Judiciary of England and Wales

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There are various levels of judiciary in England and Wales — different types of courts have different styles of judges. They also form a strict hierarchy of importance, in line with the order of the courts in which they sit, so that judges of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales are generally given more weight than district judges sitting in county courts and magistrates' courts. At 31 March 2006 there were 1,825 judges in post in England and Wales, most of whom were circuit judges (626) or district judges (572).[1]

By statute, judges are guaranteed continuing judicial independence.[2]

The following is a list of the various types of judges who sit in the Courts of England and Wales:[3]

Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor[edit]

Since 3 April 2006, the Lord Chief Justice has been the overall head of the judiciary. Previously he was second to the Lord Chancellor, but that office lost its judicial functions under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. The Lord Chief Justice is also the head of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal. He was also President of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, but on becoming head of the judiciary that responsibility was transferred to a new office.

Although the Lord Chancellor is no longer a judge, he still exercises disciplinary authority over the judges, jointly with the Lord Chief Justice. He also has a role in appointing judges.

In law reports, the Lord Chief Justice is referred to as (for example) "Smith LCJ" or "Lord Smith CJ", and the Lord Chancellor as "Smith C".

In court, the Lord Chief Justice wears a black damask gown with gold lace along with a short wig during criminal cases and the black civil gown with gold tabs during civil cases. Ceremonially, the Lord Chief Justice wears the red robe with white trim along with a gold chain and full wig.

The Lord Chancellor wears white winged shirt with ruffled collar, black waistcoat, and black coat underneath the black damask gown with gold lace, and black knee-length breeches with black silk stockings, and full-bottomed wig during ceremonial occasions.

Heads of Division[edit]

There are four Heads of Divisions aside from the Lord Chief Justice: the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Queen's Bench Division, the President of the Family Division and the Chancellor of the High Court.

The Master of the Rolls is head of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal. The other Heads are in charge of the three divisions of the High Court.

The Chancellor of the High Court is President of the Chancery Division of the High Court. Until 2006 this role was nominally held by the Lord Chancellor, but was in practice delegated to the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor was renamed Chancellor of the High Court when the Lord Chancellor's judicial role was abolished.

The Heads of Division are referred to in law reports as "Smith MR", "Smith P", "Smith P", and "Smith C" respectively. Vice-Chancellors from pre-2006 Chancery cases were referred to as "Smith VC".

In court, the Heads of Division wear a black damask gown with gold lace along with a short wig during criminal cases and the black civil gown with gold tabs during civil cases. Ceremonially, the Heads of Division wear red gowns with white trim along with full wigs except for the Master of the Rolls who wears the black damask gown with gold lace and full wig.

Court of Appeal[edit]

Three Lords Justices in their ceremonial robes in procession at Llandaff Cathedral in 2013

Judges of the Court of Appeal are known as Lords Justices, and they too are Privy Counsellors. Before swearing in they may be addressed as The Honourable Lord Justice Smith, and after swearing in as the Right Honourable Lord Justice Smith. Female Lord Justices are only known as Lady Justices informally. Addressed as "My Lord" or "My Lady". In law reports, referred to as "Smith LJ", and, for more than one judge, "Smith and Jones LJJ".

Formerly, Lords Justices of Appeal could only be drawn from barristers of at least 10 years' standing.[4] In practice, much greater experience was necessary and, in 2004, calls for increased diversity among the judiciary were recognised and the qualification period was changed[5][6] so that, as of 21 July 2008, a potential Lord Justice of Appeal must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 7-year basis.[7]

The Lord Justices wear black silk gowns and court coats (or bar jackets) and short wigs during criminal cases and the black civil robe with gold tabs for civil cases. For ceremonial occasions, they wear the full wig and black damask gown with gold lace.

High Court[edit]

Main article: High Court judge

High Court judges are not normally Privy Counsellors. High Court judges are therefore referred to as the Honourable Mr/Mrs Justice Smith. Addressed as "My Lord" or "My Lady". In law reports, referred to as "Smith J", and, for more than one judge, "Smith and Jones JJ".

High Court judges normally wear a short wig along with red and black gowns for criminal cases, and a civil robe with red tabs for civil cases. The exception to this is judges of the Family Division who wear formal suits. Ceremonially, all High Court justices wear the red gown with white trim along with a full wig.

Circuit judges[edit]

Main article: Circuit judge (UK)

Circuit judges are referred to as His/Her Honour Judge {surname} e.g. His/Her Honour Judge Smith. If a circuit judge is appointed who has the same surname as another serving circuit judge, he (she) will be referred to as His (Her) Honour Judge {first name} {surname}. e.g. His Honour Judge John Smith. Circuit judges are addressed as "Your Honour", unless sitting in the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey), in which case addressed as "My Lord (Lady)." Senior circuit judges who sit as the honorary recorder of a borough or city are also entitled to be addressed in court as "my lord/lady." In law reports, circuit judges are referred to as "HHJ Smith," or simply, "Judge Smith."

Formerly, circuit judges could only be drawn from barristers of at least ten years' standing.[8] However, in 2004, calls for increased diversity among the judiciary were recognised and the qualification period was changed[5][6] so that, as of 21 July 2008, a potential circuit judge must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a seven-year basis.[7]

For criminal cases, circuit judges wear a violet and purple gown with a red sash and short wig and for civil cases exchange the red sash for a lilac one. Circuit judges sitting in civil proceedings no longer wear wigs, wing collars, or bands. Ceremonially, they wear purple robes with a purple trim and a full wig.

Recorders[edit]

Main article: Recorder (judge)

A recorder is a part-time circuit judge, usually a practising barrister or solicitor. Recorders are addressed in court in the same way as circuit judges (as 'Your Honour'). There is no formal abbreviation for the position and recorders are referred to as 'Mr/Mrs Recorder Smith' (as opposed to circuit judges, who can be referred to as 'HHJ Smith' in judgments, law reports or other legal documents).

Formerly, recorders could only be drawn from barristers of at least 10 years' standing.[9] However, in 2004, calls for increased diversity among the judiciary were recognised and the qualification period was changed[5][6] so that, as of 21 July 2008, a potential circuit judge must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a seven-year basis.[7]

The senior circuit judge in a metropolitan area will often be given the honorary title of the Recorder of the city – e.g. the Recorder of Manchester. Despite still being circuit judges, these recorders are addressed in court as 'Your Lordship/Ladyship' as if they were High Court judges.

Masters and Registrars[edit]

A Master is a level of judge in the High Court lower than that of a High Court judge. They are mainly responsible for case management pre-trial, and cases are then heard at trial by a full High Court judge. Masters (who may be male or female) are addressed simply as Master. Each of the divisions has a senior Master who ranks above the other Masters, and each division has a different title. They are:

The Senior Master of the Queen's Bench Division also holds the ancient judicial post of Queen's Remembrancer (King's Remembrancer when the monarch is male), and is also the Registrar of Election petitions and Foreign judgments as well as being the designated authority for the Hague Service Convention and Hague Evidence Convention and receiving agency under the EU Service Regulation - Council Regulation (EC) No. 1348/2000 and EU Taking of Evidence Regulation - Council Regulation (EC) No. 1206/2001. The Senior Master is assisted in this role as Central Authority by the Foreign Process Section of the Queen's Bench Action Department at the Royal Courts of Justice.

In spite of their title the Bankruptcy Registrars of the High Court sit in Bankruptcy and in the Companies Court. They hear and dispose of almost all the insolvency and companies cases heard in the High Court, including trials (i.e. cases arising under the Insolvency Act 1986, the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, the Companies Acts and related legislation).

Masters and Registrars are not referred to by an abbreviation in the law reports, and appear as "Master Smith" or "Mr/Mrs Registrar Smith".

Formerly, Masters and Registrars could only be drawn from barristers and solicitors of at least 7 years' standing. However, in 2004, calls for increased diversity among the judiciary were recognised and the qualification period was changed[5][6] so that, as of 21 July 2008, a potential Master or Registrar must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 5-year basis.[7]

District judges[edit]

District judge is the title given to two different categories of judges. One group of district judges sit in the county courts, having previously been known as county court registrars until the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. The other group sit in the magistrates' courts and were formerly known as stipendiary magistrates until the Access to Justice Act 1999. Members of this latter group are more formally known as "District Judge (Magistrates' Courts)" (see the Courts Act 2003). Judges in both groups are addressed as "Sir" or "Madam". In law reports, referred to as "DJ Smith".

Formerly, district judges could only be drawn from barristers and solicitors of at least seven years' standing. However, in 2004, calls for increased diversity among the judiciary were recognised and the qualification period was changed[5][6] so that, as of 21 July 2008, a potential district judge must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a five-year basis.[7] From November 2010 other types of lawyer, such as legal executives (ILEX Fellows), also became eligible to be district judges.

The senior district judge is also known as the Chief Magistrate.[10] (currently Howard Riddle)

Deputy district judges[edit]

A practising solicitor or barrister who sits part-time as a district judge (who may be taking his first steps on the route to becoming a full-time district judge). Retired district judges may occasionally sit as deputies. Addressed as "Sir" or "Madam". In law reports, referred to as "DDJ Smith".

Formerly, deputy district judges could only be drawn from barristers and solicitors of at least seven years' standing. However, in 2004, calls for increased diversity among the judiciary were recognised and the qualification period was changed[5][6] so that, as of 21 July 2008, a potential deputy district judge must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 5-year basis[7] and so that other types of lawyer, such as legal executives (ILEX Fellows), would also be eligible. In August 2010 Ian Ashley-Smith became the first CILEx Fellow to be directly appointed as a deputy district judge (Civil).[11]

Magistrates[edit]

Laymen drawn from the community who generally sit in threes in order to give judgment in magistrates' courts and youth courts. Addressed as "Sir" or "Madam" but often addressed as 'Your Worships' by the police and some lawyers. In law reports, referred to as "John Smith JP" (for Justice of the Peace).

Judicial salaries[edit]

There are nine pay points for judges in England and Wales. The following is a simplified list of the salaries with effect from 1 April 2010, showing only the most widely held grades and some of the best known specific appointments. A complete list of all the posts at each pay point can be found on the website of the Ministry of Justice.[12]

Judges also have a pension scheme, which is considered to be one of the most generous in the British public sector.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alex, Allan (October 2006). "Department for Constitutional Affairs". Evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Body. HMSO. pp. 27–30. Retrieved 2007-12-15. 
  2. ^ Constitutional Reform Act 2005, s.3
  3. ^ "Forms of address for the Judiciary". Judiciary of England and Wales. HMSO. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-12-15. 
  4. ^ Supreme Court Act 1981, s.10(3)(b)
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Increasing Diversity in the Judiciary". Department for Constitutional Affairs. October 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-05. "CP 25/04" 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Explanatory Notes to Tribunals, Courts And Enforcement Act 2007". Office of Public Service Information. 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-05. "paras.281-316" 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, s.50/ Sch.10, Pt.1.13
  8. ^ Courts Act 1971, s.16(3)(a)
  9. ^ Courts Act 1971, s.21(2)
  10. ^ "Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) Appointment". Ministry of Justice. 2010-11-08. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  11. ^ "Ian Ashley Smith - Deputy District Judge (Civil)". Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 2013-02-08. 
  12. ^ "Judicial salaries from 1 April 2010". Ministry of Justice. 2010-03-10. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  13. ^ Alex, Allan (October 2006). "Department for Constitutional Affairs". Evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Body. HMSO. p. 5. Retrieved 2007-12-15. 

External links[edit]