January 2013 (updated August 2014)
The approach to requests for judicial assistance
The aim of this guidance is to promote:
- a consistent approach to requests for judicial assistance with research into the judicial process,
- or other aspects of court administration or procedure.
We would like to assist with research as much as we can but judicial resources are limited and in reality the judiciary are unable to help all applicants.
For this reason, research applications will not normally be accepted from:
- secondary school students;
- undergraduates; or
- those undertaking post-graduate Masters and other taught courses.
Similarly, we would not normally accept foreign research applications, unless there is some special reason for wishing to encourage comparative study in a particular subject.
There is a great deal of general information about judges and the judicial process and the courts and tribunals administration on the judicial website:
The 2014 statistics on judicial diversity:
Ministry of Justice page for academics:
Approval of judicial participation in research
Approval for judicial participation is granted by the relevant judicial Head of Division or in the case of the tribunals’ judiciary the Senior President.
Not all tribunals are within the Senior President’s remit. If research proposals are received which relate to the other tribunals, the Senior President’s Office will pass them on to the relevant Tribunal President.
Professional researchers who want to conduct research involving any member of the judiciary must submit a formal application which clearly sets out:
- how the research will benefit the judiciary or the courts and tribunals administration and improve or promote the administration of justice;
- the aims and objectives of the research;
- the proposed methodology and any supporting documentation;
- ethical approval, if appropriate;
- what similar research is already in the public domain;
- what alternative sources of data/information have been considered before an application for judicial participation was made;
- if interviews are included, an outline of the areas under discussion or where possible, the questions in advance; and
- the anticipated start date and duration.
All formal applications should be accompanied by a set of clear questions which the researcher may wish to put to any member of the judiciary once approval is granted.
The application will be considered by the relevant senior judge who may ask HMCTS, the Ministry of Justice research team and other senior judiciary as appropriate for their views. Those views will be taken into account when making a decision. These processes can take time, depending on the complexity of your application and the availability of senior judges. You should therefore build sufficient time into your timetable and make any application well in advance of your proposed start date.
Approval for judicial participation will only be granted if, in the view of the senior judiciary:
- the proposed research is in the public interest;
- the nature of the proposed research makes judicial participation necessary;
- judicial discretion and independence would not be impaired by participation in the proposed research and members of the judiciary would not be drawn into areas of political controversy or commenting on the merits of government policy;
- participation will not impose an undue burden on members of the judiciary;
- members of the judiciary will not be identified in any reports;
- the researcher undertakes to provide the members of the senior judiciary already mentioned, and the members of the judiciary involved in the research, with a final draft copy of any report in order to give them an opportunity to comment upon it – before a report is published; and
- members of the judiciary will not be asked about the merits of individual cases. Any application should set out how it is considered the research proposal meets the above criteria. If the research project is approved the judicial officer holders concerned may be informed of the project by the relevant senior judge, or the senior judge may provide a letter of support to the researcher.
Please submit requests to: email@example.com
Non-judicial involvement in research applications
For all judicial research projects that do not involve judicial involvement, i.e. research proposals that gather data/information from the courts/tribunals (including gaining access to case files), have court/tribunal staff complete questionnaires or be interviewed and as part of a proposed research project, the requests should then be directed to Umesh Mistry HMCTS – Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service in the first instance (see below).
Research applicants using the Data Access Panel (DAP) format and seeking the MoJ research unit oversight, or early review of a research application for judicial research should contact HMCTS direct by writing to:
Umesh Mistry, 1st Floor, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ
Please consider the following Ministry of guidance relating to research request: