The Chief Justice is the name for the presiding member of a supreme court in many countries with a justice system based on English common law, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong, the Supreme Court of India, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Supreme Court of Nepal, the Supreme Court of Ireland, the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the High Court of Australia, the Supreme Court of the United States, and provincial or state supreme courts.
The situation is slightly different in the three legal jurisdictions within the United Kingdom. The courts of England and Wales are headed by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales; in Northern Ireland's courts, the equivalent position is the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland and in Scottish courts, the equivalent is the Lord President of the Court of Session. These three judges are not, though, part of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which operates across all three jurisdictions and is headed by the President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
The Chief Justice can be selected in many ways, but, in many nations, the position is given to the most senior justice of the court, while, in the United States, it is often the President's most important political nomination, subject to approval by the United States Senate. Although the title of this top American jurist is, by statute, Chief Justice of the United States, the term "Chief Justice of the Supreme Court" is often used unofficially.
In some courts, the Chief Justice has a different title, e.g. President of the Supreme Court. In other courts, the title of Chief Justice is used, but the court has a different name, e.g. the Supreme Court of Judicature in colonial (British) Ceylon, and the Maryland Court of Appeals (in the US state of Maryland).
The Chief Justice is often responsible for serving as the leader during private deliberations and is often first to voice an opinion. However, most supreme courts are non-hierarchical, so the Chief Justice does not necessarily have direct control over the actions of the other judges, and the Chief Justice's personal ruling is equal in weight to the rulings of any associate judges on the court.
In several countries, the Chief Justice is second in line to the office of President or Governor General (or third in line, if there is a Vice President or Lieutenant Governor General), should the incumbent die or resign. For example, if the Governor General of Canada is unable to perform his or her duties, the Chief Justice of Canada performs the duties of the Governor General.
Apart from their intrinsic role in litigation, they may have additional responsibilities, such as "swearing in" high officers of state; for instance, the Chief Justice of the United States traditionally administers the oath of office at the inauguration ceremony of the President of the United States, as does the Chief Justice of South Africa at the inauguration of the President of South Africa.
List of Chief Justice positions
- Bailiff of Guernsey
- Bailiff of Jersey
- Chief Justice of Albania
- Chief Justice of Australia
- Chief Justice of Bangladesh
- Chief Justice of Belize
- Chief Justice of Canada
- Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Estonia
- Chief Justice of Fiji
- Chief Justice of Hong Kong
- Chief Justice of Hungary
- Chief Justice of India
- Chief Justice of Ireland
- Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya
- Chief Justice of the Republic of Korea
- Chief Justice of Liberia
- Chief Justice of Malta
- Chief Justice of Malaysia
- Chief Justice of the Federated States of Micronesia
- Chief Justice of Namibia
- Chief Justice of Nepal
- Chief Justice of New Zealand
- Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
- Chief Justice of Norway
- Chief Justice of Pakistan
- Chief Justices of the Federal Shariat Court
- Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
- Chief Justice of Singapore
- Chief Justice of Sri Lanka
- Chief Justice of South Africa
- Chief Justice of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan Da Chuna
- Chief Justice of Tanzania
- Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago
- Chief Justice of Zanzibar
- Chief Justice of the United States
- Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
- Lord President of the Court of Session
- Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland
- Associate justice
- Puisne judge
- Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
- President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
- Lord President
- Chief judge