Find out who supports the judiciary in their vital role, and how they are trained. On 26 July 2007 the House of Lords’ Select Committee on the Constitution published a report, Relations between the executive, the judiciary and Parliament. The judiciary’s response was sent to the Committee on 18 October 2007. The Assize of Clarendon ordered the remaining non-King’s Bench judges to travel the country – which was divided into different circuits – deciding cases. From that group evolved the justices in eyre, who possessed a mixed administrative and judicial jurisdiction.The justices in eyre were not, to put it mildly, popular. It’s doubtful that anyone asked to design a justice system would choose to copy the English and Welsh model. Hundreds of years of evolution may have resulted in an independent judiciary – but that doesn’t mean they were entirely separated from government. Because of this, the Lord Chancellor came to be known as the ‘King’s conscience’, and began to preside over his own court, the Court of Chancery. This didn’t always help: in 1350 the Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, William de Thorpe, was sentenced to death for bribery (he was later pardoned, but demoted). Gradually, these cases were delegated to the King’s council, and eventually to one individual – the Lord Chancellor. By the time he died in 1229 he was known as one of the finest lawyers in England; even 60 years after his death, his judgments were being searched for precedents. County courts, dealing with civil cases, were created under the County Courts Act 1846. On the face of it, the judiciary was becoming steadily more independent: in 1642, Charles I was forced to agree to the appointment of judges “during good behaviour”, and their salaries were raised from under £200 to £1,000 a year in 1645. In 1873, Parliament passed the Judicature Act which merged common law and equity. Lawrence de Brok, a serjeant, became a judge in 1268, starting the tradition, which lasted until 1875, of serjeants being the group from which judges were chosen. In 1346, judges were obliged to swear that “they would in no way accept gift or reward from any party in litigation before them or give advice to any man, great or small, in any action to which the King was a party himself”. Judiciary and Data Protection: Privacy Notice, Find out more about Judiciary and Data Protection: Privacy Notice, Judicial Press Office: COVID-19 arrangements. Chief Justice Lord Mansfield was in the Cabinet between 1757 and 1765, for example and more recently Lord Cave was Home Secretary for a couple of months at the end of the First World War when he was also a serving Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, or Law Lord. The first volume traces the long process of defining the judiciary within the relatively brief outline provided by the Constitution. But it’s far better than trial by ordeal, used until almost the end of the 12th century to determine guilt or innocence in criminal cases. The very first judges, back in the 12th century, were court officials who had particular experience in advising the King on the settlement of disputes. The Act establishes the Lord Chief Justice as President of the Courts of England and Wales and Head of its Judiciary, a role previously performed by the Lord Chancellor. Meanwhile, a new type of court began to evolve – that which we now recognise as the magistrates’ court. The 14th century saw members of the judiciary still involved in politics to some extent – for example, for ten years, Edward III’s Chancellors were common-law judges. Judy Hodgson (ed), The English Legal Heritage, Oyez Publishing, 1979. When Henry came to the throne, there were just 18 judges in the country – compared to more than 40,000 today. From that point, and continuing today, Justices of the Peace have undertaken the majority of the judicial work carried out in England and Wales (today, about 95 per cent of criminal cases are dealt with by magistrates). By the middle of the 13th century, knights had begun to join clerics on the bench. During this period judges gradually gained independence from the monarch and the government. Judicial independence is seen as being the most important part of the British legal system. It was not until 1830 that there was any change to the nearly 300-year-old assize courts. Read more about the history of the legal system in England and Wales. Crown Courts as we know them today were not actually established until 1956, and then only in Liverpool and Manchester. The justices in eyre were not, to put it mildly, popular. Local courts were presided over by a lord or one of his stewards. The system of judges sitting in London while others travelled round the country became known as the ‘assizes system’. This, supervised by the King and “wise men” of the realm, was the origin of the Court of Common Pleas. These were advocates who practised in the Court of Common Pleas. Judicial salaries were also increased, possibly to make them less dependent on other forms of income. So what is judicial independence? The Judicial Office is committed to ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilities. Even today, we know them as the ‘common law’. Criminal appeal rights remained limited until the establishment of a Court of Criminal Appeal under the Criminal Appeal Act 1907. Keep up to date with the latest news, judgments & publications. On the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, all judges – and there were just 12 at this point, four in each of the common law courts – remained in office. In 1387, six judges advised Richard II that a parliamentary commission set up to limit his own powers was ‘invalid and traitorous’. History of the judiciary. The Lord Chancellor’s role changed drastically on April 3 2006 as a result of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. In fact, they came to be regarded as instruments of oppression. Find out more about Who are the judiciary? Magistrates’ courts hark back to the Anglo-Saxon moot court and the manorial court, but their official birth came in 1285, during the reign of Edward I, when ‘good and lawful men’ were commissioned to keep the King’s peace. Fortunately, those who felt they had been failed by the common law system could still petition the King with their grievances. By the Law Terms Act of that year, the Court of Great Sessions was abolished and the Welsh counties and Chester were brought into the general circuit system. For the first time an express statutory duty is placed on the Lord Chancellor and other Ministers of the Crown to protect the independence of the judiciary. The executive has taken over the … Meanwhile, by the Elizabethan and early Stuart periods, assize judges on the six circuits in England were mainly dealing with the most serious crimes not normally handled by the local Quarter Sessions, run by JPs. What is the judiciary's place in the structure of the UK? Although one of the Divisions of the High Court is still called Chancery, all courts could now administer both equity and common law – with equity to reign supreme in any dispute. In 1178, Henry II first chose five members of his personal household – two clergy and three lay – “to hear all the complaints of the realm and to do right”. In 1553, Mary I also removed three judges from office, but Elizabeth I made no changes on assuming the throne – although she did remove one later during her reign. When you see a judge or magistrate sitting in court, you are actually looking at the result of 1,000 years of legal evolution. During the turbulent 15th century – the Wars of the Roses – judges stood apart from both the Houses of Lancaster and York, and were largely unaffected by the changes in government. The Court of Criminal Appeal sat for nearly 60 years, until its existence as a separate body was ended by the Criminal Appeal Act 1966. They were all impeached, convicted and sentenced to death, although only one was actually executed; the rest were banished to Ireland. Eventually, a new permanent court, the Court of the King’s Bench, evolved, and judicial proceedings before the King came to be seen as separate from proceedings before the King’s Council. Mirroring developments in the role and independence of judges were changes to the avenues of redress open to aggrieved parties. Trial by combat gradually fell into disuse for civil cases, although it wasn’t until someone involved in a dispute in 1818 tried to insist on it that it was realised this was still, technically, an option. Lists, statistics, biographies and how to become a judge. Unsurprisingly, for two centuries after this the judiciary kept almost entirely away from politics. Shortly afterwards, the new Central Criminal Court was set up, unifying the administration of justice in London and surrounding areas. The courts of Great Britain are Crown courts in that their jurisdiction is derived from the power of the Crown. The judiciary, the government and the constitution, Judicial Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2020/25, Lord Chief Justice: Judicial Equality and Diversity Statement, Pre-Application Judicial Education Programme (PAJE), Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts, Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice and guidance, Find out more about History of the judiciary, Find out more about The judiciary, the government and the constitution.