New Handbook for Judicial Officers published

The new Handbook for Judicial Officers was published in October 2021.

The Handbook contains a collection of articles curated from a broad range of judicial speeches and recent papers published in The Judicial Review and the Judicial Officers’ Bulletin, as well as articles by legal academics.  While principally directed to new judicial officers, the Handbook provides guidance to all judicial officers on all aspects of the judicial role.

The Handbook has been structured into three distinct areas.

Part 1 deals with the role of the judicial officer and the essential judicial qualities of independence, accountability, impartiality and fairness, reflected in the oath taken by every judicial officer to administer justice “without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”.  The Handbook then looks at the application of the judge’s oath in a discussion of cultural and linguistic diversity, ethics, efficiency, competence and case management.

Part 2 explores the judicial method and gives practical guidance to presiding over the court.  Topics covered include effective judicial communication, decision-making, legal reasoning and judgment-writing. The role of judicial education concludes this part.

Part 3 examines current and future challenges that judicial officers might experience during their career. These include interactions with the legal profession, issues of bullying and sexual harassment, and the potential challenges for judicial officers inherent in socialising and engaging in and with social media.  Methods to combat bias, actual and unconscious, are discussed in practical terms. Stress caused by public criticism, vicarious trauma and unrepresented or vexatious litigants is examined and practical solutions are suggested. Non-adversarial justice and therapeutic justice, including running a trauma-informed court, are also examined as aspects of the judicial toolkit. The benefits and challenges of technology are then discussed with particular reference to artificial intelligence and online justice.