Search Legislation

Supreme Court Act 1981


This is the original version (as it was originally enacted).

  1. Introductory Text


    1. The Supreme Court

      1. 1.The Supreme Court

    2. The Court of Appeal

      1. 2.The Court of Appeal

      2. 3.Divisions of Court of Appeal

    3. The High Court

      1. 4.The High Court

      2. 5.Divisions of High Court

      3. 6.The Patents, Admiralty and Commercial Courts

      4. 7.Power to alter Divisions or transfer certain courts to different Divisions

    4. The Crown Court

      1. 8.The Crown Court

    5. Other provisions

      1. 9.Assistance for transaction of judicial business of Supreme Court

      2. 10.Appointment of judges of Supreme Court

      3. 11.Tenure of office of judges of Supreme Court

      4. 12.Salaries etc. of judges of Supreme Court

      5. 13.Precedence of judges of Supreme Court

      6. 14.Power of judge of Supreme or Crown Court to act in cases relating to rates and taxes

  3. Part II JURISDICTIONThe Court of Appeal

    1. 15.General jurisdiction of Court of Appeal

    2. 16.Appeals from High Court

    3. 17.Applications for new trial

    4. 18.Restrictions on appeals to Court of Appeal

    5. The High Court General jurisdiction

      1. 19.General jurisdiction of High Court

    6. Admiralty jurisdiction

      1. 20.Admiralty jurisdiction of High Court

      2. 21.Mode of exercise of Admiralty jurisdiction

      3. 22.Restrictions on entertainment of actions in personam in collision and other similar cases

      4. 23.High Court not to have jurisdiction in cases within Rhine Convention

      5. 24.Supplementary provisions as to Admiralty jurisdiction

    7. Other particular fields of jurisdiction

      1. 25.Probate jurisdiction of High Court

      2. 26.Matrimonial jurisdiction of High Court

      3. 27.Prize jurisdiction of High Court

      4. 28.Appeals from Crown Court and inferior courts

      5. 29.Orders of mandamus, prohibition and certiorari

      6. 30.Injunctions to restrain persons from acting in offices in which they are not entitled to act

      7. 31.Application for judicial review

    8. Powers

      1. 32.Orders for interim payment

      2. 33.Powers of High Court exercisable before commencement of action

      3. 34.Power of High Court to order disclosure of documents, inspection of property etc. in proceedings for personal injuries or death

      4. 35.Provisions supplementary to ss. 33 and 34

      5. 36.Subpoena issued by High Court to run throughout United Kingdom

      6. 37.Powers of High Court with respect to injunctions and receivers

      7. 38.Relief against forfeiture for non-payment of rent

      8. 39.Execution of instrument by person nominated by High Court

      9. 40.Attachment of debts

      10. 41.Wards of court

      11. 42.Restriction of vexatious legal proceedings

      12. 43.Power of High Court to vary sentence on certiorari

    9. Other provisions

      1. 44.Extraordinary functions of judges of High Court

      2. 45.General jurisdiction of Crown Court

      3. 46.Exclusive jurisdiction of Crown Court in trial on indictment

      4. 47.Sentences and other orders of Crown Court when dealing with offenders

      5. 48.Appeals to Crown Court

    10. Law and equity

      1. 49.Concurrent administration of law and equity

      2. 50.Power to award damages as well as, or in substitution for, injunction or specific performance

    11. Costs

      1. 51.Costs in civil division of Court of Appeal and High Court

      2. 52.Costs in Crown Court

  4. Part III PRACTICE AND PROCEDUREThe Court of Appeal

    1. Distribution of business

      1. 53.Distribution of business between civil and criminal divisions

    2. Composition of court

      1. 54.Court of civil division

      2. 55.Court of criminal division

      3. 56.Judges not to sit on appeal from their own judgments, etc.

    3. Sittings and vacations

      1. 57.Sittings and vacations

    4. Other provisions

      1. 58.Exercise of incidental jurisdiction in civil division

      2. 59.Form of judgment of court of criminal division

      3. 60.Rules of court, and decisions of Court of Appeal, as to whether judgment or order is final or interlocutory

    5. Distribution of business

      1. 61.Distribution of business among Divisions

      2. 62.Business of Patents, Admiralty and Commercial Courts

      3. 63.Business assigned to specially nominated judges

      4. 64.Choice of Division by plaintiff

      5. 65.Power of transfer

    6. Divisional courts

      1. 66.Divisional courts of High Court

    7. Mode of conducting business

      1. 67.Proceedings in court or in chambers

      2. 68.Exercise of High Court jurisdiction otherwise than by judges of that court

      3. 69.Trial by jury

      4. 70.Assessors and scientific advisers

    8. Sittings and vacations

      1. 71.Sittings and vacations

    9. Other provisions

      1. 72.Withdrawal of privilege against incrimination of self or spouse in certain proceedings

    10. Composition of court

      1. 73.General provisions

      2. 74.Appeals and committals for sentence

    11. Distribution of business

      1. 75.Allocation of cases according to composition of court, etc.

      2. 76.Committal for trial: alteration of place of trial

      3. 77.Committal for trial: date of trial

    12. Sittings

      1. 78.Sittings

    13. Other provisions

      1. 79.Practice and procedure in connection with indictable offences and appeals

      2. 80.Process to compel appearance

      3. 81.Bail

      4. 82.Duties of officers of Crown Court

      5. 83.Right of audience for solicitors

      6. 84.Power to make rules of court

      7. 85.The Supreme Court Rule Committee

      8. 86.The Crown Court Rule Committee

      9. 87.Particular matters for which rules of court may provide


    1. Appointment of certain officers of Supreme Court

      1. 88.Qualification for office

      2. 89.Masters and registrars

      3. 90.Official Solicitor

      4. 91.Deputies and temporary appointments

    2. Other provisions relating to officers of Supreme Court

      1. 92.Tenure of office

      2. 93.Status of officers for purposes of salary and pension

      3. 94.Officers not to practise as barristers or solicitors

      4. 95.Property held by officers

    3. Central Office and Accountant General

      1. 96.Central Office

      2. 97.Accountant General

    4. Judges' clerks and secretaries

      1. 98.Judges' clerks and secretaries

    5. District registries and district registrars

      1. 99.District registries

      2. 100.District registrars

      3. 101.Power of one district registrar to act for another

      4. 102.Deputy district registrars

      5. 103.Assistant district registrars

    6. District probate registries

      1. 104.District probate registries


    1. Procedure in probate registries in relation to grants of representation

      1. 105.Applications

      2. 106.Grants by district probate registrars

      3. 107.No grant where conflicting applications

      4. 108.Caveats

      5. 109.Refusal of grant where capital transfer tax unpaid

      6. 110.Documents to be delivered to Commissioners of Inland Revenue

      7. 111.Records of grants

    2. Powers of court in relation to personal representatives

      1. 112.Summons to executor to prove or renounce

      2. 113.Power of court to sever grant

      3. 114.Number of personal representatives

      4. 115.Grants to trust corporations

      5. 116.Power of court to pass over prior claims to grant

      6. 117.Administration pending suit

      7. 118.Effect of appointment of minor as executor

      8. 119.Administration with will annexed

      9. 120.Power to require administrators to produce sureties

    3. Revocation of grants and cancellation of resealing at instance of court

      1. 121.Revocation of grants and cancellation of resealing at instance of court

    4. Ancillary powers of court

      1. 122.Examination of person with knowledge of testamentary document

      2. 123.Subpoena to bring in testamentary document

    5. Provisions as to documents

      1. 124.Place for deposit of original wills and other documents

      2. 125.Copies of wills and grants

      3. 126.Depositories for wills of living persons

    6. Probate rules

      1. 127.Probate rules

    7. Interpretation of Part V and other probate provisions

      1. 128.Interpretation of Part V and other probate provisions


    1. Miscellaneous provisions

      1. 129.Lords Commissioners to represent Lord Chancellor when Great Seal in commission

      2. 130.Fees to be taken in Supreme Court

      3. 131.Conveyancing counsel of Supreme Court

      4. 132.Proof of documents bearing seal or stamp of Supreme Court or any office thereof

      5. 133.Enrolment and engrossment of instruments

      6. 134.Powers of attorney deposited before October 1971

      7. 135.Bonds given under order of court

      8. 136.Production of documents filed in, or in custody of, Supreme Court

      9. 137.Money paid into court under enactment subsequently repealed

      10. 138.Effect of writs of execution against goods

      11. 139.Attachment of National Savings Bank deposits

      12. 140.Enforcement of fines and forfeited recognizances

      13. 141.Abolition of certain writs

      14. 142.Selection of judges for trial of election petitions

      15. 143.Expenses of Lord Chancellor in administering funds in court

      16. 144.Amendment of Part VIII of Mental Health Act 1959

      17. 145.Amendment of Courts-Martial (Appeals) Act 1968

      18. 146.Amendment of Courts Act 1971

      19. 147.Amendment of Solicitors Act 1974

      20. 148.Amendment of Arbitration Act 1979

      21. 149.Amendment of law relating to county courts

    2. Supplementary

      1. 150.Admiralty jurisdiction: provisions as to Channel Islands, Isle of Man, colonies etc.

      2. 151.Interpretation of this Act, and rules of construction for other Acts and documents

      3. 152.Amendments of other Acts, transitional provisions, savings and repeals

      4. 153.Citation, commencement and extent

  8. Schedules

    1. Schedule 1

      Distribution of Business in High Court

      1. Chancery Division

        1. 1.To the Chancery Division are assigned all causes and matters...

      2. Queen's Bench Division

        1. 2.To the Queen's Bench Division are assigned—

      3. Family Division

        1. 3.To the Family Division are assigned— (a) all matrimonial causes...

    2. Schedule 2

      List of Offices in Supreme Court for Purposes of Part IV

      Part I

    3. Schedule 3

      Amendments of County Courts Act 1959

      1. 1.For section 18(1) (appointment of registrars) substitute—

      2. 2.(1) For sections 22 (whole-time registrars and assistant registrars) and...

      3. 3.For section 40 (money recoverable by statute) substitute— Money recoverable...

      4. 4.In section 56 (Admiralty jurisdiction)— (a) in subsection (1)(f), for...

      5. 5.For section 57 substitute— Mode of exercise of Admiralty jurisdiction....

      6. 6.For section 73 substitute— Persons who may exercise jurisdiction. (1) Any jurisdiction and powers conferred by this or any...

      7. 7.For section 75 substitute— Ancillary powers of judge. A judge shall have jurisdiction in any pending proceedings to...

      8. 8.After section 75 insert— Transfer of proceedings from High Court...

      9. 9.In section 87(1) (persons who may take affidavits in county...

      10. 10.For section 94(3) (trial by jury) substitute—

      11. 11.After section 101 insert— Interest on judgment debts etc. 101...

      12. 12.For subsection (3)(c) of section 102 (county court rules) substitute—...

      13. 13.In section 106(1) (removal of action of replevin to High...

      14. 14.For section 108 substitute— Appeals general provisions. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section and the...

      15. 17.In section 124 (goods which may be seized) after subsection...

      16. 18.Before section 134 insert— Effect of warrants of execution. (1) Subject— (a) to subsection (2) of this section ;...

      17. 19.In section 135 (sale of goods where claim made therein)—...

      18. 20.In section 138 (execution out of jurisdiction of court) insert...

      19. 21.After section 138 insert— Information as to writs and warrants...

      20. 23.For paragraph (g) of section 168 (payment of funds into...

      21. 24.In section 172 (provision as to closed accounts)—

      22. 25.In section 174 (transfer to county court of money recovered...

      23. 26.After section 174 insert— Transfer to High Court of money...

      24. 27.In section 186 (proof of service of summons, &c.)—

      25. 28.Before section 200 insert— Lords Commissioners to represent Lord Chancellor...

      26. 29.In section 201 (interpretation)— (a) after the definition of "...

    4. Schedule 4

      Construction of References to Superseded Courts and Officers

      1. General

        1. 1.(1) So much of any enactment as refers or relates...

      2. The Accountants-General of the Courts of Chancery and Exchequer

        1. 2.Any enactment or document referring to the Accountant-General of the...

      3. The Court of Criminal Appeal and its registrar

        1. 3.In any enactment or document passed or made before 1st...

      4. Principal registrar of Family Division

        1. 4.In any enactment or document passed or made before the...

    5. Schedule 5

      Consequential Amendments C

      1. a.for " principal registrar " substitute Senior Registrar ; and...

      2. b.for the words from "made under" onwards substitute of court...

      3. a.for " (1) of section one hundred and sixty of...

      4. b.after " must " insert in general ; and

      5. c.for " (2) of the said section one hundred and...

      6. a.with the substitution of is under all the circumstances of...

      7. b.with the substitution of there was a material irregularity in...

      8. c.with the addition at the end of the following proviso—...

      9. 2.In section 14(3), for " 8 " substitute 9 ....

    6. Schedule 6

      Transitional Provisions and Savings

      1. Continuance in office of Vice-Chancellor

        1. 1.On and after the date of commencement of this Act...

      2. Continuity of appointments of officers

        1. 2.(1) Any person holding an office immediately before the commencement...

      3. Tenure, etc. of certain officers

        1. 3.(1) In relation to any person who held the office...

        2. 4.(1) If, in the case of any person holding the...

        3. 5.This Act, so far as it amends or repeals any...

      4. Scheme for establishment of district probate registries

        1. 6.The scheme for the establishment of district probate registries as...

      5. Inland Revenue affidavits

        1. 7.In relation to deaths occurring before 13th March 1975 (the...

      6. Grants of representation made under provisions of 1925 Act not reproduced in this Act

        1. 8.Nothing in the repeals made by this Act shall affect—...

      7. Minor executors

        1. 9.Any appointment of a minor as executor which, immediately before...

      8. Administration bonds given before 1st January 1972

        1. 10.Nothing in this Act shall affect the continued operation of...

      9. Grants and resealings liable to revocation or cancellation at instance of court

        1. 11.Section 121 applies whether the grant in question was made...

      10. Appeals from certain orders and decisions under section 54(3) of Magistrates' Courts Act 1952

        1. 12.In paragraph 3(d) of Schedule 1, the reference to an...

      11. Interpretation

        1. 13.(1) In this Schedule "the 1925 Act" means the Supreme...

    7. Schedule 7


Back to top


Print Options

You have chosen to open The Whole Act

The Whole Act you have selected contains over 200 provisions and might take some time to download. You may also experience some issues with your browser, such as an alert box that a script is taking a long time to run.

Would you like to continue?

You have chosen to open The Whole Act as a PDF

The Whole Act you have selected contains over 200 provisions and might take some time to download.

Would you like to continue?

You have chosen to open the Whole Act

The Whole Act you have selected contains over 200 provisions and might take some time to download. You may also experience some issues with your browser, such as an alert box that a script is taking a long time to run.

Would you like to continue?


Legislation is available in different versions:

Latest Available (revised):The latest available updated version of the legislation incorporating changes made by subsequent legislation and applied by our editorial team. Changes we have not yet applied to the text, can be found in the ‘Changes to Legislation’ area.

Original (As Enacted or Made):The original version of the legislation as it stood when it was enacted or made. No changes have been applied to the text.


Opening Options

Different options to open legislation in order to view more content on screen at once


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources

More Resources

Use this menu to access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • correction slips

Click 'View More' or select 'More Resources' tab for additional information including:

  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • links to related legislation and further information resources