The Court of Appeal is based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, but has occasional sittings elsewhere in England and Wales. It consists of a Civil Division and a Criminal Division, which between them hear appeals in a wide range of cases covering civil, family and criminal justice. In some cases a further appeal lies, with leave, to the Supreme Court, but in practice the Court of Appeal is the final court of appeal for the great majority of cases.
The judges of the Court of Appeal are the Heads of Division (the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, the President of the Family Division and the Chancellor of the High Court) and the Lords Justices of Appeal, whose title is “Lord/Lady Justice [Surname]” or “[Surname] LJ” for short.
The Civil Division hears appeals from the High Court, county courts and certain tribunals such as the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. Its President is the Master of the Rolls. Cases are generally heard by three judges, consisting of any combination of the Heads of Division and Lords Justices of Appeal.
The Criminal Division hears appeals from the Crown Court. Its President is the Lord Chief Justice. Again, cases are generally heard by three judges, consisting of the Lord Chief Justice or the President of the Queen’s Bench Division or one of the Lords Justices of Appeal, together with two High Court Judges or one High Court Judge and one specially nominated Senior Circuit Judge.
The Heads of Division and Lords Justices of Appeal also sit on occasion with one or more High Court Judges in the Divisional Court, which hears appeals to the High Court from magistrates’ courts and certain judicial review cases at first instance.
All Court of Appeal judges are senior judges with lengthy judicial experience. Appointment is by The Queen on the recommendation of a selection panel convened by the Judicial Appointments Commission. The Heads of Division are selected in practice from the Lords Justices of Appeal, who in turn are selected from the ranks of the High Court Judges.
For criminal hearings Court of Appeal judges wear a court coat and waistcoat (or a sleeved waistcoat) with skirt or trousers and bands (two strips of fabric hanging from the front of a collar), a black silk gown and a short wig.
When presiding over civil cases this group of judges wear the civil robe introduced on 1 October 2008, with gold tabs at the neck of the gown and no wig.
Role of the clerk
Every Court of Appeal and High Court judge is assigned a clerk who provides first-line support based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.