Chief Magistrate

Who is the Chief Magistrate?

The current Chief Magistrate is Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot.

The Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate), as he or she is known, has a leadership responsibility for the 300-or-so District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) (DJMCs), and Deputy DJMCs across England and Wales. The Chief Magistrate has no authority over lay magistrates, or over the several hundreds of district judges who sit in the county courts of England and Wales.

Responsibilities

The Chief Magistrate is responsible for:

  • hearing many of the most sensitive or complex cases in the magistrates’ courts and in particular extradition and special jurisdiction cases.
  • supporting and guiding district judge (magistrates’ courts) colleagues.
  • liaising with the senior judiciary and Presiding Judges on matters relating to magistrates’ courts and district judges (magistrates’ courts).

The Chief Magistrate’s Office is also responsible for arranging sittings of Deputy DJMCs across England and Wales, and managing the hearings of disciplinary adjudications in prisons. Where a disciplinary offence by a prisoner merits additional days of imprisonment, full-time district judges are deployed to prisons to hear the cases. Requests come from prisons throughout the country – a list of cases is then built up, and when a sufficient number of cases has been generated, a judge attends the prison to hear them.

Origins of the post

When the first Chief Magistrate began sitting at Bow Street in 1735, the title wasn’t confusing at all – at the time, magistrates in London were paid judicial office-holders, and magistrates’ courts in London were presided over by Metropolitan stipendiary magistrates.  All magistrates – paid and unpaid – are Justices of the Peace. Nowadays the word magistrate is more commonly used for the unpaid judicial office holders, also commonly known as JPs.

Early holders of the post also had responsibility for the Bow Street Runners, until they were replaced by the Metropolitan Police in the 19th century.

A national Bench

In 2000, the various stipendiary magistrates around the country became District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts), under the leadership of the Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate), a title conferred by parliament.

The Chief Magistrate’s Office

The Chief Magistrate’s Office provides administrative support both to the Chief Magistrate and to district judges sitting at all the magistrates’ courts in England and Wales.

The Chief Magistrate’s Office is based at:

181 Marylebone Road
London
NW1 5BR
DX 120551, Marylebone 9

Office global email addresses:

Judicial Deployment – gl-cmo.ddjdeployment@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Prison Section – gl-ind.adjudication@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Contact Position Telephone
Emma Arbuthnot Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate)
Tanweer Ikram Deputy Senior District Judge (Deputy Chief Magistrate)
Stephen Smith Secretary to the Chief Magistrate and Deputy Chief Magistrate 020 3126 3100
Talwinder Buttar Researcher for the Chief Magistrate 020 3126 3103
Holly Ryder Delivery Manager 020 3126 3107
Ian Calvert Admin officer – Judicial Deployment 020 3126 3104
Karen Jennings Team Leader – Prison Section 020 3126 3105
Jabir Ahmed Admin Officer – Prison Section 020 3126 3109
Gold Fax 01264 887 396

 

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