Overview of the Chancery Division

The Chancery Division is one of the three parts, or Divisions, of the High Court of Justice. The other two are the King’s Bench Division and the Family Division. The head of the Chancery Division is the Chancellor of the High Court (“the Chancellor”). There are currently 18 High Court judges attached to the Division. In addition, in London, there are six judges who are referred to as Masters (one of whom is the Chief Master), and six Insolvency and Companies Court Judges (one of whom is the Chief Insolvency and Companies Court Judge). There are also a number of Specialist Circuit Judges and District Judges who sit outside London and (in the case of the Circuit Judges) occasionally in London.

The Chancery Division undertakes civil work of many kinds, including specialist work such as companies, patents and contentious probate. The range of cases heard in the Chancery Division is wide and varied. The major part of the case-load today involves business or property disputes of one kind or another. Often these are complex and involve substantial sums of money.

In many types of case (e.g. claims for professional negligence against solicitors, accountants, valuers or other professionals), the claimant has a choice whether to bring the claim in the Chancery Division or elsewhere in the High Court. But there are other types of case which, in the High Court, must be brought in the Chancery Division including claims (other than claims in the Commercial Court) relating to the application of Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the equivalent provisions in the Competition Act 1998. There are also certain claims which must be started in the Chancery Division either in the High Court or in a District Registry where there is a Chancery District Registry.

The Chancery Division incorporates the Insolvency and Companies Court (opens in a new tab), the Patents Court (opens in a new tab) and the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) (opens in a new tab). The remainder of the work of the Division is referred to as General Chancery work.

Judges of the Chancery Division also sit as judges of the Court of Protection; in the Upper Tribunal (particularly the Tax Chamber); and in the Competition Appeal Tribunal.