Senior Courts Act 1981

Senior Courts Act 1981

The Senior Courts Act 1981, originally known as the Supreme Court Act 1981, is a piece of legislation enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The primary purpose of the Act is to outline the structure and jurisdictions of the Senior Courts of England and Wales, which were previously referred to as the Superior Courts. These Senior Courts encompass various judicial bodies, including the Court of Appeal, High Court of Justice, the Employment Appeal Tribunal, and the Crown Court.

A significant development related to this Act occurred with the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which established a new entity called the Supreme Court. On October 1, 2009, the Supreme Court replaced the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. To prevent confusion arising from the coexistence of the two terms, the Supreme Court Act 1981 underwent a name change and became the Senior Courts Act 1981. Consequently, all statutory references to the Supreme Court of England and Wales were adjusted to reflect the Senior Courts of England and Wales. It is essential to note that the term Supreme Court in the 1981 Act referred to the Supreme Court of England and Wales before the establishment of the 2009 Supreme Court.

Section 75 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 empowers the Lord Chief Justice to issue directions related to the classification of the business of the Crown Court and the allocation of cases to specific Crown Court centres. Several practice directions, such as those dated May 26, 1995, June 30, 1998, and January 10, 2000, have been issued pursuant to this section.

Additionally, Section 84 of the Act serves to replace Section 99 of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act 1925 and Section 15 of the Courts Act 1971. This replacement reflects the evolution and consolidation of legal provisions over time.
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