Supreme Court (now known as Senior Courts) Act 1981

Publication Date:January 01, 1981


Supreme Court Act 1981

1981 CHAPTER 54

An Act to consolidate with amendments the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act 1925 and other enactments relating to the Supreme Court in England and Wales and the administration of justice therein; to repeal certain obsolete or unnecessary enactments so relating; to amend Part VIII of the Mental Health Act 1959, the Courts-Martial (Appeals) Act 1968, the Arbitration Act 1979 and the law relating to county courts; and for connected purposes.

[28th July 1981]

B e it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I CONSTITUTION OF SUPREME COURT

Part I

CONSTITUTION OF SUPREME COURT

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court

S-1 The Supreme Court.

1 The Supreme Court.

(1) The Supreme Court of England and Wales shall consist of the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Justice and the Crown Court, each having such jurisdiction as is conferred on it by or under this or any other Act

(2) The Lord Chancellor shall be president of the Supreme Court

The Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal

S-2 The Court of Appeal.

2 The Court of Appeal.

(1) The Court of Appeal shall consist of ex-officio judges and not more than eighteen ordinary judges

(2) The following shall be ex-officio judges of the Court of Appeal—

( a ) the Lord Chancellor

( b ) any person who has been Lord Chancellor

( c ) any Lord of Appeal in Ordinary who at the date of his appointment was, or was qualified for appointment as, an ordinary judge of the Court of Appeal or held an office within paragraphs ( d ) to ( g );

( d ) the Lord Chief Justice;

( e ) the Master of the Rolls;

( f ) the President of the Family Division; and

( g ) the Vice-Chancellor;

but a person within paragraph ( b ) or ( c ) shall not be required to sit and act as a judge of the Court of Appeal unless at the Lord Chancellor's request he consents to do so.

(3) The ordinary judges of the Court of Appeal (including the vice-president, if any, of either division) shall be styled ‘Lords Justices of Appeal’.

(4) Her Majesty may by Order in Council from time to time amend subsection (1) so as to increase or further increase the maximum number of ordinary judges of the Court of Appeal.

(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 Court of Appeal shall be taken to be duly constituted notwithstanding any vacancy in the office of Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Rolls, President of the Family Division or Vice-Chancellor.

S-3 Divisions of Court of Appeal.

3 Divisions of Court of Appeal.

(1) There shall be two divisions of the Court of Appeal, namely the criminal division and the civil division.

(2) The Lord Chief Justice shall be president of the criminal division of the Court of Appeal, and the Master of the Rolls shall be president of the civil division of that court.

(3) The Lord Chancellor may appoint one of the ordinary judges of the Court of Appeal as vice-president of both divisions of that court, or one of those judges as vice-president of the criminal division and another of them as vice-president of the civil division.

(4) When sitting in a court of either division of the Court of Appeal in which no ex-officio judge of the Court of Appeal is sitting, the vice-president (if any) of that division shall preside.

(5) Any number of courts of either division of the Court of Appeal may sit at the same time.

The High Court

The High Court

S-4 The High Court.

4 The High Court.

(1) The High Court shall consist of—

( a ) the Lord Chancellor;

( b ) the Lord Chief Justice;

( c ) the President of the Family Division;

( d ) the Vice-Chancellor; and

( e ) not more than eighty puisne judges of that court.

(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 maximum number of puisne judges of the High Court.

(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 Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice, President of the Family Division or Vice-Chancellor.

S-5 Divisions of High Court.

5 Divisions of High Court.

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

( a ) the Chancery Division, consisting of the Lord Chancellor, 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, who shall be president thereof, 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 of the Lord Chancellor; and any such judge may with his consent be transferred from one Division to another by direction of 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 Lord Chancellor made with the concurrence of the senior judge of each of those Divisions.

(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.

S-6 The Patents, Admiralty and Commercial Courts.

6 The Patents, Admiralty and Commercial Courts.

(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 Lord Chancellor may from time to time nominate to be judges of the Patents Court, Admiralty Judges and Commercial Judges respectively.

S-7 Power to alter Divisions or transfer certain courts to different Divisions.

7 Power to alter Divisions or transfer certain courts to different Divisions.

(1) Her Majesty may from time to time, on a recommendation of 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 the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Family Division and the Vice-Chancellor.

(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.

The Crown Court

The Crown Court

S-8 The Crown Court.

8 The Crown Court.

(1) The jurisdiction of the Crown Court shall be exercisable by—

( a ) any judge of the High Court; or

( b ) any Circuit judge or Recorder; or

( c ) subject to and in accordance with...

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