Court Administrative Officer

The Job and What's Involved

Court administrative officers play an essential role in making sure that the business of a court runs smoothly.

The UK has two legal systems.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland:

  • Magistrates' courts hear most criminal cases.
  • County courts hear most civil cases.
  • Crown courts hear serious criminal cases and appeals from magistrates' courts.
  • Higher courts include the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

In Scotland:

  • Magistrates hear minor criminal cases in district courts.
  • Sheriff courts are the main lower courts, hearing both civil and criminal cases.
  • The High Court of the Judiciary is the highest criminal court.
  • The Court of Session is the highest or supreme civil court.

The House of Lords is the highest court in the land and covers England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Job descriptions vary according to the type of court and department where they work, but a court administrative officer's duties may include:

  • Setting dates and times for cases to be heard in the court.
  • Sending letters ordering people to appear in court on a certain date.
  • Listing the day's cases and making sure the judge has the relevant papers.
  • Making sure that all the relevant people get the paperwork they need for a case.
  • Allocating cases to court rooms and informing the court officers so they can direct people to the right place at the right time.
  • Informing legal personnel of new developments, for example letting them know that someone who was expected in court is not going to attend.
  • Making sure that appropriate court costs are paid by the defendant and prosecutor (this is not part of the job description in Scotland).
  • Following up judgments made in court, for example issuing orders and collecting fines.
  • Dealing with incoming mail and filing documents.
  • Answering enquiries face-to-face and on the telephone.
  • Collecting statistics and inputting data on a computer.

Court administrative officers usually work around 37 hours a week. Occasionally, it may be necessary to work additional hours if a special hearing is held in the evening or over the weekend. Part-time work and flexible working may be available.

Court administrative officers are usually office based. They spend most of their time working at a desk.

Starting salaries may be around £13,770 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Court administrative officers are employed in courts in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers and Jobcentre Plus offices, and on the websites of HM Courts Service (for England and Wales), the Scottish Court Service, and the Northern Ireland Court Service.

Education and Training

Entry requirements vary from court to court. As a guide, candidates may need five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) or equivalent qualifications. English is required for vacancies in HM Courts Service. Candidates without these qualifications, but with relevant administrative experience may also be considered.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

An increasing number of successful applicants have A levels/H grades or equivalent.

Experienced court administrative officers may be promoted to more senior posts.

With additional training, it may be possible to become a legal executive.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A court administrative officer should:

  • Have good communication skills.
  • Be able to work with people from a wide range of different backgrounds.
  • Have good customer service skills.
  • Be patient, tactful and polite, and able to deal professionally with difficult situations.
  • Be able to explain procedures to people with no knowledge of the court system.
  • Be discreet when dealing with confidential information.
  • Be well organised.
  • Be able to work quickly, accurately and methodically.
  • Be able to work as part of a team, as well as on their own initiative.
  • Have good computer and numerical skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

Efficient, experienced court administrative officers are likely to gain promotion. Some train to become legal executives.

In some courts there is the opportunity for promotion to more senior administrative positions.

Get Further Information

HM Courts & Tribunals Service

Northern Ireland Court Service,
Information Centre, Windsor House,
9-15 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7LT
Tel: 028 9032 8594

Scottish Court Service (SCS),
Saughton House, Broomhouse Drive Edinburgh EH11 3XD
Tel: 0131 4443300

Skills for Justice, Centre Court, Atlas Way, Sheffield S4 7QQ
Tel: 0114 261 1499

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