FAMILY courts across Cheshire and Merseyside are seeking new magistrates to play their part in helping families – and you could get involved.

Family magistrates have traditionally been required to first sit in the adult criminal court, but applications are now open to all.

The family courts are based at Crewe and Chester, with the Merseyside court is based in Liverpool.

The Ministry of Justice has announced 50 new vacancies to be filled across the two counties and the hunt is now on for volunteers to assist in the administration of justice.

Magistrates come from all sorts of backgrounds and are advised by a qualified legal advisor in court.

A detailed knowledge of the law is not necessary, but an ability to apply common sense, empathy and compassion is paramount in the family court.

Family court cases vary from private law matters where individuals bring forward matters themselves, and public law where a council has sought judicial input.

Family magistrate Dan Longman said: “The work of the family court is showing no signs of letting up.

"Every day we are dealing with children and their families who are in need of support and careful intervention.

"Volunteering as a family magistrate is very fulfilling and we make a real, positive difference to children’s lives, but we need more magistrates to assist.

"We sit as a panel of three and have a range of excellent legal advisors to advise on the options available under the law.

"There is usually a fair bit of reading, but it’s necessary to get a full understanding of the situation.

"Our decisions can have truly life-changing consequences.”

Those interested in the role will be expected to be aged between 18 and 65, be able to commit to at least 13 days per year, and also engage in a number of mandatory training days.

Magistrates are reimbursed for travel expenses and subsistence is provided.

The magistracy welcomes people who represent communities from all backgrounds with various degrees of experience.

The Cheshire & Merseyside Advisory Committee are urging people to get involved and apply before the deadline of Saturday, November 30.