Bench (law)

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A judge's bench in a courtroom in Beechworth, Victoria, Australia. The term "bench" is also used as a metonym to mean all the judges of a certain court or members of a judiciary.
The Supreme Court of Japan Grand Bench seats 15 justices.

Bench in legal contexts means simply the location in a courtroom where a judge sits. The historical roots of that meaning come from the fact that judges formerly sat on long seats or benches (freestanding or against a wall) when presiding over a court.[1] In modern courtrooms, the bench is usually an elevated desk area that allows a judge to view the entire courtroom (see photo at right).

But the word also has a broader meaning in the law – the term "bench" is a metonym used to describe members of the judiciary collectively, or the judges of a particular court, such as the Queen's Bench or the Common Bench in England and Wales, or the federal bench in the United States.[1] The term is also used when all the judges of a certain court sit together to decide a case, as in the phrase "before the full bench" (also called "en banc").[2] Additionally, the term is used to differentiate judges ("the bench") from attorneys or barristers ("the bar"). The phrase "bench and bar" denotes all judges and lawyers collectively.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Walker, David (1980). Oxford Companion to Law. Oxford University Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-19-866110-X. 
  2. ^ Black, Henry Campbell (1990). Black's Law Dictionary, 6th ed. St. Paul, MN.: West Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 0-314-76271-X.