Welcome to the Justices' Clerks' Society

The Justices' Clerks' Society

 

“Putting Justice First”

The Justices’ Clerks’ Society was founded in 1839 and incorporated in 1903.  It is a professional body representing Justices’ Clerks and Assistant Justices’ Clerks to Magistrates and to District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) in England and Wales and is committed to improving the quality of justice in Magistrates’ Courts.  One of the main objects of the Society is to keep under review the operation of the law, especially that administered by Magistrates’ Courts in England and Wales , to point out its defects and to support and promote proposals for improvement.  Through the members of its national Council, assisted by the specialist networks, the Society takes an active part in the development of all aspects of the law relating to Magistrates’ Courts and is able to respond to a wide range of proposals emanating from government departments, agencies and other professional bodies.  Members of the Society also play an active role in numerous bodies ranging from the Criminal Justice Consultative Council to the Judicial Studies Board, in addition to developing their own initiatives and innovations. 

 

Membership


Full Membership of the Society is open to all legal advisers in the employment of Her Majesty's Court Service

Corporate Members

(a) There shall be three classes of membership of the Society and all shall be deemed Corporate Members.

(b) Corporate Members shall comprise (1) full members (2) associate members, and (3) honorary members

Classes of Membership

(a) Full Members – Full Members of the Society shall be limited to serving Justices’
Clerks and Assistant Justices’ Clerks in the employment of HMCS. Such members, upon payment to the Treasurer of such annual sum as may from time to time be decided by the Society in General Meeting, shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of membership and shall, without prejudice to the generality of such rights and privileges, be eligible to act as members of the Council of the Society and shall be entitled to receive notices of and to attend and speak and vote at meetings of the Society.

(b) Honorary Members - The Council may also elect to honorary membership any person who, in the opinion of the Council, has rendered signal service to the Society or whose contribution to legal knowledge or criminal science is such that the Council see fit to extend to him the privileges of honorary membership. An honorary member shall be eligible to act as a member of the Council and shall be entitled to receive notices of and to attend and speak and vote at meetings of the Society.

(c) Associate Members - Any member ceasing to be qualified for membership by virtue of Article 5(a) may, upon payment to the Treasurer of such annual sum as may from time to time be decided by the Society in General Meeting, become an associate member. Any person qualified to be an Assistant Justices’ Clerk but not entitled to membership under Article 5(a) and who, in the opinion of Council, is working to further the aims of the Society, may with the approval of Council, and upon payment to the Treasurer of such annual sum as may from time to time be decided by the Society in General Meeting, become an Associate member.

An associate member shall be entitled to receive notices of, to attend, and to speak but not to vote at, meetings of the Society but he shall be ineligible to act as an officer of the Society or as a member of the Council.

Register of Members

A register shall be kept by or under the control of the Council containing the names of all the members of the Society.

Admission

Any person desirous of being admitted to the Society as a member or associate member shall sign and forward to the Secretary of the Society an application in such form as the Council may from time to time determine and shall be eligible for membership if he fulfils the criteria laid down from time to time for the category of membership applied for.

If you would like to become a member of the Society, please contact us for a membership information pack and application form.  Alternatively, please click the attached link to access an electronic copy.

 

Council

 

There shall be a President and three Vice Presidents (herein referred to as ‘officers’) and a Council consisting of the officers and the person who has held the office of President during the year immediately preceding the last Annual General Meeting (if still a member of the Society), who shall be an ex-officio member and twelve members of the Society to be elected by ballot of the members at the Annual General Meeting.

 
OFFICERS

 

President:

C. J. Armstrong, Cumbria   Profile

Vice Presidents:

N. Watson, Leicestershire  Profile

N. H. Draper, Merseyside   Profile

M. Andrews, Merseyside    Profile

Immediate Past President:

P. Veits, Lincoln    

Council:

D. L. Brewer, Wiltshire     Profile

Chairman, Sentencing Committee

R. Davies, Dorset     Profile

Assistant, Training and Development Committee

J Hehir, South Wales

Assistant, Sentencing Committee

S. Jones (Ms), Cleveland

Assistant, Criminal Committee

J. Lynam (Mrs), London South West Region    Profile

Chairman, Training and Development

H. Perkins (Mrs), West Midlands     Profile

Assistant, Family Committee

A. Pickering, Warrington   Profile

Assistant, Youth Committee

W. Partridge, Northern Oxfordshire    Profile

Chairman, Road Traffic Committee

J. Price, Northampton    Profile

Chairman, CriminalCommittee

K. Townend, Liverpool   Profile

Chairman, Youth Committee

Sam Goozee, Dorset

Stuart Hope, Mansfield

 

 

Committees and Networks:

 

Criminal

Chairman, Jonathan Price

Assistant, Sian Jones

 Criminal Law Network

 Judicial & Procedural                         

Chairman, Norman Draper

 

Sentencing

Chairman, David Brewer

Assistant, James Hehir

 

Youth

Chairman,  Keith Townend

Assistant, Andrew Pickering

 Youth Network

Family

Chairman, Mark Andrews

Assistant, Helen Perkins

Family Law Network

Road Traffic

Chairman, William Partridge

Road Traffic Network

Training and Development

Chairman, Jane Lynam

Assistant, Rachel Davies

Journal

Editor, St John Pilkington

Assistant, Rachel Davies

 

In addition to the matters dealt with by the committees within Council there are a number of matters which will be dealt with under the umbrella of the Secretariat but which will involve input from Council, members, consultants and advisers.

 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN

 

PART ONE

Introduction

This document is the Justices’ Clerks’ Society Strategic Plan for the period 2005 to 2008. It describes the Justices’ Clerks’ Society (‘the Society’) and sets out its vision, mission, objectives and goals. It explains the Society’s strategy for the period covered by the plan, and outlines its Action Plan and priorities for the twelve month period 2006/7

The Justices’ Clerks’ Society is committed to improving the quality of justice in Magistrates’ Court. When it was founded in 1839, it was the intention “to establish unity of practice ……… to diffuse information ….. and to watch Parliamentary and other proceedings affecting the interests of members”. At that time, justices of the peace had become accustomed to sitting in petty sessions as well as quarter sessions and each bench had appointed a Justices’ Clerk who was usually, although not always, a solicitor or attorney practising in the area.

Throughout the nineteenth century, members of the Society were active in lobbying the government of the day on proposed legislation and making representations on such reforms as the Adoption of Children Bill. In 1903, the Society was incorporated and has operated since then as a company limited by guarantee. Its membership now comprises Justices’ Clerks and legal advisers in England and Wales.

Through the members of its National Council, assisted by its specialist Networks, the Society takes an active part in the development of all aspects of the law relating to the Magistrates’ Courts. As well as responding to a vast range of proposals emanating from government departments and other organisations, members of the Society play an active role in numerous bodies in addition to developing their own initiatives and innovations. The Society’s overall aim is to contribute to improvements in the administration of justice in England and Wales. The Society’s main and most significant function is to act in the public interest.

The Government is pressing ahead with a programme of radical and systematic reform of the criminal and family justice systems. During the period covered by this plan, the arrangements for the administration of all Magistrates’ Courts are likely to change: the Government is legislating to unify the administration of civil and criminal courts in one statutory Agency. Pending change, the Society will continue to seek to improve the quality of justice with an eye to the future. Most immediately, the Society will work closely with Her Majesty’s Courts Service and the Department of Constitutional Affairs, agreeing common objectives and goals and shared plans of action.

As it takes up another demanding programme of work, the Society welcomes the opportunity to contribute to increasing public confidence in the criminal justice system and to assist in delivering the Government’s twin aims for the criminal justice system: to reduce crime and the fear of crime and – of direct relevance to the Society – to dispense justice fairly and efficiently, promoting confidence in the rule of law. The Society’s primary contribution to public confidence derives from the effective discharge of its responsibilities and particularly through its efforts to achieve the objectives it has set. The Society’s progress in implementing its plans will be described in successive Annual Reports.

The Environment

Criminal justice agencies are operating in a dynamic and fast changing environment. Those proposed changes of direct relevance to the Society are illustrated in diagram one, below. The Government’s proposals for unification and structural reform and the planned development of business systems and information technology are most likely to have the most impact on the Society and its members during the life of this plan.

Structural reform

The Government created a single Agency (Her Majesty’s Courts Service) responsible for the administration of all civil and criminal courts in April 2005 and the Society worked closely with this new Agency during the lead up to unification.

The unification has raised new uncertainties for all of those employed or otherwise involved in civil and criminal courts administration. The Society continues to seek to alleviate those concerns so far as is possible by the timely provision of information as national plans are developed, and by involving its members and others where possible in the detailed planning and implementation work.

Business Systems and Information Technology Development

The provisions of the Courts Act and other planned changes together provide the opportunity to redesign the business systems traditionally used to manage criminal and civil work. During 2006 - 2007 the Society will participate in developing these new systems.


Mission – Purpose Statement


The Justices’ Clerks’ Society exists to improve the quality of justice.


• It aims to provide national cohesion and to harness its members’ expertise to develop:


• The legal and administrative framework for Magistrates’ Courts

• The science and practice of law

• Good practice

• Effective relationships with others interested in the provision of justice Values


The Society recognises the following values as influencing its structure, functions and roles:


• Members will share their expertise with others

• Members will learn and develop themselves and their organisation

• Members will address challenges and changes constructively

• Members will be pro-active in shaping the future

• Members will maximise their contributions



The Society’s Objects

The Society is a company limited by guarantee. The Memorandum of Association of the Justices’ Clerks’ Society provides that the objects for which the Society is established are:


1. To promote the science of law and especially law administered by Justices of the Peace in the United Kingdom.

2. To watch the operation of the law and, more especially, of that administered by Justices of the Peace in the United Kingdom.

3. To subscribe, collect and provide funds to be applied for charitable purposes in deserving cases coming to the notice of Justices of the peace or of Justices’ Clerks.

4. To watch all proposals for legislation in matters affecting the jurisdiction and administration of justice by Justices of the Peace in England and Wale and to take such steps in regard to the support of, or opposition to, such proposals as may seem expedient.

5. To afford means of communication between Members of the Society, officials, Counsel and others, in regard to questions directly or indirectly affecting the administration of justice, to collect, record and disseminate statistics and information of interest to those engaged in the administration of justice and to Parliament.

6. To purchase or otherwise acquire property for the purposes of the Society, to borrow or raise money and to sell, dispose of, or otherwise deal with, any property for the time being of the Society.

7. To do all such other lawful things as are conducive to the attainment of the above objects.


Strategic Aims and Objectives

Each of the Society’s activities can be assigned to one of five areas of activity:

8. Policy, Strategy and Leadership – This process includes the professional
development of the Society and its members, and the assistance provided to central government.
9. External Partnerships – This includes links with other bodies within the justice system.
10. People Management – This process concerns the recruitment, training and welfare of the Society’s employees.
11. Managing Communications – the process by which the Society communicates with members and with government
12. Managing Resources and Finances – the management of the Society’s budget.

Goals

The Society’s plans and goals for each of the five areas of activity are detailed in Part Two of this plan which represents the current year Action Plan.



PART TWO

Policy, Strategy and Leadership

The Society strives to ensure that the role, function and status of Justices’ Clerks and Legal Advisers is well established and generally accepted as being the key to the success of the justice system.

The Society’s goal is:

1. To develop the Society as a centre of excellence within and for the justice system

The Key Actions are:

o To assist central government to introduce appropriately timed initiatives that do not impact on judicial independence

o To ensure that enforcement of court orders is conducted efficiently and effectively

o To assist central government to ensure that relevant legislative sentencing reforms are working well

o To contribute to the successful use of ICT in the summary justice system


2 To gain full recognition of the judicial role of Justices’ Clerks and Legal Advisers

o To gain approval from the JSB of a syllabus for training lawyers in the MCS

o To ensure that HMCS recognises the Judicial Role

o To ensure that the Bar/Law Society recognises the Judicial Role

o To persuade the Judiciary to recognise the Judicial Role and agree the introduction of a “Judicial Officer” oath

o To promote the Society’s responsibility for the professional development of its members

o To develop the Society to be responsible for and provide guidance in relation to the professional conduct of legal advisers

o Ensure deadlines for responses and publications are met


External Partnerships

The Society continues to consult with, meet with, and exchange good practice with, a wide range of partner organisations within the criminal justice system. It is assisted in this work by the secretariat.

The Society’s goal is:

1. To develop strong relationships with other bodies within the justice system

o To ensure the Society is regarded as a key Consultee on wide ranging issues by other bodies within the Justice system

o To review and develop liaison with the Magistrates Association and the professional judiciary and to take opportunities to publish joint advice/guidance where appropriate

o To agree with the Judicial Studies board arrangements whereby the Society advises on judicial independence aspects of proposed ‘guidance’ for magistrates’ courts from external agencies

o To agree a memorandum of understanding with the Judicial Studies Board on the future role of the Society in magistrates and legal adviser training, including an agreed position whereby the Society acts as the Boards guarantor of judicial independence in terms of material and delivery of such training

o To agree a memorandum of understanding with the Magistrates’ Association on ‘inter alia’ future liaison arrangements

o To agree a memorandum of understanding with the National Bench Chairmen’s Forum on ‘inter alia’ future liaison arrangements



People Management and leadership

The Society is managed through an eighteen strong Council, each of whom is a member of the Society. The posts are not salaried. The Society employs a Chief Executive and 4 assistants.

The Society’s goal is:

1 To develop the collective professional leadership role of the Society for all lawyers within HMCS

o To agree a memorandum of understanding on the role of the Society with HMCS which promotes the Society’s role as judicial governance structure within the framework of corporate strategy

o To ensure that the Society has appropriate internal policies

o To offer development opportunities to Society members

o To provide further access to membership and associate membership of the Society

o To develop regional structures to ensure proper governance, communication and accountability

o To review and develop the Society’s range of Networks (both nationally and at Branch level) to provide national professional leadership in their distinct areas of responsibility

o To continue HMCS support for Council members in their work for the Society

o To develop a lead or co-ordinating Branch role on Council

o To explore corporate membership of the Society



2. To continue to develop arrangements for engagement with HMCS in terms of commenting on national policy and advice, and in terms of ‘signing off’ national guidance

o To gain recognition by HMCS of the role of Council members in their strategic and regional/area plans

o To ensure that Council members have no difficulty in attending meetings and meeting response deadlines

3. To develop the Society’s role as the National Legal Forum and as a national voice promoting national consistency and independent legal advice on matters affecting magistrates’ courts

o To provide further access to membership and associate membership of the Society

o To develop regional structures to ensure proper governance, communication and accountability

o To continue the support for Council members in their work for the Society provided by HMCS

o To gain recognition by HMCS that the Society as a body should act as the “Head of Service”



Manage Communications

The Society’s Communications Strategy is focussed primarily on the achievement of the organisation’s objectives and, in particular, enhancing public confidence and improving the quality of justice.



The Society’s goal is:

1. To ensure that strategic planning process is a permanent feature of the Society’s work

o To continue to develop and monitor the Society’s Strategic Plan

o To develop a meaningful Action Plan based on the agreed Strategic Plan



2. To ensure that key stakeholders are more knowledgeable of the work of the Society, its achievements and the role of the Justices’ Clerk and Legal Advisers

o Engage with key stakeholders in person and by exchange of information

o Ensure that the society is consulted and is given sufficient time to respond



3. To ensure members are kept informed of developments and the work of Council

o Engage information with members of the society

o Upgrade and continually monitor the Society’s website

o Review the society’s communication methods and develop a system of regular updates for members

o Review the role and format of conference and identify other potential national working meetings which could be hosted by the society



Manage Resources and Finances

The Society is publicly funded and continuation of this funding is only guaranteed by ensuring value for money.



The Society’s goal is:

1 To develop an efficient and effective Secretariat

o To establish an annual business planning process relating to the Secretariat

o To ensure that budgets are prepared in line with the strategic plan



2 To continue to provide a cost effective Society

o To establish an annual business planning process alongside HMCS

o To ensure that budgets are prepared in line with the strategic plan

o To constantly review the Societies financial regulations

o To review/recruit and engage Auditors



3 To ensure continuing support for the public funding of the Society

o To continue the support of the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Her Majesty’s Court Service for the Public Funding of the Society

o Ensure value for money

 

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