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The Magistracy

The Lord Lieutenant's role within the Magistracy

The History

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The role of Justices of The Peace was created in 1361 and continues to this day. It is an ancient office that provides local justice for local citizens. Magistrates are drawn from people of good character who are required to sit in judgement on their peers. Traditionally the Lord-Lieutenant was responsible to the Crown for enforcing law and order and held the power to appoint Justices of the Peace to The Magistrates Bench, a traditional term for the Panel of Magistrates, within his County.  He is Custos Rotulorum or Master of the Rolls.

The Magistracy Today

Today the Lord-Lieutenant chairs the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Panel on the Magistracy for Devon and Cornwall and is also Chairman of the Cornwall sub-Committee. The task of these committees is to select suitable people from those who volunteer to join the Bench from a wide variety of walks of life. In Cornwall there are currently approximately 95 Justices of the Peace, who sit in Magistrates’ Courts in Truro and Bodmin. Justices of the Peace are expected to sit for a minimum of 26 sessions a year, the equivalent of 13 days as there are two sessions a day. The role is unpaid, but expenses are given.


The Advisory Panel will call for volunteers to fill vacancies as they become available. Those interested in applying to become a Magistrate can find further information from

Successful applicants will be sworn in a ceremony before a Judge and the Lord-Lieutenant at Truro Crown Court. This is followed by a period of training before new Magistrates are qualified to sit in Court.

The Lord-Lieutenant would encourage anyone who feels they have the ability to rise to the challenge, particularly from younger and traditionally underepresented sections of society, to volunteer themselves for this fulfilling and worthwhile responsibility to the community of Cornwall.