PRACTICE DIRECTION 2B – ALLOCATION OF CASES TO LEVELS OF JUDICIARY

Contents of this Practice Direction

Title
Number
SECTION I - SCOPE AND INTERPRETATION
Para. 1.1
SECTION II - THE HIGH COURT
Injunctions, Pre-trial Orders and Interim Remedies
Para. 2
Early Trials
Para. 4.1
Assignment of Claims to Masters and Transfer between Masters
Para. 6.1
Freezing Orders: Cross Examination of Deponents about Assets
Para. 7
Human Rights
Para. 7A
Chancery Proceedings
Para. 7B
SECTION III - THE COUNTY COURT
Injunctions, Anti-social Behaviour Orders, Committal and Freezing Orders
Para. 8.1
Homelessness Appeals
Para. 9
Other pre-trial Orders and Interim Remedies
Para. 10.1
Trials and Assessments of Damages
Para. 11.1
Other Proceedings
Para. 12.1
Distribution of Business between Circuit Judge and District Judge
Para. 13
Human Rights
Para. 15
Appeals
Para. 16
 

SECTION I - SCOPE AND INTERPRETATION

1.1  Rule 2.4 provides that Judges, Masters and District Judges may exercise any function of the court except where an enactment, rule or practice direction provides otherwise. In respect of proceedings in the High Court, Section II of this Practice Direction sets out the matters over which Masters or District Judges do not have jurisdiction or which they may deal with only on certain conditions. References to Circuit Judges include Recorders and references to Masters and District Judges include Deputies.

1.1A  Circuit Judges and District Judges may exercise any jurisdiction conferred on the County Court or on a judge of the County Court. Section III of this Practice Direction sets out the matters that will be allocated to a Circuit Judge as well as those that may, or will normally, be allocated to a District Judge.

1.1B  This Practice Direction does not affect jurisdiction conferred by other enactments. Reference should also be made to other relevant Practice Directions (eg, Part 24, paragraph 3 and Part 26, paragraphs 12.1-10). The jurisdiction conferred on Masters and District Judges by this Practice Direction shall be exercised in accordance with directions from time to time provided by the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, the Chancellor of the High Court, the Presiding Judges, or the Chancery Supervising Judges.

1.1C  This Practice Direction is not concerned with family proceedings. It is also not concerned with proceedings in the Family Division except to the extent that such proceedings can be dealt with in the Chancery Division or the Family Division, eg, proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 or under section 14 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996. District Judges (including District Judges of the Principal Registry of the Family Division) have jurisdiction to hear such proceedings, subject to any Direction given by the President of the Family Division.

1.2  Masters or District Judges who have jurisdiction to hear a matter or to whom a matter has been allocated, may refer that matter to a Judge instead of dealing with it themselves.

1.3  For the purpose of this Practice Direction, in the County Court—

(a) ‘Circuit Judge’ means, in addition to a Circuit Judge, all judges of the Senior Courts, including retired and deputy judges of those courts, Recorders and Upper Tribunal judges (including the Senior President of Tribunals, Chamber Presidents, deputy Presidents of the Upper Tribunal and deputy judges of the Upper Tribunal, but excluding District Judges and District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts)) and the Judge Advocate General; and

(b) ‘District Judge’ means all other Courts and tribunal judges, and High Court Officers (for example, Masters and Registrars), including deputy or temporary High Court Officers, who are judges of the County Court under section 5 of the County Courts Act 1984.

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SECTION II - THE HIGH COURT

Injunctions, Pre-trial Orders and Interim Remedies

2.  Search orders (rule 25.1(1)(h)), freezing orders (rule 25.1(1)(f)) and an ancillary order under rule 25.1(1)(g) may only be made by a Judge.

3.1  A Master or District Judge may not make orders or grant interim remedies-

(a) relating to the liberty of the subject;

(b) relating to criminal proceedings or matters except procedural applications in appeals to the High Court (including appeals by case stated) under any enactment;

(c) relating to a claim for judicial review, except that interim applications in claims for judicial review may be made to Masters of the Queen’s Bench Division;

(d) relating to appeals from Masters or District Judges;

(e) in appeals against costs assessment under Parts 44 to 47, except on an appeal under rule 47.21 against the decision of an authorised court officer;

(f) in applications under section 42 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 by a person subject to a Civil or a Criminal or an All Proceedings Order (vexatious litigant) for permission to start or continue proceedings; or

g) in applications under section 139 of the Mental Health Act 1983 for permission to bring proceedings against a person.

3.1A  Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 3.1 a Master of the Crown Office or a Master of the Administrative Court may–

(a) make orders and grant interim remedies relating to claims for judicial review (including claims for judicial review relating to criminal causes, appeals under the Extradition Act 2003 and applications to vary bail conditions, provided the prosecutor does not oppose the variation);

(b) determine liability for costs and make summary assessments of costs in relation to claims for judicial review; and

(c) make orders and grant interim remedies relating to applications under section 42 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 for permission to start or continue claims for judicial review.

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Early Trials

4.1  A Master or District Judge may only give directions for early trial after consulting the Head of the relevant Division or a Judge nominated by the Head of Division.

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Assignment of Claims to Masters and Transfer between Masters

6.1  The Senior Master and the Chief Master will make arrangements for proceedings to be assigned to individual Masters. They may vary such arrangements generally or in particular cases, for example, by transferring a case from a Master to whom it had been assigned to another Master.

6.2  The fact that a case has been assigned to a particular Master does not prevent another Master from dealing with that case if circumstances require, whether at the request of the assigned Master or otherwise.

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Freezing Orders: Cross Examination of Deponents about Assets

7  Where the court has made a freezing order under rule 25.1(f) and has ordered a person to make a witness statement or affidavit about his assets and to be cross-examined on its contents, unless the Judge directs otherwise, the cross-examination will take place before a Master or a District Judge, or if the Master or District Judge directs, before an examiner of the Court.

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Human Rights

7A  A deputy High Court Judge, a Master or District Judge may not try –

(1) a case in a claim made in respect of a judicial act under the Human Rights Act 1998, or

(2) a claim for a declaration of incompatibility in accordance with section 4 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

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Chancery Proceedings

7B.1  In proceedings in the Chancery Division, a Master may not deal with the following without the consent of the Chancellor of the High Court–

(a) granting an indemnity for costs out of the assets of a company on the application of minority shareholders bringing a derivative action; or

(b) making orders in proceedings in the Patents Court except–

(i) orders by way of settlement, except settlement of procedural disputes;

(ii) applications for extension of time;

(iii) applications for permission to serve out of the jurisdiction;

(iv) applications for security for costs;

(v) other matters as directed by a judge of the court; and

(vi) enforcement of money judgments.

7B.2  In proceedings in the Chancery Division, a District Judge may not deal with the following without the consent of the Supervising Judge for the region in which the District Judge is sitting, or without the consent of their nominee–

(a) approving compromises (other than applications under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975) (i) on behalf of a person under disability where that person’s interest in a fund, or if there is no fund, the maximum amount of the claim, exceeds £100,000 or any larger sum specified by the Chancellor of the High Court and (ii) on behalf of absent, unborn and unascertained persons;

(b) making final orders under section 1(1) of the Variation of Trusts Act 1958, except for the removal of protective trusts where the interest of the principal beneficiary has not failed or determined;

(c) giving permission to executors, administrators and trustees to bring or defend proceedings or to continue the prosecution or defence of proceedings, and granting an indemnity for costs out of the trust estate;

(d) granting an indemnity for costs out of the assets of a company on the application of minority shareholders bringing a derivative action;

(e) making an order for rectification, except for–

(i) rectification of the register under the Land Registration Act 1925; or

(ii) alteration or rectification of the register under the Land Registration Act 2002.

7B.3  The consent of the Supervising Judge for a District Judge to deal with proceedings specified in paragraph 7B.2 may be given either in respect of an individual case, or in respect of the categories of cases listed at 7B.2(a) to (e). The consent of the Supervising Judge’s nominee may only be given in respect of an individual case.

7B.4  Where a winding-up order has been made against a company, any proceedings against the company by or on behalf of debenture holders may be dealt with, at the Royal Courts of Justice, by a Registrar and, in a District Registry with insolvency jurisdiction, by a District Judge.

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SECTION III - THE COUNTY COURT

Injunctions, Anti-social Behaviour Orders, Committal and Freezing Orders

8.1  Applications for orders and interim applications which may not be made or granted by a District Judge in the High Court may not be allocated to a District Judge in the County Court. In the first instance, the following applications for orders and interim remedies will be allocated to a District Judge—

(a) proceedings which have been allocated to a District Judge pursuant to paragraph 11.1 below;

(b) injunctions sought in money claims which have not yet been allocated to a track and the amount claimed does not exceed the fast track financial limit;

(c) injunctions that are to be made under any of the following provisions –

(i) section 153A, 153B or 153D of the Housing Act 1996;

(ii) section 3 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997;

(iii) sections 34, 40 or 41 of the Policing and Crime Act 2009; or

(iv) Part 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

8.1A  An application for an order under –

(1) section 1B or 1D of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (anti-social behaviour);

(2) section 26A, 26B or 26C of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 (parenting orders); and

(3) section 4 or 9 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 (drinking banning orders), may be allocated to a District Judge.

8.2  An application for an order varying or discharging an injunction or an undertaking given to the court may be allocated to a District Judge.

8.3  Any proceedings in which the Court may make an order committing a person to prison or attach a power of arrest to an injunction or remand a person will be allocated to a Circuit Judge, unless the order, power of arrest or remand is made pursuant to section 23 of the Attachment of Earnings Act 1971, section 14 and section 118 (but only in relation to proceedings before a District Judge) of the County Courts Act 1984, sections 153C,153D and 154-158 of and Schedule 15 to the Housing Act 1996; sections 36, 40-45 and 48 of, and Schedule 5 to, the Policing and Crime Act 2009, or Part 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, and the relevant rules.

8.4

(1) An application for a freezing order will be allocated to a Circuit Judge authorised for the purpose by the Master of the Rolls or the Deputy Head of Civil Justice.

(2) If a Circuit Judge makes a freezing order, paragraph 7 applies as appropriate.

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Homelessness Appeals

9  Appeals under section 204 or section 204A of the Housing Act 1996 will be
allocated to a Circuit Judge.

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Other pre-trial Orders and Interim Remedies

10  The proceedings specified paragraph 3.1(d) and (e) above will be allocated to a Circuit Judge.

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Trials and Assessments of Damages

11.1  The following proceedings referred to in paragraph 8.1(a) will normally be allocated to a District Judge—

(a) any claim which has been allocated to the small claims track or fast track or which is treated as being allocated to the multi-track under rule 8.9(c), or any claim referred to in the table at Section B of Practice Direction 8A, except claims:

(i) under Part I of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1927;

(ii) for a new tenancy under section 24 or for the termination of a tenancy under section 29(2) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954;

(iii) for an order under section 38 or 40 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987;

(iv) under paragraph 26 or 27 of Schedule 11 to or section 27 of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986;

(v) under section 45(2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 for a declaration of legitimation by virtue of the Legitimacy Act 1976;

(vi) under section 35, 38 or 40 of the Fair Trading Act 1973; or

(vii) under Part II of the Mental Health Act 1983.

(b) proceedings for the recovery of land, proceedings under section 82A(2) of the Housing Act 1985 or section 6A(2) of the Housing Act 1988 (demotion claims) or proceedings in the County Court under Chapter 1A of the Housing Act 1996 (demoted tenancies);

(c) the assessment of damages or other sum due to a party under a judgment without any financial limit; and

(d) any other proceedings with the direction or permission of the Designated Civil Judge or Supervising Judge or Supervising Judge’s nominee.

11.2

(1) A case allocated to the small claims track may only be assigned to a Circuit Judge to hear with their consent.

(2) A case may only be referred to a Circuit Judge under section 65 of the County Courts Act 1984 with their consent.

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Other proceedings

12

(1) Proceedings under the following enactments will be allocated to a Circuit Judge—

(a) sections 29 and 30 of the Literary and Scientific Institutions Act 1854;

(b) the Bankers Books Evidence Act 1879;

(c) section 1 of the Law of Distress Amendment Act 1895;

(d) the Stannaries Court (Abolition) Act 1896;

(e) section 6 of the Allotments Act 1922;

(f) the Chancel Repairs Act 1932;

(g) paragraph 7(b) of Schedule 8 to the Opencast Coal Act 1958;

(h) sections 57, 66, 101(3) and 121 of the County Courts Act 1984; and

(i) paragraph 6 of Schedule 18 to the Housing Act 1985.

(2) A request for the appointment of a court officer to take affidavits under section 56(1)(c) of the County Courts Act 1984, will be made to a Circuit Judge.

(3) Proceedings referred to in the following enactments will be allocated to a District Judge—

(a) sections 85, 101(1), 104 and Part VI of, and Schedule 1 to, the County Court’s Act 1984;

(b) section 49 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994;

(c) paragraphs 9 and 10 of Schedule 1 to the London Local Authorities Act 1996;

(d) paragraphs 6 and 7 of the Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003; and

(e) section 64 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

(4) In respect of any proceedings not referred to in this Section, if an enactment which specified the level of judge having jurisdiction to deal with those proceedings was amended by Schedule 9 to the Crime and Courts Act 2013 to confer jurisdiction on the County Court or a judge of the County Court, the proceedings will be allocated to a Circuit Judge or District Judge as if the enactment had not been so amended, unless any other enactment, rule or practice direction provides for the allocation of those proceedings.

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Distribution of Business between Circuit Judge and District Judge

13  In any case where proceedings may be allocated to either a Circuit Judge or a District Judge, allocation is subject to any arrangements made by the Designated Civil Judge for the proper distribution of business between Circuit Judges and District Judges.

14.1  In district registries of the High Court and in the County Court, the Designated Civil Judge may make arrangements for proceedings to be assigned to individual District Judges and may vary such arrangements generally or in particular cases, save that in cases proceeding in the Chancery Division or the County Court Chancery Business List those arrangements shall be made by the Supervising Judge
or their nominee.

14.2  The fact that a case has been assigned to a particular District Judge does not prevent another District Judge from dealing with the case if the circumstances require.

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Human Rights

15  A case in which an allegation of indirect discrimination is made against a public authority that would, if the court finds that it occurred, be unlawful under section 19B of the Race Relations Act 1976 will be allocated to a Circuit Judge.

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Appeals

16  The appeal of any decision by a District Judge in proceedings which, under this Section, should have been allocated to a Circuit Judge, will be determined as if that decision had been made by a Circuit Judge.

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Ministry of Justice

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