High Court judge (England and Wales)

Last updated
Red-robed High Court judges in procession at Llandaff Cathedral in 2013 Legal Service for Wales 2013 (144).JPG
Red-robed High Court judges in procession at Llandaff Cathedral in 2013

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 justices and wear red and black robes. [1]


High Court judges do not include the ex officio judges of the High Court, such as the heads of the divisions. High Court judges rank below justices of appeal, but above circuit judges.

Title and form of address

Upon appointment, male High Court judges are appointed Knights Bachelor and female judges made Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire. [2]

In court, a High Court judge is addressed as My Lord or Your Lordship if male, or as My Lady or Your Ladyship if female. [3] [2] High Court judges use the title in office of Mr Justice for men or, normally, Mrs Justice for women, even if unmarried. [3] When Alison Russell was appointed in 2014, she took the title "Ms Justice Russell". The style of The Honourable (or The Hon) is also used during office. [2] For example, Joseph Bloggs would be referred to as The Hon Mr Justice Bloggs Kt and Jane Bloggs DBE as The Hon Mrs Justice Bloggs DBE . When there is already or has until recently been a judge with the same (or a confusingly similar) surname as a new appointee, the new judge will often use a first name as part of their official title. Many judges have done this, such as Mr Justice Christopher Clarke (Sir Christopher Simon Courtenay Stephenson Clarke) and Mr Justice Roderick Evans (Sir David Roderick Evans).

When referring to a High Court judge in a legal context, the judge is identified by use of the surname (or first name and surname if appropriate), followed by the letter 'J'. For example, Mr Justice Bloggs or Mrs Justice Bloggs would be referred to as "Bloggs J". When two or more judges are listed the letters 'JJ' are used; for example, "Bloggs, Smith and Jones JJ".


Judges of the High Court were appointed in 1875 on the formation of the High Court of Justice. In 1877, they were formally renamed justices of the High Court. High Court judges are appointed by the monarch on the advice of the lord chancellor. Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the Judicial Appointments Commission has removed the appointment of judges from the overtly political arena. High Court judges, like other judges, are appointed on open competition.

High Court judges, like all judges in England and Wales, hold office during good behaviour; this is laid down in the Act of Settlement 1701. This gives them greater security of tenure than if they held office during His or Her Majesty's pleasure, and is designed to protect their independence. A High Court judge can only be removed by the King upon an Address of both Houses of Parliament.

Formerly, High Court judges could only be appointed from among barristers of at least 10 years' standing. [4] Before the qualifications changed, a typical appointee had in the region of twenty to thirty years' experience as a lawyer. Only four solicitors had been appointed as puisne judges: Michael Sachs in 1993, Lawrence Collins in 2000, Henry Hodge in 2004, and Gary Hickinbottom in 2008. [5] Collins was elevated further to the Court of Appeal in 2007 and became a law lord in 2009. Occasionally more junior members of the judiciary are elevated to that rank, such as Mr Justice Crane, who was formerly a Circuit Judge, and Mrs Justice Butler-Sloss (now Baroness Butler-Sloss) who was previously a registrar in the Principal Registry of the Family Division of the High Court. A few distinguished academics have also made it onto the High Court bench, including Mrs Justice Hale (now Baroness Hale of Richmond) and, more recently, Mr Justice Beatson. [6] In 2004, calls for increased diversity among the judiciary were recognised and the qualification period was changed [7] [8] so that, as of 21 July 2008, a potential High Court judge must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a seven-year basis. [4]

While High Court judges all have the same jurisdiction, an appointee is allocated to one of the High Court's three divisions: the Chancery Division, the King's Bench Division and the Family Division. Judges can be transferred from one division to another by the Lord Chancellor.


Their salary was initially fixed at £5,000 in 1875, which was only increased to £8,000 in 1954. A pension of £3,500 was first fixed in 1875.

As of 2019, puisne judges of the High Court received a salary of £185,197 per year, the Chancellor of the High Court of £221,757 per year. [9]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales</span> Head of the judiciary of England and Wales

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Constitutional Reform Act 2005</span> Constitutional reform of the UK Judiciary

The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, relevant to UK constitutional law. It provides for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the previous appellate jurisdiction of the Law Lords as well as some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and removed the functions of Speaker of the House of Lords and Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales from the office of Lord Chancellor.

A puisne judge or puisne justice is a dated term for an ordinary judge or a judge of lesser rank of a particular court.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Baroness Butler-Sloss</span> English judge (born 1933)

Ann Elizabeth Oldfield Butler-Sloss, Baroness Butler-Sloss, GBE, PC, is a retired English judge. She was the first female Lord Justice of Appeal and was the highest-ranking female judge in the United Kingdom until 2004, when Baroness Hale was appointed to the House of Lords. Until June 2007, she chaired the inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Fayed. She stood down from that task with effect from that date, and the inquest was conducted by Lord Justice Scott Baker.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">High Court (Hong Kong)</span> Superior court of record with unlimited civil and criminal jurisdiction in Hong Kong

The High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is a part of the legal system of Hong Kong. It 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Court of Appeal judge (England and Wales)</span> Ordinary judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales

A Lord Justice of Appeal or Lady Justice of Appeal is a judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales, the court that hears appeals from the High Court of Justice, the Crown Court and other courts and tribunals. A Lord Justice of Appeal is 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 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Judiciary of England and Wales</span>

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 given more weight than district judges sitting in county courts and magistrates' courts. On 1 April 2020 there were 3,174 judges in post in England and Wales. 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Victoria Sharp</span> British jurist (born 1956)

Dame Victoria Madeleine Sharp,, PC is the President of the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in England and Wales.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Judges' Council</span>

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom</span> The judges of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom are the judges of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom other than the president and the deputy president. The Supreme Court is the highest court of the United Kingdom for civil and criminal matters in the jurisdictions of England and Wales and Northern Ireland. Judges are appointed by the King on the advice of the Prime Minister, who receives recommendations from a selection commission.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Lloyd Jones, Lord Lloyd-Jones</span> British judge

David Lloyd Jones, Lord Lloyd-Jones, PC, FLSW is a British judge and legal scholar. He has served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom since 2017, and has also served as a member of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales and as a chairman of the Law Commission prior to joining the Supreme Court.

Dame Julia Wendy Macur, DBE, known as The Rt Hon Lady Justice Macur, is a British judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. Between April 2017 and December 2019, she was the Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales.

The Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales is a member of the Court of Appeal appointed by the Lord Chief Justice to supervise the Presiding Judges for the various judicial circuits of England and Wales. The Senior Presiding Judge is responsible for deployment and personnel issues for all circuits and acts as a "general point of liaison" for the courts, judiciary and Government.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vivien Rose</span> British jurist

Vivien Judith Rose, Lady Rose of Colmworth, is a senior British judge, currently sitting as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sue Carr</span> British judge

Dame Sue Lascelles Carr,, is an English judge, currently serving as a Lady Justice of Appeal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kathryn Thirlwall</span> English judge

Dame Kathryn Mary Thirlwall, DBE, styled The Rt Hon Lady Justice Thirlwall, is an English judge of the Court of Appeal, and since December 2019 is the Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales. She practised as a barrister from 1982, was a High Court judge from April 2010, and was promoted to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in February 2017.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elisabeth Laing</span> British judge

Dame Elisabeth Mary Caroline Laing,, styled The Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing, is a Lady Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.

Dame Nerys Angharad Jefford, styled The Honourable Mrs Justice Jefford, DBE is a High Court Judge of England and Wales.


  1. High Court Judge. judiciary.gov.uk 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2012. Archived here.
  2. 1 2 3 Jacob, Robin. "How to address Judges and others" (PDF). Gray's Inn.
  3. 1 2 "What do I call a judge?". Courts and Tribunals Judiciary.
  4. 1 2 "Senior Courts Act 1981 s.10(3)(c)". Archived from the original on 15 January 2016.
  5. Chellel, Kit (19 September 2008). "Former McKenna lawyer appointed to High Court". TheLawyer.com. Archived from the original on 20 September 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2009.
  6. "Law professor appointed to High Court". University of Cambridge. 27 September 2002. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2009.
  7. "Increasing Diversity in the Judiciary". Department for Constitutional Affairs. October 2004. Archived from the original on 1 September 2008. Retrieved 5 March 2008. CP 25/04
  8. "Explanatory Notes to Tribunals, Courts And Enforcement Act 2007". Office of Public Service Information. 2007. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 5 March 2008. paras. 281–316
  9. "Ministry of Justice Judicial Salaries from 1 April 2018" (PDF).