertaking sifting, carrying out interviews in line with the advertised criteria and deciding objectively who meets the published selection criteria for the role before recommending to ministers which candidates they find appointable. It is then for the minister to decide who to appoint to the role.

·     Jo Farrar CB: MoJ Second Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive HMPPS (Panel Chair);

  • The Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Vos: Master of the Rolls:
  • The Rt Hon Lord Kakkar: Chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC);
  • Sue Hoyle OBE: a JAC Lay Commissioner; and
  • Professor John Tasioulas: Professor of Ethics and Legal Philosophy; Director of the Institute for Ethics in AI, University of Oxford.

Eligibility criteria

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.

If you need further advice, please contact publicappointmentsteam@justice.gov.uk

Security clearance

The successful candidate will be required to undertake Baseline Personnel Security Standard checks in line with the Civil Service guidelines. Additional Security Clearance may also be required for certain roles. However, where this applies, candidates will be notified during the appointment process. Further information on National Security Vetting can be found on the Gov.uk website here.

Additional information for candidates

Equality and diversity

We encourage applications from talented individuals from all backgrounds and across the whole of the United Kingdom. Boards of public bodies are most effective when they reflect the diversity of views of the society they serve and this is an important part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.
We collect data about applicants’ characteristics and backgrounds, including information about people’s educational and professional backgrounds, so that we can make sure we are attracting a broad range of people to these roles and that our selection processes are fair for everyone. Without this information, it makes it difficult to see if our outreach is working, if the application process is having an unfair impact on certain groups and whether changes are making a positive difference.
When you submit your application, your responses are collected by the Cabinet Office and the government department(s) managing your application. The data is used to produce management information about the diversity of applicants. You can select “prefer not to say” to any question you do not wish to answer. The information you provide will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel who review applications against the advertised criteria and conduct interviews.

Disability confident

We are a member of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme. We use the Disability Confident scheme symbol, along with other like-minded employers, to show our commitment to good practice in employing people with a disability. The scheme helps recruit and retain disabled people. 
As part of implementing the scheme, we guarantee an interview for anyone with a disability whose application meets the minimum criteria for the role and who has asked that their application is considered under the scheme. Indicating that you wish your application to be considered under the scheme will in no way prejudice your application. By ‘minimum criteria,’ we mean that you must provide evidence which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria, as set out in the job-advert.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to select if you would like your application considered under this scheme.

Reasonable adjustments

Government departments are committed to making reasonable adjustments to make sure applicants with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, or other needs are not substantially disadvantaged when applying for public appointments. This can include changing the recruitment process to enable people who wish to apply to do so.
Some examples of common changes are:
  • ensuring that application forms are available in different or accessible formats;
  • making adaptations to interview locations;
  • allowing candidates to present their skills and experience in a different way;
  • giving detailed information on the selection / interview process in advance to allow candidates time to prepare themselves;
  • allowing support workers, for example sign language interpreters;
  • making provision for support animals to attend.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to the application process.

Principles of public life

Holders of public office are expected to adhere to and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-7-principles-of-public-life/the-7-principles-of-public-life--2. These are:

  1. SELFLESSNESS - Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family or their friends;
  2. INTEGRITY - Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties;
  3. OBJECTIVITY - In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit;
  4. ACCOUNTABILITY - Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office;
  5. OPENNESS - Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands;
  6. HONESTY - Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest;
  7. LEADERSHIP - Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

Code of conduct for board members

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. In support of this, all non-executive board members of UK public bodies must abide by the principles set out in the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. The Code sets out the standards expected from those who serve on the boards of UK public bodies and will form part of your terms and conditions of appointment.

Management of outside interests and consideration of reputational issues

Holders of public office are expected to adhere and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. Before you apply you should consider carefully: 
  • any outside interests that you may have, such as shares you may hold in a company providing services to government; 
  • any possible reputational issues arising from your past actions or or public statements that you have made; 
  • and/or - any political roles you hold or political campaigns you have supported; 
which may call into question your ability to do the role you are applying for.
You will need to answer relevant questions in relation to these points when making an application. Many conflicts of interest can be satisfactorily resolved and declaring a potential conflict does not prevent you from being interviewed. If you are shortlisted for an interview, the panel will discuss any potential conflicts with you during that interview, including any proposals you may have to mitigate them and record that in their advice to ministers. Alongside your own declaration, we will conduct appropriate checks, as part of which we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This may include searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. The successful candidate(s) may be required to give up any conflicting interests and their other business and financial interests may be published in line with organisational policies. 
Details of declared political activity will be published when the appointment is announced, as required by the Governance Code (political activity is not a bar to appointment, but must be declared).

Status of appointment

You will not become a member of the Civil Service. You will not be subject to the provisions of employment law.

Appointment and tenure of office

Appointments are for the term set out in this advert, with the possibility of re-appointment for a further term, at the discretion of Ministers.  Any re-appointment is subject to satisfactory annual appraisals of performance during the first term in the post. If re-appointed, the total time served in post will not exceed more than two terms or serve in any one post for more than ten years

Remuneration, allowances and abatement

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.

Pension and redundancy

This is an office holder appointment and does not attract any benefits under any Civil Service Pension Scheme. You will not be eligible for redundancy pay as you are not an employee. No other arrangements have been made for compensation upon termination because an office holder who is appointed for a limited duration would have no expectation of serving beyond that period.

Application feedback

We will notify you of the status of your application. We regret that due to the volume of applications received, we are only able to offer feedback to candidates who have been unsuccessful at the interview stage.

How to complain

If you have a complaint about any aspect of the way your application has been handled, we would like to hear from you. In the first instance please e-mail the Public Appointments Team at the e-mail address below quoting the appropriate reference number.

   Maggie Garrett, Head of the Public Appointments Team, ALB Centre of Expertise, Ministry of Justice, E-mail address: PublicAppointmentsTeam@justice.gov.uk

   Complaints must be received by the Public Appointments Team within 12 calendar months of the issue or the closure of the recruitment competition, 

whichever is the later.
   We will acknowledge your complaint within two working days of receipt and reply within 20 working days of receipt. We will tell you if we cannot meet this deadline for any reason and provide an expected reply date.

How to complain to Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA)

If you are not content with the appointing department’s response you may wish to further complain to the Commissioner at publicappointments@csc.gov.uk.Further information on how the Commissioner handles complaints can be found on the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ website https://publicappointmentscommissioner.independent.gov.uk/regulating-appointments/investigating-complaints/

Data protection

The Cabinet Office will use your data in line with our privacy policy.
For Public Appointments Team privacy policy click:  HERE

Contact details

If you have any questions about any aspects of this post, before you apply, you are welcome to contact Phil Golding at the Law Commission: Phillip.Golding@lawcommission.gov.uk