Blog Archive

Saturday, November 17, 2007

High Court of Justice
For the Cameroonian court by this name, see High Court of Justice (Cameroon), for the Israeli court of this name, see Supreme Court of Israel. The Court of First Instance of Hong Kong was also known as the High Court of Justice before 1997.
For the English Civil War court, see High Court of Justice for the trial of Charles I.
Law of England and Wales This article is part of the series: Courts of England and Wales
Ministry of Justice

Secretary of State for Justice
Her Majesty's Courts Service
Civil courts
Privy Council
House of Lords

Lords of Appeal in Ordinary
Court of Appeal

Master of the Rolls
Lord Justice of Appeal
High Court of Justice

Chancellor of the High Court
President of the Queen's Bench
President of the Family Division
High Court judge
County Courts

County Court Bulk Centre
District Judge
Criminal courts
House of Lords

Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
Court of Appeal

Lord Chief Justice
Lord Justice of Appeal
High Court of Justice

President of the Queen's Bench
High Court judge
Crown Court

Circuit Judge
Magistrates' Court

District Judge
Justice of the Peace
Criminal justice
Attorney General
Director of Public Prosecutions

Crown Prosecution Service
Barristers and solicitors
Bar Council

Law Society of England and Wales


Solicitor Advocate
Her Majesty's High Court of Justice (usually known more simply as the High Court) is, together with the Crown Court and the Court of Appeal, part of the Supreme Court of Judicature of England and Wales (which under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, is to be known as the Senior Courts of England and Wales).
It deals at first instance with all the most high value and high importance cases, and also has a supervisory jurisdiction over all subordinate courts and tribunals. Appeal from the High Court in civil matters lies to the Court of Appeal and thence to the House of Lords, except when the High Court is sitting as a Prize Court when appeal lies to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The High Court is based at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand, in central London. However, it also sits as 'District Registries' all across England and Wales and virtually all proceedings in the High Court may be issued and heard at a district registry. It is headed by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. By convention, all of its male judges are made Knights Bachelor, while all of its female ones are made Dames Commander of the British Empire.
The High Court is split into three main divisions: the Queen's Bench Division, the Chancery Division and the Family Division. The Supreme Court Costs Office is the part of the High Court that deals with legal costs and falls outside these divisions.

Chancery Division
The Family Division deals with matters such as divorce, children, probate and medical treatment. Its decisions may concern life and death and are perhaps inevitably regarded as controversial. For example, it permitted a hospital to separate conjoined twins without the parents' consent; and allowed one woman to have her life support machines turned off, while not permitting a husband to give his severely disabled wife a lethal injection with her consent. The High Court Family Division has jurisdiction to hear all cases relating to children's welfare and interest, and exercises an exclusive jurisdiction in wardship cases. The head of the Family Division is the President of the Family Division Sir Mark Potter. Its most senior court is the Principal Registry of the Family Division which is based in First Avenue House, Holborn, London.
The Family Division is comparatively modern, having been formed by combining the Admiralty Court and probate courts into the then Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court, or Wills, Wrecks and Wives as it was informally called.

Historically, the source of all justice in England was the monarch. All judges sit in judgement on her behalf (hence why they have the royal coat of arms behind them) and criminal prosecutions made by the state are generally made on her behalf. Historically, local lords were permitted to administer justice in Manorial Courts and other ways. Inevitably, the justice administered was patchy and appeals were made direct to the King. The King's travelling representatives (whose primary purpose was tax collection) acted on behalf of the king to make the administration of justice more even. The tradition of judges travelling in set areas of the country or 'circuits' remains to this day, where they hear cases in the district registries of the High Court.
It is also on behalf of the monarch that the Queen's Bench Division oversees all lesser courts and all government authority. Generally, unless other appeal processes are laid down in law, anyone who wants to challenge any decision of a lesser court, tribunal, government authority or state authority brings a claim for judicial review in the Queen's Bench Division. This is a special procedure in the Administrative Court of the Queen's Bench Division. A single judge first decides whether the matter is fit to bring to the court (to weed out frivolous or unwinnable cases) and if so the matter is allowed to go forward to a full judicial review hearing. This is not a jury matter. Appeals are to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) and then to the House of Lords, or in criminal matters, directly to the House of Lords.

No comments: