|This article is part of the series: Courts of England and Wales|
|Law of England and Wales|
The Chancellor of the High Court is the head of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales. This judge and the other two heads of divisions (Family and Queens Bench) sit by virtue of their offices often, as and when their expertise is deemed relevant, in panel in the Court of Appeal. As such this judge ranks equally to the President of the Family Division and the President of the Queen's Bench Division.
From 1813 to 1841, the solitary and from 1841 to 1875, the three ordinary judges of the Court of Chancery — rarely a court of first instance until 1855 – were called vice-chancellors. The more senior judges of the same court were the Lord Chancellor and the Master of the Rolls (who were moved fully to the Court of Appeal above in 1881). Each would occasionally hear cases alone or make declarations on paper applications alone. Partly due to the old system of many pre-pleadings, pleadings and hearings before most cases would reach Chancery the expense and duration of proceedings was pilloried in art and literature before the reforms of the late 19th century. Charles Dickens set Bleak House around raised hopes in ( Jarndyce and Jarndyce ) a near-incomprehensible, decades-long case in Chancery, involving a decision on an increasingly old will which was rendered useless as all of the deceased's wealth was – unknowingly to the prospective beneficiaries – absorbed in legal costs. Reform swiftly followed.
Certain 1870s to 1899 Acts (the Judicature Acts) merged the courts of law and those of equity and enacted a halt to the position of vice-chancellor – which lasted from 1875 until 1971.
From 1971 until October 2005,the revived high judicial office was called the Vice-Chancellorship (and the judge bore the title Vice-Chancellor). The holder nominally acted as the Lord Chancellor's deputy in the English legal system and as head of the Chancery Division. The key duties of this judge have not changed in substance since 1971.
An equivalent position existed in Ireland between 1867 and 1904 (Vice-Chancellor of Ireland) when the office was abolished. Throughout that period it was held by Hedges Eyre Chatterton (who was born in Cork and died in 1910 aged 91).
Because of an increase in caseload in the Court of Chancery for its two judges (the Lord Chancellor and the Master of the Rolls), an additional judicial office, The Vice-Chancellor of England, was created by the Administration of Justice Act 1813 to share the work. With the transfer of the equity jurisdiction to the Court of Chancery from the Court of Exchequer, two vice-chancellors were added in 1841 by the Chancery Act 1841, with the caveat that no successor for the second of the two new judges (James Wigram) could be appointed. Soon Lancelot Shadwell (the Vice-Chancellor of England at the time the bill came into effect) left office and the three vice-chancellors became of equal status, with the "of England" dropped. In 1851, Parliament relented so a successor to Wigram could be named to keep the number at three (George Turner), but again with the caveat (that proved temporary) that no future successor could be appointed. The caveat was lifted by an Act of 1852 so the number became fixed at three until the next major court reforms.
After the Judicature Acts, which merged the Court of Chancery and various other courts into the new High Court of Justice, came into force, new vice-chancellors were not appointed: new judges of the Chancery Division became styled "Mr. Justice ..." like other High Court judges (adopting the style of the pre-merger common law courts).
A new judicial post of Vice-Chancellor (its last holder having been that of 1882) was created by section 5 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970, which came into effect on 1 October 1971. Under its provisions the Vice-Chancellor was appointed by the Lord Chancellor (president of the Chancery Division). He became responsible to the latter for administering the division.The Senior Courts Act 1981 made the position one appointed by the Queen (like the President of the Family Division) and made the Vice-Chancellor vice-president of the Chancery Division.
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 removed the Lord Chancellor's role as a judge. As one of the judicial roles of the office was president of the Chancery Division, the office of Vice-Chancellor was renamed Chancellor of the High Court and replaced the Lord Chancellor. The name change took effect on 1 October 2005,but some of the responsibilities (including the presidency of the division) did not transfer until 3 April 2006. The Constitutional Reform Act retained the position of Vice-Chancellor as vice-president of the Chancery Division, though it does not appear anyone has been appointed to the position or who would make or be eligible for such an appointment.
The Court of Appeal is the highest court within the Senior Courts of England and Wales, and second in the legal system of England and Wales only to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The Court of Appeal was created in 1875, and today comprises 39 Lord Justices of Appeal and Lady Justices of Appeal.
The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness of the common law. The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the estates of lunatics and the guardianship of infants. Its initial role was somewhat different: as an extension of the Lord Chancellor's role as Keeper of the King's Conscience, the Court was an administrative body primarily concerned with conscientious law. Thus the Court of Chancery had a far greater remit than the common law courts, whose decisions it had the jurisdiction to overrule for much of its existence, and was far more flexible. Until the 19th century, the Court of Chancery could apply a far wider range of remedies than common law courts, such as specific performance and injunctions, and had some power to grant damages in special circumstances. With the shift of the Exchequer of Pleas towards a common law court and loss of its equitable jurisdiction by the Administration of Justice Act 1841, the Chancery became the only national equitable body in the English legal system.
The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking among the Great Officers of State who are appointed regularly in the United Kingdom, nominally outranking the Prime Minister. The Lord Chancellor is outranked only by the Lord High Steward, another Great Officer of State, who is appointed only for the day of coronations and to preside over impeachment trials of peers. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. Prior to their Union into the Kingdom of Great Britain, there were separate lord chancellors for the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland; there were Lord Chancellors of Ireland until 1922.
The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is the Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales and the President of the Courts of England and Wales.
Sir Timothy Andrew Wigram Lloyd, PC is an English former judge who was a member of the Court of Appeal.
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. On 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). Some judges with United Kingdom-wide jurisdiction also sit in England and Wales, particularly Justices of the United Kingdom Supreme Court and members of the tribunals judiciary.
Sir Robert Andrew Morritt, CVO, is a former British judge who served as Chancellor of the High Court of England and Wales.
The President of the Queen's Bench Division is the head of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice. The current president is Dame Victoria Sharp.
The President of the Family Division is the head of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice in England and Wales and Head of Family Justice. The Family Division was created in 1971 when Admiralty and contentious probate cases were removed from its predecessor, the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division.
The Court of Chancery was a court which exercised equitable jurisdiction in Ireland until its abolition as part of the reform of the court system in 1877. It was the court in which the Lord Chancellor of Ireland presided. Its final sitting place was at the Four Courts in Dublin, which still stands.
The Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster is an office of the Duchy of Lancaster. The vice-chancellor is appointed by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster after consultation with the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. Since 1987, the vice-chancellor has been a High Court judge of the Chancery Division with a term of approximately three years.
Michael Townley Featherstone Briggs, Lord Briggs of Westbourne is a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. He served earlier as a judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. By Royal Warrant, he bears the courtesy title of Lord Briggs of Westbourne.
The Judges' Council is a body in England and Wales that, representing the judiciary, advises the Lord Chief Justice on judicial matters. It has its historical roots in the original Council of the Judges of the Supreme Court, created by the Judicature Act 1873 to oversee the new Supreme Court of Judicature. This body initially met regularly, reforming the procedure used by the circuit courts, and the new High Court of Justice but met less regularly as time went on, meeting only twice between 1900 and 1907, with a gap of ten years between meetings in 1940 and 1950 respectively. After relative inactivity, it was eventually wound up through the Supreme Court Act 1981, which contained no provisions for its continued existence, something Denis Dobson attributes to newer bodies which performed the duties the Council had originally been created to do.
The High Court of Justice in London, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, are the Senior Courts of England and Wales. Its name is abbreviated as EWHC for legal citation purposes.
Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom are the judges of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom other than the President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The Supreme Court is the highest in the whole of the United Kingdom for civil matters, and for criminal matters from the United Kingdom jurisdictions of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Judges are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, who receives recommendations from a selection commission. The number of judges is set by s.23(2) Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which established the Court, but may be increased by the Queen through an Order in Council under s.23(3). There are currently 12 positions: one President, one Deputy President, and 10 Justices. Judges of the Court who are not already peers are granted the style Lord or Lady for life.
Sir John Stuart was a British Conservative Party politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1846 to 1852, before becoming a judge.
Sir James Lewis Knight-Bruce, was an English barrister, judge and politician.
The Vice-President of the Civil Division is a Court of Appeal Judge who assists the Master of the Rolls in leading the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. The power to appoint a Vice-President was created by the Senior Courts Act 1981, but was not exercised until Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers was appointed Master of the Rolls in 2000. Because Lord Phillips was in the process of completing the inquiry into the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak, he appointed Sir Martin Nourse the first Vice-President so he could serve as Acting Master of the Rolls.
Sir George James Turner was an English barrister, politician and judge. He became a Lord Justice of Appeal in chancery.
Sir James Wigram, FRS (1793–1866) was an English barrister, politician and judge.