A thousand solicitors and barristers who would have been eliminated from the recorder appointment competition but for a meltdown of the Judicial Appointments Commission’s (JAC) website on Wednesday  have instead got through to the next round.
In light of the website crashing, the JAC has announced that all candidates – nearly 2,500 – will take the second-round test.
The original intention had been that only the 60% of candidates with the highest marks would go on to the stage two test.
In a statement issued yesterday, the JAC said its chief executive had emailed all recorder candidates to apologise for the technical difficulties they experienced in taking the online qualifying test, and the distress and inconvenience this caused.
“In light of these problems, we have decided to invite all candidates to proceed to the second stage (written scenario test) of this multi-stage selection process. The test will take place during the week beginning 6 March and we will contact candidates to confirm exact arrangements.”
It may well have taken this step because some candidates did see at least some of the questions before the website went down.
The JAC has not provided any explanation as to why the weight of traffic caused the website to crash shortly after the six-hour window for taking the test opened – given that it knew how many candidates would be trying to access it – nor set out how it will ensure it does not happen again next time. Once more the plan is for candidates to have a six-hour window in which to take the test, which will last for 70 minutes.
The problems are a huge embarrassment to the JAC, especially in light of its vice-chairman, Lord Justice Burnett, declaring last month that “we are as confident as we can be” that IT problems that beset the previous recorder competition in 2015 had been ironed out.
However, by deciding not to repeat the stage one test, the JAC does at least stay within the timetable it has set to complete the whole four-stage process.