Chancellor of the High Court

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

The Chancellor of the High Court is the head of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales. Before October 2005, when certain provisions of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 took effect, the office was known as the Vice-Chancellor. He nominally acted as the Lord Chancellor's deputy in the English legal system; however, he was in effect the head of the Chancery Division. Despite the change of title, the duties of the office did not change.

From 1813 to 1875, puisne judges of the Court of Chancery were also called Vice-Chancellors.


A similar position existed in Ireland between 1867 and 1904 when the office was abolished; surprisingly throughout that period it was held by one man, Hedges Eyre Chatterton.

Vice-Chancellors, 1813–1875

Because of an increased in case load in the Court of Chancery for its two judges (the Lord Chancellor and the Master of the Rolls), an additional judicial office, called the Vice-Chancellor of England, was created by the Administration of Justice Act 1813 share the work. With the transfer of the equity jurisdiction to the Court of Chancery from the Court of Exchequer, two more such posts 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. After Lancelot Shadwell (the Vice-Chancellor of England at the time the bill came into effect) left office, the three Vice-Chancellors were to be of equal status, with the "of England" dropped. In 1851, the law was changed so that a successor to Wigram could be named (George Turner), but again with the caveat that no future successor could be appointed. This restriction was lifted by section 52 of the Master in Chancery Abolition Act 1852.

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, and new judges of the Chancery Division were styled "Mr. Justice ..." like other High Court judges (which style had previously been used for judges of the common law courts).

Vice-Chancellors, 1971–2005

A new office of Vice-Chancellor 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 (who was president of the Chancery Division) and was responsible to the latter for administering the division.[18] The Senior Courts Act 1981 made the position one appointed by the Queen (like the President of the Family Division)[19] and made the Vice-Chancellor vice-president of the Chancery Division.[20]

Chancellor of the High Court, 2005–present

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,[26] but some of the responsibilities (including the presidency of the division) did not transfer until 3 April 2006.[27] The Constitutional Reform Act retained the position of Vice-Chancellor as vice-president of the Chancery Division,[28] though it does not appear anyone has been appointed to the position or who would make or be eligible for such an appointment.

  • 1 October 2005: Sir Andrew Morritt (Vice-Chancellor before the relevant provisions of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 came into effect on 1 October 2005.)
  • 11 January 2013: Sir Terence Etherton[29]

See also


  1. The London Gazette: no. 16718. p. 699. 6–10 April 1813.
  2. The London Gazette: no. 17324. p. 147. 20 January 1818.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 18358. p. 985. 4 May 1827.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 18410. p. 2250. 2 November 1827.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The London Gazette: no. 20032. p. 2652. 29 October 1841.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 21150. p. 2883. 5 November 1850.
  7. The London Gazette: no. 21162. p. 3388. 13 December 1850.
  8. The London Gazette: no. 21197. p. 917. 4 April 1851.
  9. 9.0 9.1 The London Gazette: no. 21255. p. 2751. 20 October 1851.
  10. The London Gazette: no. 21360. p. 2527. 21 September 1852.
  11. The London Gazette: no. 21401. p. 72. 11 January 1853.
  12. The London Gazette: no. 23194. p. 6757. 4 December 1866.
  13. The London Gazette: no. 23361. p. 1647. 11 March 1868.
  14. The London Gazette: no. 23456. p. 49. 5 January 1869.
  15. The London Gazette: no. 23631. p. 3265. 5 July 1870.
  16. The London Gazette: no. 23729. p. 1922. 18 April 1871.
  17. The London Gazette: no. 24033. p. 4901. 11 November 1873.
  18. Administration of Justice Act 1970, c. 31 s. 5. (as enacted).
  19. Senior Courts Act 1981, c. 54 s. 10. (as enacted).
  20. Senior Courts Act 1981, s. 5. (as enacted).
  21. Who's Who 1986
  22. The London Gazette: no. 50145. p. 7817. 6 June 1985.
  23. The London Gazette: no. 52677. p. 15091. 4 October 1991.
  24. The London Gazette: no. 53811. p. 14001. 6 October 1994.
  25. The London Gazette: no. 55920. p. 8033. 21 July 2000.
  26. Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (Commencement No. 3) Order 2005, SI 2005/2505 art 2.
  27. Constitutional Reform Act (Commencement No. 5 Order) 2006, SI 2006/1014 sch 1.
  28. Senior Courts Act 1981, s. 5. (as amended by Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Sch. 4, para. 118(2).
  29. The London Gazette: no. 60392. p. 674. 15 January 2012.
  • A History of English Law, Vol. I, by Sir William Holdsworth (Methuen & Co, 1961 reprint)
  • Twentieth-Century British Political Facts 1900–2000, by David Butler and Gareth Butler (Macmillan Press 2000)
  • Joseph Haydn, The Book of Dignities, 1894

External links