Judicial Profiles - Master of the Rolls

The Master of the Rolls is one of the Heads of Division. He or she is also the leading judge dealing with the civil work of the Court of Appeal, presiding over the most difficult and sensitive cases.

The Master of the Rolls also officially authorises solicitors to practice. As a Head of Division and Member of the Privy Council, the Master of the Rolls is given the prefix 'Right Honourable'.

Who is the Master of the Rolls?

The Master of the Rolls was originally responsible for the safe-keeping of charters, patents and records of important court judgments written on parchment rolls. He still has responsibility for documents of national importance, being Chairman of the Advisory Council on Public Records and Chairman of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts.

The Master of the Rolls is, by virtue of his office, a judge of the Court of Appeal and acts as the president of its Civil Division - which he also organises. He is responsible for the deployment and organisation of the work of the judges of the division as well as presiding in one of its courts.

He normally sits with two Lords Justices of Appeal and there is occasionally a third member such as a retired Lord Justice. The most complex cases traditionally come before the Master of the Rolls.

The Master of the Rolls is regarded as second in judicial importance to the Lord Chief Justice. He is consulted on matters such as the civil justice system and rights of audience. He also deals with professional rules and regulations dealing with solicitors and appeals against rulings of the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal.

Appointment

The Master of the Rolls is appointed by The Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, advised by the Lord Chancellor after consultation with senior members of the judiciary.

Heads of Division are generally appointed from amongst the Lords Justices.

Court Dress

The Master of the Rolls wears a court coat and waistcoat or a sleeved waistcoat, with skirt or trousers and bands, a black silk gown and a short wig.