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King's Bench or Queen's Bench

court division royal justice

The highest common-law court in England until its end as a separate tribunal in 1875.

The Court of the King's Bench or Court of the Queen's Bench derived from the royal court first established by William the Conqueror in the eleventh century. The royal court, called the curia regis, was not a judicial body in the modern sense. Rather, it was an assembly of English lords and noblemen that resolved matters of special importance to the king. As the king traveled about England, the royal court followed, advising him and deciding cases.

The royal court was reorganized by the Crown in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and renamed the Court of the King's Bench or Court of the Queen's Bench. This court existed as an alternative to the Court of Common Pleas, which was comprised of professional judges. At first the two courts heard different types of cases. However, over the course of several centuries, the Court of the King's Bench or Court of the Queen's Bench expanded its jurisdiction to hear virtually any case. This encroached on the power of the Court of Common Pleas, and the two courts competed for cases.

In 1873 Parliament abolished the Court of the King's Bench or Court of the Queen's Bench—then under Queen Victoria—and merged it into the High Court of Justice as the King's Bench Division. The King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice is empowered to hear appeals of certain cases. The High Court of Justice is akin to a U.S. trial court. It has two other divisions: the Family Division and the Chancery Division.

FURTHER READINGS

Kambour, Sarah Obaditch. 1994. "Symposium on the U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry in the 1990s: Facing Health Care Reform, Regulation, and Judicial Controls." Seton Hall Law Review 24.

CROSS-REFERENCES

English Law.

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