The Lord-Lieutenant jointly chairs the Lord Chancellor’s regional Magistracy Advisory Committee. He shares this with the Lord-Lieutenants of West Sussex and Surrey.
The task of the committee is to select suitable volunteers to join the ‘Bench’ – a traditional name for a panel of magistrates. In Sussex there are about 355 magistrates allocated to three Benches (Sussex Eastern, Sussex Central, and Sussex Western).
This role reflects the fact that historically the Lord-Lieutenant was responsible to the Crown for enforcing law and order. He is ‘Custos Rotulorum’ for the county, which means ‘Master of the Rolls’.
What magistrates do
Magistrates are ordinary people who decide court cases in their community. They sit in benches of three and listen to all the evidence. Then they follow decision-making processes and case law to reach fair decisions. A legal advisor sits with them to give advice on points of law.
Volunteer as a magistrate
The Lord-Lieutenant encourages people of all ages and backgrounds, who can show they have ‘good character’, to volunteer. Being a magistrate is a fulfilling and worthwhile way of serving the community.
Magistrates are aged between 18 and 70 and must commit to a minimum of 13 days a year in court.
You do not need legal qualifications; you will receive all the training you need.
To find out more, visit: Become a magistrate | GOV.UK.
The Lord-Lieutenant attends the ceremony at Lewes Crown Court to ‘swear in’ new magistrates. You make a formal promise to be honest before the Magistrates Liaison Judge.
You then have a period of training before you are qualified to sit in court.