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High Court Masters, Costs Judges and Insolvency and Companies Court Judges

What they do

A Master is a judge who at first instance in the High Court deals with all aspects of a claim, from its issue until the trial, either by a High Court judge or a Master.

The Masters comprise: in the Queen’s Bench Division the Senior Master and nine Queen’s Bench Division Masters and one of the Queen’s Bench Division Masters is the Admiralty Registrar; in the Chancery Division the Chief Master and five Chancery Masters.

The Queen’s Bench and Chancery Masters and Insolvency and Companies Court Judges deal with most of the day-to-day work arising within their areas of jurisdiction, and in certain circumstances may also try actions. The majority of cases do not reach a trial as they are disposed of by summary trial, mediation or negotiated settlement.

The Senior Master is also the Prescribed Officer for Election Petitions, the Central Authority for foreign process judicial matters, the designated person responsible for High Court enforcement officers, the Registrar of the Register of High Court and Court of Appeal judgments, the Senior Registrar of the Register of Bills of Sale and the Queen’s Remembrancer.

The Insolvency and Companies Court Judges headed by the Chief Insolvency and Companies Court Judge, are specialist judges who deal with both personal and corporate insolvency and company law. They are judges who are responsible for much of the work issued in the Insolvency and Companies List of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales.

The Costs Judges, based in the Senior Courts Costs Office, decide the amounts of costs payable by one party to another at the conclusion of proceedings in the High Court and Court of Appeal. They also hear disputes about fees between solicitors and their clients and decide appeals as to the amounts of costs payable following criminal proceedings.

Where they sit

Masters, Costs Judges and Insolvency and Companies Court Judges have a nationwide jurisdiction but they principally sit in London.

Appointments

Masters, Costs Judges and Insolvency and Companies Court Judges are appointed by The Queen, after an open competition administered by the Judicial Appointments Commission. The statutory qualification for the offices of Master of the Queen’s Bench Division, Master of the Chancery Division, Admiralty Registrar, Costs Judge and Insolvency and Companies Court Judge of the High Court is a five-year right of audience in relation to all proceedings in any part of the High Court, or all proceedings in County Courts or Magistrates’ Courts.

Court dress

In open court, members of the High Court Masters Group, which includes Masters of the Chancery or Queen’s Bench Division, Insolvency Companies Court Judges and Costs Judges, wear the civil robe, with pink tabs at the neck and no wig.

Deputy Masters, Costs Judges and Insolvency and Companies Court Judges

Deputy Masters, Deputy Costs Judges and Deputy Insolvency and Companies Court Judges are appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission. The statutory qualification is the same as that for full-time office holders; a five-year right of audience for all proceedings in any part of the High Court, or all proceedings in County Courts or Magistrates’ Courts.

Their jurisdiction is the same as that for full-time office-holders.