The Chancellor of the High Court – known as the Vice Chancellor prior to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 – is the president of the Chancery Division of the High Court and vice-president of the Court of Protection.
The Chancery Division deals with the resolution of disputes involving property in all its forms, ranging from commercial, business, intellectual property and competition disputes to its traditional work relating to companies, partnerships, mortgages, insolvency, land and trusts. The Chancellor of the High Court is also an ex officio (meaning belonging because he holds another post) judge of the Court of Appeal. As a member of the Privy Council, he or she is entitled to the prefix ‘The Right Honourable’.
The office of Vice-Chancellor was created in 1813 to assist the Lord Chancellor. He could then decide only cases specially delegated to him by the Lord Chancellor.
In 1842, two further Vice-Chancellors were appointed and this became permanent in 1852. The office disappeared in the reorganisation of 1873.
In 1970, the Lord Chancellor was authorised to appoint a Vice-Chancellor from amongst the Chancery Division High Court judges to organise and manage the business of the division and be its everyday head.
S.10(3)(a) Senior Courts Act 1981 provides that only a judge of the Court of Appeal or person qualified for appointment to the Court of Appeal is eligible for appointment as Chancellor of the High Court.
Court working dress
The Chancellor of the High Court wears the new civil robe in court, and a gold robe for ceremonial occasions.