A recorder is a judicial officer in England and Wales and some other common law jurisdictions.
In the courts of England and Wales the term recorder has two distinct meanings. The senior circuit judge of a borough or city is often awarded the title of "Honorary Recorder". However, "Recorder" is also used to denote a person who sits as a part-time circuit judge.
In England and Wales, originally a recorder was a certain magistrate or judge having criminal and civil jurisdiction within the corporation of a city or borough. Such incorporated bodies were given the right by the Crown to appoint a recorder. He was a person with legal knowledge appointed by the mayor and aldermen of the corporation to 'record' the proceedings of their courts and the customs of the borough or city.Such recordings were regarded as the highest evidence of fact. Typically, the appointment would be given to a senior and distinguished practitioner at the Bar, and it was, therefore, usually executed part-time only, by a person whose usual practice was as a barrister. It carried a great deal of prestige and power of patronage. The recorder of a borough was often entrusted by the mayor and corporation to nominate its Members of Parliament, as was the case with the Recorder of Barnstaple, who in 1545 nominated the two MPs to represent the Borough of Barnstaple. The only survival today of the historic office is the Recorder of London who is still appointed by the Court of Aldermen of the Corporation of the City of London and thereby becomes a member of that court. He is a senior circuit judge sitting at the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey).
The ancient recorderships of England and Wales now form part of a system of honorary recorderships which are filled by the most senior full-time circuit judges. At each Crown Court centre, a particular judge is appointed "resident judge", leads the team of judges who sit there and provides the essential link between the judiciary and the administration. In the larger city court centres, the resident judge is usually a senior circuit judge who is recruited and appointed specifically to that post. An exception is the Corporation of the City of London which still follows ancient custom as stated above.
In the many smaller towns and cities where the resident judge is not a senior circuit judge, the position is different. The resident judge is deployed specifically to that post by the Lord Chief Justice (with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor) from the ranks of the circuit bench. They then hold office as resident judge for a set period, normally four years, although such appointments are renewable.
Whilst the appointment of an honorary recorder has lain with the borough council since the Courts Act 1971, in practice the resident judge is appointed as the honorary recorder. In a borough that is coincident with an ancient assize the position is titular; that is, the resident judge is automatically entitled honorary recorder and continues to hold that title until their retirement from the post.
In the case where the resident judge is a fixed-term appointment, it is expected that the city or borough council will appoint them as honorary recorder for the duration of their tenure as resident judge. Boroughs which had a power by charter to appoint a recorder before 1971, but which had no quarter sessions, have a preserved right to appoint anyone, including non-lawyers, as honorary recorder, but an honorary recorder who is not a judge cannot sit as a judge in court or exercise any judicial functions. The procedure to be followed is that laid down by the Lord Chief Justice in his "Guidelines for the Appointment of Honorary Recorders", which states that it has been the practice of most large city councils to appoint the resident judge to be honorary recorder of the city during his tenure of the office. Some new positions have been created since 1971, for example for the Borough of Redbridge.
The appointment of an honorary recorder is made by the borough council concerned, and although it does not require the approval of a higher authority, the Lord Chief Justice has let it be known that he would be pleased if boroughs considering making such an appointment would first consult the Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales.[ citation needed ]
Due to the reorganisation of courts, especially where local government reorganisation has occurred at the same time, some titles bestowed by one council may be held by the senior resident judge sitting in another borough; a prominent example is the Recorder of the City of Westminster who presides at the Crown Court situated in the London Borough of Southwark.
The protocol of the use of the title is that it is customary for an honorary recorder, when sitting in the Crown Court in the city or town where he holds that office, to be described as such in the published court lists. This should not be done, however, when the judge is sitting in the Crown Court in another city or town, whether or not that city or town has an honorary recorder of its own.
Honorary recorders who are also senior circuit judges are authorised by the Lord Chief Justice to wear red robes when sitting in court. These robes are based on the design of the robes worn by judges of the County Court, but in red and black. They were designed for the recorders of Manchester and Liverpool in 1956. The right to wear them in court was extended in the 1980s to the other senior circuit judges appointed as honorary recorders, but has not been extended to those who are not senior circuit judges. Accordingly, when sitting in court, honorary recorders who are not senior circuit judges continue to wear the normal robes of a circuit judge sitting in the Crown Court. In addition, honorary recorders who are also senior circuit judges are addressed in court as "My Lord/Lady" (as for a High Court Judge) instead of "Your Honour" (as for other circuit judges, including senior circuit judges who are not honorary recorders). In the law reports and in court lists an honorary recorder is usually styled "The Recorder of X".
Since 1971 the term "recorder" has also been used for a part-time judicial appointment in England and Wales, providing part-time experience of judicial office. The part-time appointees were initially designated "Assistant Recorder", with a view to promotion to full "recorder". Appointments are no longer made to the position of Assistant Recorder.
Appointments are made by the Crown by Royal Warrant, on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor. Since 2006 the Lord Chancellor's recommendations are based upon an independent appointments process by the Judicial Appointments Commission.
Eligibility is restricted to barristers or solicitors of at least seven years' standing. A recorder, when acting as such, has all the powers of a circuit judge and may sit in the Crown Court or in the County Court. A recorder sitting in the Crown Court or County Court is addressed as "Your Honour" (save in the Central Criminal Court (or Old Bailey) where all judges are addressed as "My Lord (or Lady)"). If appointed to do so under section 9(1) of the Senior Courts Act 1981, a recorder may sit as a part-time High Court judge.
A recorder is paid a daily fee and is expected to sit as a judge for between three and six weeks a year.
The Recorder of Dublin was the principal magistrate for the city of Dublin until the office was abolished in 1924. The judicial offices of Recorder of Belfast and Recorder of Derry still exist.There were also prior to 1924 a Recorder of Cork and Recorders of Limerick, Youghal, Galway, Enniskillen, Carrickfergus, Kinsale, Dundalk, Waterford, Hillsborough, Cashel and Clonmel.
Hong Kong operates a system of appointing part-time recorders similar to that in England & Wales. The recordership scheme was introduced in Hong Kong in 1994 to encourage experienced practitioners who are willing to sit as a High Court Judge for a few weeks every year, but are not prepared to commit themselves to a permanent, full-time appointment. It was intended to act as a more formal system of appointment compared to the more ad hoc nature of appointment of Deputy High Court Judges.
Recorders are practitioners in private practice (in practice, Senior Counsel) who are appointed by the Chief Executive on the recommendation of the independent Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission (JORC).The appointment is for a fixed term of a few years, during which the practitioner sits as a recorder hearing cases in the Court of First Instance of the High Court for a few weeks in a year. Recorders may exercise all the jurisdiction, powers and privileges of a full-time Judge of the Court of First Instance.
The qualification for appointment as a recorder is the same as that for High Court Judge: that is, having practised for at least 10 years as a barrister, advocate, solicitor or judicial officer in Hong Kong or another common law jurisdiction.
As of 1 April 2020, Recorders receive honoraria at a daily rate of HK$11,765.
In some U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions, the Recorder's Court is a local court of limited jurisdiction, most often hearing misdemeanors, traffic violations, and other petty criminal offenses. The Recorder of New York City was one of the judges of the Court of General Sessions (the local court of general jurisdiction on criminal cases) and presided over most murder trials in New York City. Historically, the City of Detroit, Michigan had a Recorder's Court, which has now been subsumed as 36th District Court and part of Wayne County Circuit Court.
In the biblical kingdom of Israel, the recorder was the chancellor or vizier of the kingdom. He brought all weighty matters under the notice of the king, such as complaints, petitions, and wishes of subjects or foreigners. He also drew up papers for the king's guidance, and prepared drafts of the royal will for the scribes. All treaties came under his oversight; and he had the care of the national archives or records, to which, as royal historiographer, he added the current annals of the kingdom.
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 his or her interpretation of the law and his or her 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.
In the United Kingdom and in some Commonwealth countries, a Queen's Counsel during the reign of a queen, or King's Counsel during the reign of a king, is a lawyer who is appointed by the monarch of the country to be one of ’Her [His] Majesty's Counsel learned in the law’. The position originated in England. Some Commonwealth countries have either abolished the position, or re-named it so as to remove monarchical connotations, for example, ’Senior Counsel’ or ’Senior Advocate’.
The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales is a court in London and one of a number of buildings housing the Crown Court. Part of the present building stands on the site of the medieval Newgate gaol, on a road named Old Bailey that follows the line of the City of London's fortified wall, which runs from Ludgate Hill to the junction of Newgate Street and Holborn Viaduct. The Old Bailey has been housed in several structures near this location since the sixteenth century, and its present building dates from 1902, designed by Edward William Mountford.
The term magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer to a civilian officer who administers the law. In ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest ranking government officers, and possessed both judicial and executive powers. In other parts of the world, such as China, a magistrate was responsible for administration over a particular geographic area. Today, in some jurisdictions, a magistrate is a judicial officer who hears cases in a lower court, and typically deals with more minor or preliminary matters. In other jurisdictions, magistrates may be volunteers without formal legal training who perform a judicial role with regard to minor matters.
Court dress comprises the style of clothes and other attire prescribed for members of courts of law and for royal courts. 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.
Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, commonly known as Law Lords, were judges appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 to the British House of Lords to exercise its judicial functions, which included acting as the highest court of appeal for most domestic matters. The House of Lords lost its judicial functions upon the establishment of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in October 2009; Lords of Appeal in Ordinary then in office automatically became Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, and those Supreme Court justices that had seats in the House of Lords lost their right to speak and vote there until their retirement as justices of the new court.
The Courts Act 1971 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom the purpose of which was to reform and modernise the courts system of England and Wales.
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.
Circuit judges are judges in England and Wales who sit in the Crown Court, county courts and certain 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.
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.
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. At 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 John Bernard Goldring is a British judge. He currently sits as the President of the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal, and serves as the Deputy Investigatory Powers Commissioner. He formerly sat on the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.
The Recorder of London is an ancient legal office in the City of London. The Recorder of London is the senior Circuit Judge at the Central Criminal Court, hearing trials of criminal offences. The Recorder is appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the City of London Corporation with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor. The Recorder's deputy is the Common Serjeant of London, appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor. The Recorder of London is, since 14 April 2020, HHJ Mark Lucraft QC.
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 Peter Ribblesdale Thornton QC is a former Senior Circuit Judge and former Chief Coroner of England and Wales.
The judiciary of Scotland are the judicial office holders who sit in the courts of Scotland and make decisions in both civil and criminal cases. Judges make sure that cases and verdicts are within the parameters set by Scots law, and they must hand down appropriate judgments and sentences. Judicial independence is guaranteed in law, with a legal duty on Scottish Ministers, the Lord Advocate and the Members of the Scottish Parliament to uphold judicial independence, and barring them from influencing the judges through any form of special access.
Eleri Mair Rees is a Welsh judge. Since 18 June 2012, she has been the Resident Judge of Cardiff Crown Court and Recorder of Cardiff. She has been a circuit judge since 2002. She was called to the bar in 1975, and served as a Justices' clerk from 1983 to 1994 and as a stipendiary magistrate between 1994 and 2002.