Magistrates will have to declare if they are Freemasons, under a policy introduced by the Magistrates' Association.
In a council meeting last week, members of the association voted that would-be magistrates should have to declare membership of the Freemasons on their application forms. But they had no objection in principle to Freemason magistrates.
Existing magistrates will also have to declare allegiance to the secret society.
The meeting also saw the election of Anne Fuller as association chair. Fuller, former deputy chair, stood against former honorary treasurer David Baker, and won a close vote.
She is replacing Rosemary Thomson, who stood down last week after a maximum three-year term in office. Thomson was renowned for raising the profile of the association, and a spokeswoman predicted Fuller would seek to delegate more.
Roy Taylor from Warwickshire and Brian Worster-Davis from Merseyside were elected as deputy chairs.
Fuller said: “At the start of the next millennium the magistracy must be strong and secure and recognised by all as fulfiling an essential role.”