Our thanks to the team at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) for this report of our recent Careers in Ideas event about the roles of the “Appointed Persons”. We are grateful to them for helping to organise and host the event, and also to the Judicial Appointments Commission for valuable input both on the day and in the planning.
The IPO write:
On 22 September 2021, an array of senior IP figures, including Appointed Persons (APs) and members of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), gathered together to explain how the selection process for new APs (and judicial appointments in IP in general) aims to promote inclusivity and a diverse judicial workforce. APs are an appellant body which hears and decides appeals from first instance trade mark and design decisions reached by the UK IPO Tribunal. Each AP sits around 10 days per year.
The online event, organised by IP Inclusive and aimed at IP professionals, was opened by the Honourable Mr Justice Meade, who underlined the importance of the role of APs in both relieving the judicial burden on the High Court and providing a more cost-effective appeal route for parties.
Attendees were privileged to hear from two members of the JAC: Brie Stevens-Hoare QC, a barrister and part-time judge; and Claire Thurlow, responsible for stakeholder engagement and diversity. Ms Stevens-Hoare explained that the issue of diversity had been incorporated into the structure of the selection process as a criterion to be considered in respect of every application for appointment after the statutory criteria of merit and good character had been satisfied. Diversity is at the forefront of JAC Commissioners’ minds in relation to every activity undertaken by the JAC; indeed its 15-strong membership, comprising a mixture of judicial, professional and lay persons with differing relationships to the law, reflects the diversity that it so champions. Among the measures taken to promote diversity in the selection process are: “name-blind shortlisting”, “reasonable adjustments”, “targeted outreach”, and the “monitored progression of target groups”, ie women, BAME candidates, disabled candidates and solicitors/trade mark attorneys as opposed to barristers.
Ms Thurlow gave a useful insight into the competencies that candidates are expected to demonstrate. She encouraged prospective candidates to thoroughly research the role, including marshalling judges, as well as building a portfolio of examples of their work to demonstrate the required competencies for the role that they seek. The JAC website has many resources to help candidates prepare to apply and there are a number of excellent initiatives offering invaluable assistance, including the Pre-Application Judicial Education Programme (PAJE) and a Judicial Mentoring Scheme. The JAC also offers the opportunity to be a “dry run candidate” by volunteering to test the materials for other competitions, which is, arguably, the best possible practice for a “real life” application in future competitions.
To round off the event, an impressive panel of Appointed Persons, comprising Daniel Alexander QC, Professor Ruth Annand, Emma Himsworth QC, Tom Mitcheson QC and Dr Brian Whitehead, were on hand to answer attendees’ questions and share their advice, in both a panel Q&A session and smaller breakout discussions.