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Magistrates serve as justices in magistrates' court. Two groups are recognized: Justices of the Peace, and District Judges (formally called 'stipendiary magistrates').

Justices of the Peace (JPs)

JPs are lay people of good character who serve on the Bench without payment (although they may be able to claim expenses). They are appointed by the Lord Chancellor. There are about 20,000 JPs in England and Wales.

District Judges ('stipendiary magistrates')

District Judges -- formally called 'stipendiary magistrates' -- are legal professional -- barristers or solicitors of at least 7 years' standing -- who carry out similar work to JPs. Apart from the fact that they are paid, they differ from JPs in that they are empowered to sit alone on cases that would require two JPs. Most District Judges sit in London.