King’s Bench Civil List
The work of the King’s Bench Division (not including the specialist courts such as the Administrative and Commercial Courts) consists mainly of civil claims for damages in respect of:
- personal injuries and fatal accidents;
- professional negligence, including clinical negligence;
- breach of contract;
- non-payment of a debt;
- false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution;
- Human Rights;
- and applications in relation to enforcement of judgments.
A High Court Judge is appointed to provide leadership to this part of the KB Division, known as ‘Judge in Charge of the KB Civil List’, currently Mr Justice Soole.
There is also a specialist Media and Communications List (MAC list) which deals with the main media torts (defamation, misuse of private information and claims under the Data Protection Act) and similar or related claims including malicious falsehood and harassment arising from publication or threatened publication by the print or broadcast media, online, on social media, or in speech.
Outside London, the work of the King’s Bench Division is administered in courts known as District Registries, in all the major provincial towns and cities. In practice the same court building houses a County Court and a District Registry.
In London, the work is administered in the Central Office at the Royal Courts of Justice. The work in the Central Office of the King’s Bench Division is the responsibility of the Senior Master, acting under the authority of the President of the King’s Bench Division. The Central Office is organised into the following sections, each with a member of HMCTS staff as a Team Leader:
- KB Issues and Inquiries
- KB Masters Listing
- KB Enforcement
- Foreign Process
- Children’s Funds
- KB Registry and Filing
- Fees Office
The KB Masters, led by the Senior Master, have an important role in the management of these cases, using their specialist knowledge to determine issues on an interlocutory basis, provide directions to trial, to dismiss or strike out claims or defences, try less complex claims and assessments of damages or decide when appropriate to refer applications to or direct trial before a High Court Judge. Of particular note is the work of the Masters in managing all cases involving asbestos related diseases including mesothelioma (a cancer most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos), and specialist Masters dealing with complex clinical negligence claims.
The Senior Master has a central role in relation to foreign process, election petitions, Deeds Poll and High Court enforcement. They, by virtue of office, also hold the additional office of King’s Remembrancer. This is largely a ceremonial post. The King’s Remembrancer is required to preside over the Trial of the Pyx and the Quit Rents Ceremony and is responsible for the nomination of certain High Sheriffs and the annual presentation of the Lord Mayor of London.
For a general explanation of the work and practice of the King’s Bench Division with particular regard to proceedings started in the Central Office, please view the comprehensive King’s Bench Division Guide 2022.