Senior Courts Act 1981
|Long title||An Act to consolidate with amendments the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act 1925 and other enactments relating to the Supreme Court of England and Wales and the administration of justice therein; to repeal certain obsolete or unnecessary enactments so relating; to amend Part VIII of the Mental Health Act 1959, the Courts-Martial (Appeals) Act 1968, the Arbitration Act 1979 and the law relating to county courts; and for connected purposes|
|Royal assent||28 July 1981|
|Commencement||1 January 1982|
|Amended by||Courts and Legal Services Act 1990|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Revised text of statute as amended|
The Senior Courts Act 1981, originally named the Supreme Court Act 1981 (c.54), is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act defined in statute the structure of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, now known as the Senior Courts of England and Wales, consisting of the Court of Appeal, High Court of Justice and the Crown Court.
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 established a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on 1 October 2009.
Change of name
To avoid confusion, the Supreme Court Act 1981 was renamed the Senior Courts Act 1981, and all statutory references to the Supreme Court of England and Wales have been amended to refer to the Senior Courts of England and Wales. The former term "Supreme Court" did not mean the 2009 Supreme Court (which, of course, did not exist in 1981), but was shorthand for the "Supreme Court of Judicature", which comprised the "Superior Courts" (as opposed to the "Inferior Courts").
Although the old superior courts are now "senior courts", the inferior courts have not become "junior courts". The adjective "senior" strictly means "older", which seems scarcely appropriate when the Supreme Court is brand new, while the oldest courts are the "junior" County Courts dating from 1840!
The following directions have been given pursuant to section 75(1) by the Lord Chief Justice. They are titled "Classification of the business of the Crown Court and allocation to Crown Court centres":
- Practice Direction  2 All ER 900,  1 WLR 1083 (26 May 1995)
- Practice Direction  3 All ER 384,  1 WLR 1244, CA (30 June 1998)
- Practice Direction  1 All ER 380, CA (Crim) (10 January 2000)
This section replaced section 99 of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act 1925 and section 15 of the Courts Act 1971.
- Civil Procedure (The White Book), Thomson, Sweet & Maxwell
- Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice. 1999. Paragraph 3-8 at page 208.
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