Until the Courts Act 1971, Chancery work in Manchester, Liverpool and Lancashire (the three areas of the County Palatine of Lancaster) was conducted in a separate court of the County Palatine, presided over by the Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster. Since 1971, the jurisdiction has been incorporated within the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, but the office of Vice-Chancellor was retained as the lead Chancery Judge in the area. It is the coat of arms of the Duke of Lancaster, not the Royal Arms, that adorns the Vice-Chancellor’s court in the Civil Justice Centre in Manchester.
From 1987, a High Court Judge was appointed Vice-Chancellor and a number of distinguished judges have since held that office, including Lord Scott of Foscote, Sir Andrew Morritt, Lord Justice Parker, Lord Justice Lloyd, Lord Justice Patten, Sir David Richards, Lord Briggs of Westbourne and Lord Justice Snowden.
With the arrival of the Business and Property Courts in the regions, the three specialist jurisdictions of the Chancery Division, the Circuit Commercial Court and the Technology and Construction Court have come together, in Manchester as in London. The Manchester Civil Justice Centre provides unrivalled facilities. In addition to the Vice-Chancellor, there are six full time specialist Circuit Judges who are authorised to sit as a judge of the High Court in Manchester. All six are authorised to hear cases in each of the three specialist jurisdictions. The senior Chancery judge is HHJ Hodge QC. There are six specialist district judges who hear Chancery cases in Manchester. Profiles of all the judges and district judges can be found on the Judges webpage.
Cases in all of the Chancery Division lists may be issued and heard in Manchester, regardless of the value or complexity of the case, except for cases in the Patents Court, the Revenue List and the Financial List, which must be issued in London. Competition law cases involving allegations of breach of articles 101 and 102 of the EU Treaty or their equivalents in Chapter I and II of the Competition Act 1998 must be issued in or transferred to London.