Court of King's Bench (Ireland)

The Court of King's Bench (of Queen's Bench when the sovereign was female, and formerly of Chief Place[1] or Chief Pleas[2]) was one of the senior courts of common law in Ireland. It was a mirror of the Court of King's Bench in England. The King's Bench was one of the "Four Courts" which sat in the building in Dublin which is still known as "The Four Courts", and is still in use.

The Four Courts, present day

Origins edit

According to Elrington Ball,[3] the Court called the King's Bench can be identified as early as 1290. It was fully operational by 1324, headed by the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, who was assisted by at least one, and usually, two or more associate justices, although for brief periods the Chief Justice was forced to sit alone, due to the lack of a suitably qualified colleague. A Statute of 1410 provided that a trial in King's Bench set down for a specific county must proceed there, and must not be moved to another venue without good reason.[4] By 1612 the workload, even with a full bench of four judges, was so heavy and the backlog of cases so large, that Sir William Sparke was appointed an extra justice of the Court (he later became fourth Justice), to avoid the protraction of lawsuits, and to ride the circuits (which many judges were reluctant to do, due to the condition and danger of the roads).[3]

Role edit

The King's Bench was the principal court of criminal jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction, and its Chief Justice was the most senior judge in Ireland after the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Its workload was more onerous than that of the Court of Exchequer and the Court of Common Pleas (although the Crown regarded the Exchequer as more important, due to its central role in detecting fraud and collecting revenue). There was a tradition that King's Bench judges must be of a higher professional calibre than those of the other common law courts.[3] In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Crown expressed a strong preference for appointing English-born judges to the King's Bench, and especially to the office of Lord Chief Justice.[3] From the beginning of the eighteenth century however no objection was made to the appointment of Irish-born judges.

Abolition edit

The Court of Queen's Bench was abolished in 1878 by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877 and its jurisdiction passed to the Queen's Bench Division of a new High Court of Justice in Ireland. The High Court was itself abolished by Section 40 of the Government of Ireland Act 1920. That section created a High Court in Northern Ireland, which still contains a Queen's Bench Division, with similar jurisdiction to its counterpart in England and Wales. In the Republic of Ireland the jurisdiction passed to the new High Court of Ireland.

See also edit

References edit

Sources edit

  • Commissioners of Inquiry into Courts of Justice in Ireland (1819). Sixth report (Court of King's Bench) with appendix. Sessional papers. Vol. 12 6. Retrieved 10 September 2016.

Citations edit

  1. ^ Murray, Robert H. (Robert Henry) (1919). A short guide to the principal classes of documents preserved in the Public record office, Dublin. Helps for Students of History. Vol. 7. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. p. 41.; Morrin, James, ed. (1863). "5 Charles I [1629] membrane 32". Calendar of the patent and close rolls of chancery in Ireland. Vol. 1 to 8 Charles I. Dublin: HMSO. p. 450. Retrieved 23 March 2021. commonly called the Court of Chief Place or King's Bench; Hamilton, Hans Claude; Atkinson, Ernest G.; Mahaffy, Robert Pentland, eds. (1910). "21 October 1669". Calendar of the State Papers Relating to Ireland; Preserved in the Public Record Office. Vol. September 1669–December 1670, with Addenda, 1625–70. London: HMSO. p. 328. ISBN 978-1-55429-618-7. James, Lord Santry, Chief Justice of our Court of Chief Place [King's Bench]
  2. ^ "Examination of Elizabeth Moore". 1641 Depositions. Trinity College Dublin. 19 November 1641. Archived from the original on 25 September 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2021. Sir Gerrard Lowther Knight Lord Chief Justice of his Maiesties Court of Chief Pleas
  3. ^ a b c d Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221–1921 John Murray London 1926
  4. ^ 11 Henry IV c.20