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Senior Courts Act 1981

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Senior Courts Act 1981, Cross Heading: The High Court is up to date with all changes known to be in force on or before 23 February 2020. There are changes that may be brought into force at a future date. Changes that have been made appear in the content and are referenced with annotations. Help about Changes to Legislation

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The High CourtE+W

4 The High Court.E+W

(1)The High Court shall consist of—

(a)F1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(b)the Lord Chief Justice;

[F2(ba)the President of the Queen's Bench Division;

(c)the President of the Family Division;

(d)the Chancellor of the High Court;]

[F3(dd)the Senior Presiding Judge]

[F4(ddd)the vice-president of the Queen’s Bench Division;] and

[F5(e)the puisne judges of that court, of whom the maximum full-time equivalent number is 108.]

(2)The puisne judges of the High Court shall be styled “Justices of the High Court”.

(3)All the judges of the High Court shall, except where this Act expressly provides otherwise, have in all respects equal power, authority and jurisdiction.

(4)Her Majesty may by Order in Council from time to time amend subsection (1) so as to increase or further increase the [F6maximum full-time equivalent number] of puisne judges of the High Court.

[F7(4A)It is for the Lord Chancellor to recommend to Her Majesty the making of an Order under subsection (4).]

(5)No recommendation shall be made to Her Majesty in Council to make an Order under subsection (4) unless a draft of the Order has been laid before Parliament and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.

(6)The High Court shall be taken to be duly constituted notwithstanding any vacancy in the office of F8. . . Lord Chief Justice, [F9President of the Queen's Bench Division, President of the Family Division, Chancellor of the High Court][F10or Senior Presiding Judge][F11and whether or not an appointment has been made to the office of vice-president of the Queen’s Bench Division.].

[F12(7)For the purposes of this section the full-time equivalent number of puisne judges is to be calculated by taking the number of full-time puisne judges and adding, for each puisne judge who is not a full-time puisne judge, such fraction as is reasonable.]

Textual Amendments

F2S. 4(1)(ba)-(d) substituted (1.10.2005) for s. 4(1)(c)(d) by Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c. 4), ss. 15, 148, Sch. 4 para. 117(2)(b); S.I. 2005/2505, art. 2(c)

F4S. 4(1)(ddd) inserted (27.9.1999) by 1999 c. 22, ss. 69(2)(a), 108(3)(b) (with Sch. 14 para. 7(2))

F11Words in s. 4(6) inserted (27.9.1999) by 1999 c. 22, ss. 69(2)(b), 108(3)(b) (with Sch. 14 para. 7(2))

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C1Ss. 2(1), 4(1), 12(1)-(6) modified (9.11.1998) by 1998 c. 42, ss. 18(4)(a), 22(2) (with ss. 7(8), 22(5))

S. 4(1) modified (27.9.1999) by 1999 c. 22, s. 68(3)(c), 108(3)(b) (with Sch. 14 para. 7(2))

5 Divisions of High Court.E+W

(1)There shall be three divisions of the High Court namely—

(a)the Chancery Division, consisting of [F13the Chancellor of the High Court, who shall be president thereof,] the Vice-Chancellor, who shall be vice-president thereof, and such of the puisne judges as are for the time being attached thereto in accordance with this section;

(b)the Queen’s Bench Division, consisting of the Lord Chief Justice, [F14, the President of the Queen's Bench Division], [F15the vice-president of the Queen’s Bench Division] and such of the puisne judges as are for the time being so attached thereto; and

(c)the Family Division, consisting of the President of the Family Division and such of the puisne judges as are for the time being so attached thereto.

(2)The puisne judges of the High Court shall be attached to the various Divisions by direction [F16given by the Lord Chief Justice after consulting the Lord Chancellor]; and any such judge may with his consent be transferred from one Division to another by direction [F16given by the Lord Chief Justice after consulting the Lord Chancellor], but shall be so transferred only with the concurrence of the senior judge of the Division from which it is proposed to transfer him.

(3)Any judge attached to any Division may act as an additional judge of any other Division at the request of the [F17Lord Chief Justice made][F18 with the concurrence of both of the following—

(a)the senior judge of the Division to which the judge is attached;

(b)the senior judge of the Division of which the judge is to act as an additional judge.]

.

(4)Nothing in this section shall be taken to prevent a judge of any Division (whether nominated under section 6(2) or not) from sitting, whenever required, in a divisional court of another Division or for any judge of another Division.

(5)Without prejudice to the provisions of this Act relating to the distribution of business in the High Court, all jurisdiction vested in the High Court under this Act shall belong to all the Divisions alike.

[F19(6)The Lord Chief Justice may nominate a judicial office holder (as defined in section 109(4) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005) to exercise his functions under subsection (2).]

6 The Patents, Admiralty and Commercial Courts.E+W

(1)There shall be—

(a)as part of the Chancery Division, a Patents Court; and

(b)as parts of the Queen’s Bench Division, an Admiralty Court and a Commercial Court.

(2)The judges of the Patents Court, of the Admiralty Court and of the Commercial Court shall be such of the puisne judges of the High Court as the [F20Lord Chief Justice may, after consulting the Lord Chancellor,] from time to time nominate to be judges of the Patents Court, Admiralty Judges and Commercial Judges respectively.

[F21(3)The Lord Chief Justice may nominate a judicial office holder (as defined in section 109(4) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005) to exercise his functions under subsection (2).]

7 Power to alter Divisions or transfer certain courts to different Divisions.E+W

(1)Her Majesty may from time to time, on a recommendation of [F22the Lord Chancellor and] the judges mentioned in subsection (2), by Order in Council direct that—

(a)any increase or reduction in the number of Divisions of the High Court; or

(b)the transfer of any of the courts mentioned in section 6(1) to a different Division,

be carried into effect in pursuance of the recommendation.

(2)Those judges are F23. . . the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, [F24the President of the Queen's Bench Division, the President of the Family Division and the Chancellor of the High Court]

(3)An Order in Council under this section may include such incidental, supplementary or consequential provisions as appear to Her Majesty necessary or expedient, including amendments of provisions referring to particular Divisions contained in this Act or any other statutory provision.

(4)Any Order in Council under this section shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

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