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lord chief justice

lord chief justice. The second highest post in the judicial ranking. Since the days of Sir Edward Coke, the chief justice of King's Bench has informally used the title of lord chief justice. It is only since 1875 that it has been the statutory title of the president of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice. With the creation of the High Court, in 1875, it was decided there was no necessity to retain three separate common law divisions. However it was important to avoid the demotion, or compulsory retirement, of the senior judges as this would have broken the constitutional principle that judges were irremovable. In 1880 the deaths of Sir Alexander Cockburn (chief justice of Queen's Bench) and Sir Fitzroy Kelly (chief baron of the Exchequer) meant that the offices of chief justice of Common Pleas and chief baron of the Exchequer could be abolished. The Exchequer and Common Pleas were merged with the Queen's Bench Division and Lord Coleridge, former chief justice of Common Pleas, became lord chief justice of England. Unlike the lord chancellor, the lord chief justice has no political role and remains in office after a change of government.

Richard A. Smith

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