High Court of Justice

High Court of Justice
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
Established1 November 1875[1]
JurisdictionEngland and Wales
LocationStrand, City of Westminster, London
Authorized by
Appeals to
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The High Court of Justice in London, known properly as His Majesty's High Court of Justice in England,[2] together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, are the Senior Courts of England and Wales. Its name is abbreviated as EWHC (England and Wales High Court) for legal citation purposes.

The High Court deals at first instance with all high value and high importance civil law (non-criminal) cases; it also has a supervisory jurisdiction over all subordinate courts and tribunals, with a few statutory exceptions, though there are debates as to whether these exceptions are effective.[3]

The High Court consists of three divisions: the King's Bench Division, the Chancery Division and the Family Division. Their jurisdictions overlap in some cases, and cases started in one division may be transferred by court order to another where appropriate. The differences of procedure and practice between divisions are partly historical, derived from the separate courts which were merged into the single High Court by the 19th-century Judicature Acts, but are mainly driven by the usual nature of their work, for example, conflicting evidence of fact is quite commonly given in person in the Kings's Bench Division, but evidence by affidavit is more usual in the Chancery Division which is primarily concerned with points of law.

Most High Court proceedings are heard by a single judge, but certain kinds of proceedings, especially in the Kings's Bench Division, are assigned to a divisional court—a bench of two or more judges. Exceptionally the court may sit with a jury, but in practice normally only in defamation cases or cases against the police. Litigants are normally represented by counsel but may be represented by solicitors qualified to hold a right of audience, or they may act in person.

In principle, the High Court is bound by its own previous decisions, but there are conflicting authorities as to what extent this is so. Appeal from the High Court in civil matters normally lies to the Court of Appeal, and thence in cases of importance to the Supreme Court (the House of Lords before 2009); in some cases a "leapfrog" appeal may be made directly to the Supreme Court. In criminal matters, appeals from the Kings's Bench Divisional Court are made directly to the Supreme Court.

The High Court is based at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in the City of Westminster, London. It has district registries across England and Wales and almost all High Court proceedings may be issued and heard at a district registry.

  1. ^ Wilson, Arthur (1875). "The Supreme Court of Judicature Acts 1873 and 1875. Schedule of Rules and Forms, and other Rules and Orders. With notes". archive.org. Stevens and Sons.
  2. ^ "Interpretation Act 1978, schedule 1". The National Archives.
  3. ^ "Anisminic Ltd v Foreign Compensation Commission [1968] UKHL 6 (17 December 1968)". www.bailii.org. Retrieved 25 January 2021.