Circuit judge (England and Wales)

Last updated
Circuit judges in their ceremonial robes in procession at Llandaff Cathedral in 2013 Legal Service for Wales 2013 (92).JPG
Circuit judges in their ceremonial robes in procession at Llandaff Cathedral in 2013

Circuit judges are judges in England and Wales who sit in the Crown Court, county courts and some specialized sub-divisions of the High Court of Justice, such as the Technology and Construction Court. There are currently over 600 circuit judges throughout England and Wales.


The office of circuit judge was created by the Courts Act 1971 and replaced the former offices of Chairman of Quarter Sessions and Borough Recorder. [1] Circuit judges are styled His or Her Honour Judge X and are referred to as His or Her Honour. They are sometimes referred to as "purple judges" on account of their purple colour dress robes. [2] Part-time circuit judges are known as Recorders but are also addressed as "Your Honour".

Circuit judges rank below High Court judges but above District judges. They may be appointed to sit as deputy High Court judges, and some of the more senior circuit judges are eligible to sit in the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal.

Until 1 April 2005 there were six court circuits in England and Wales, namely the Midland, Northern, North Eastern, South Eastern and Western circuits, and the Wales and Chester circuit. On that date, following the creation of Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS), the circuits were replaced by seven regions: Midlands, North West, North East, South East, London, South West and Wales.

Formerly, circuit judges could only be drawn from barristers and solicitors of at least 10 years' standing. [3] However, in 2004 there were calls for increased diversity among the judiciary that were recognised and the qualification period was changed [4] [5] so that, as of 21 July 2008, a potential circuit judge must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 7-year basis. [6]

When hearing criminal cases, circuit judges wear a violet robe with lilac trim, bands, a short horsehair wig and a red tippet (sash) over the left shoulder. For civil cases they wear the same robe with a lilac sash, but neither bands nor wigs are worn. When sitting at the Old Bailey, and for some types of High Court work, circuit judges wear a black silk gown over a court coat or a waistcoat. [7] On ceremonial occasions they wear violet robes with a lilac trim and a full-bottomed wig.

Some circuit judges are appointed as senior circuit judges and take on additional responsibility, such as the running of the largest court centres.

Literary references

In Rumpole and the Reign of Terror by John Mortimer, Horace Rumpole dismisses the idea of being a circuit judge: "Circus judge is what I call them." [8]

Related Research Articles

Judge Official who presides over court proceedings

A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and, typically, in an open court. The judge hears all the witnesses and any other evidence presented by the barristers or solicitors of the case, assesses the credibility and arguments of the parties, and then issues a ruling on the matter at hand based on their interpretation of the law and their own personal judgment. In some jurisdictions, the judge's powers may be shared with a jury. In inquisitorial systems of criminal investigation, a judge might also be an examining magistrate. The presiding judge ensures that all court proceedings are lawful and orderly.

The Courts of England and Wales, supported administratively by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in England and Wales.

Court dress Style of clothes prescribed for courts of law

Court dress comprises the style of clothes and other attire prescribed for members of courts of law. Depending on the country and jurisdiction's traditions, members of the court may wear formal robes, gowns, collars, or wigs. Even within a certain country and court setting, there may be times when the full formal dress is not used, such as in trials involving children.

Crown Court

The Crown Court of England and Wales is, together with the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal, one of the constituent parts of the Senior Courts of England and Wales. It is the highest court of first instance in criminal cases; however, for some purposes the Crown Court is hierarchically subordinate to the High Court and its Divisional Courts.

Circuit courts are court systems in several common law jurisdictions. The core concept of circuit courts requires judges to travel to different locales to ensure wide visibility and understanding of cases in a region. More generally, some modern circuit courts may also refer to a court that merely holds trials for cases of multiple locations in some rotation.

Maryland Court of Appeals The highest court in the U.S. state of Maryland

The Court of Appeals of Maryland is the supreme court of the U.S. state of Maryland. The court, which is composed of one chief judge and six associate judges, meets in the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building in the state capital, Annapolis. The term of the Court begins the second Monday of September. The Court is unique among American courts in that the judges wear red robes. The Maryland Court of Appeals joins the New York Court of Appeals in being the only two state highest courts to bear the name "Court of Appeals" rather than "Supreme Court".

Judiciary of Hong Kong

The Judiciary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is the judicial branch of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Under the Basic Law of Hong Kong, it exercises the judicial power of the Region and is independent of the executive and legislative branches of the Government. The courts in Hong Kong hear and adjudicate all prosecutions and civil disputes, including all public and private law matters.

A recorder is a judicial officer in England and Wales and some other common law jurisdictions.

High Court (Hong Kong)

The High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, consists of the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance; it deals with criminal and civil cases which have risen beyond the lower courts. It is a superior court of record of unlimited civil and criminal jurisdiction. It was named the Supreme Court before 1997. Though previously named the Supreme Court, this Court has long been the local equivalent to the Senior Courts of England and Wales and has never been vested with the power of final adjudication.

Supreme Court of Singapore national supreme court

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Singapore is one of the two tiers of the court system in Singapore, the other tier being the State Courts.

Court of Appeal judge (England and Wales)

A Lord Justice of Appeal or Lady Justice of Appeal is an ordinary judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, the court that hears appeals from the High Court of Justice and the Crown Court, and represents the second highest level of judge in the courts of England and Wales. Despite the title, and unlike the former Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, they are not necessarily peers.

The Judicial Appointments Commission(JAC) is an independent commission that selects candidates for judicial office in courts and tribunals in England and Wales and for some tribunals whose jurisdiction extends to Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Judiciary of England and Wales

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.

High Court judge (England and Wales) The third highest level of judge in the courts of England and Wales

A Justice of the High Court, commonly known as a ‘High Court judge’, is a judge of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, and represents the third highest level of judge in the courts of England and Wales. High Court judges are referred to as puisne judges. High Court Judges wear red and black robes.

Judiciaries of the United Kingdom Systems of courts of law in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

The judiciary of the United Kingdom are the separate judiciaries of the three legal systems in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. However, the judges of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, Employment Tribunals, Employment Appeal Tribunal and the UK tribunals system do have a United Kingdom–wide jurisdiction. In employment law, employment tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal have jurisdiction in the whole of Great Britain.

Judiciary of Ghana Branch of government

The Judiciary of Ghana comprises the Superior Courts of Judicature, established under the 1992 Constitution, and the Inferior Courts, established by Parliament. The hierarchy of courts derives largely from British juridical forms. The courts have jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters.

High Court of Justice One of the Senior Courts of England and Wales

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.

The Judiciary of Macau is responsible for the administration of justice in Macau. It hears all prosecutions and civil disputes, including disputes between individuals and the government. It is fundamental to Macau’s legal system that members of the judiciary are independent of the executive and legislative branches of the government. The courts of law in Macau comprise the Court of Final Appeal and 11 other courts. The President of the Court of Final Appeal of the Macau Special Administrative Region is head of the judiciary. A bilingual court system in which Chinese, Portuguese or both can be used was put in place, in accordance with the requirement of the Basic Law.

Upper Tribunal

The Upper Tribunal is part of the administrative justice system of the United Kingdom. It was created in 2008 as part of a programme, set out in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, to rationalise the tribunal system, and to provide a common means of handling appeals against the decisions of lower tribunals. It is administered by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service.

The Judiciary of Sri Lanka are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in Sri Lanka. The Constitution of Sri Lanka defines courts as independent institutions within the traditional framework of checks and balances. They apply Sri Lankan Law which is an amalgam of English common law, Roman-Dutch civil law and Customary Law; and are established under the Judicature Act No 02 of 1978 of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.


  1. section 44 Courts Act 1971
  2. "In Pictures: Court room makeover". BBC News. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  3. Courts Act 1971, s.16(3)(a)
  4. "Increasing Diversity in the Judiciary". Department for Constitutional Affairs. October 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-05. CP 25/04
  5. "Explanatory Notes to Tribunals, Courts And Enforcement Act 2007". Office of Public Service Information. 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-02-21. Retrieved 2008-03-05. paras.281-316
  6. Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, s.50/ Sch.10, Pt.1.13
  7. "Court Dress - Examples". Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  8. Mortimer, John (2007). Rumpole and the Reign of Terror. Penguin UK. ISBN   9780141025704.