The work of the Queen’s Bench Division (not including the specialist courts such as the Administrative and Commercial Courts) consists mainly of claims for damages in respect of:
- personal injury and fatal accident;
- professional negligence, including clinical negligence;
- breach of contract;
- libel and slander (defamation);
- non-payment of a debt;
- False imprisonment, and;
- Human Rights;
- and applications in relation to enforcement of judgments.
The QB deals with about 5500 of these cases per year. A High Court Judge is appointed to provide leadership to this part of the QB Division, known as ‘Judge in Charge of the QB Civil List’.
Outside London, the work of the Queen’s Bench Division is administered in courts known as District Registries, in all the major provincial towns and cities. In practice the same court building houses a County Court and a District Registry.
In London, the work is administered in the Central Office at the Royal Courts of Justice. The work in the Central Office of the Queen’s Bench Division is the responsibility of the Senior Master, acting under the authority of the President of the Queen’s Bench Division. The Central Office is organised into the following sections, each with a member of HMCTS staff as a Team Leader:
- QB Issues and Inquiries
- QB Masters Listing
- QB Enforcement
- Foreign Process
- Children’s Funds
- QB Registry and Filing
- Fees Office
The QB Masters, led by the Senior Master, have an important role in the management of these cases, using their specialist knowledge to determine issues on an interlocutory basis, provide directions to trial, to dismiss or strike out claims or defences, try less complex claims and assessments of damages or decide when appropriate to refer applications to or direct trial before a High Court Judge. Of particular note is the work of the Masters in managing all cases involving asbestos related diseases including mesothelioma (a cancer most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos), and specialist Masters dealing with complex clinical negligence claims.
The Senior Master has a central role in relation to foreign process, election petitions, Deeds Poll and High Court enforcement. He or she, by virtue of office, also holds the additional office of Queen’s Remembrancer. This is largely a ceremonial post. The Queen’s Remembrancer is required to preside over the Trial of the Pyx and the Quit Rents Ceremony and is responsible for the nomination of certain High Sheriffs and the annual presentation of the Lord Mayor of London.
For a general explanation of the work and practice of the Queen’s Bench Division with particular regard to proceedings started in the Central Office, please view the comprehensive Queen’s Bench Guide.