- Inns of Court
The Inns of Court in
Londonare the professional associations to one of which every barrister in England and Wales (and those judges who were formerly barristers) must belong. They have supervisory and disciplinary functions over their members. The Inns also provide libraries, dining facilities and professional accommodation. Each also has a church or chapel attached to it and is a self-contained precinct where barristers traditionally train and practise, although growth in the legal profession, together with a desire to practise from more modern accommodation caused many barristers' chambers to move outside the precincts of the Inns of Court in the late 20th century.
History and composition
Several centuries ago the Inns of Court were any of a sizable number of buildings or precincts where barristers traditionally lodged, trained and carried on their profession.
Over the centuries the number of active Inns of Court was reduced to the present four:
The Inns are near the western boundary of the
City of London; nearby are the Royal Courts of Justice(opened in 1882; previously sat in Westminster Hall), which were placed in the legal quarter of London for convenience. Each inn is a substantial complex with a great hall, chapel, libraries, sets of chambers for many hundreds of barristers, and gardens, and covers several acres. The layout is similar to that of an " Oxbridge" college. The "chambers" were originally used as residences as well as business premises by many of the barristers, but today, with a small number of exceptions, they serve as offices only.
Membership and governance
Each of the four Inns of Court has three ordinary grades of membership: students, barristers, and Masters of the Bench or "
benchers". The benchers constitute the governing body for each Inn and appoint new members from among existing barrister members. As a rule, any barrister member of the Inn is eligible for appointment. In reality, appointments are made to those who become judges or who carry out work on behalf of the Inn, be it on committees or through the training of students and other junior members.
Barristers may choose which Inn to join, but can only apply to one Inn for scholarships. Scholarship amounts are similar across the Inns. Barristers may choose because they know someone already in an Inn, or there's a student association for one Inn at their university. It makes no real difference in the long run which Inn a barrister joins.
The senior bencher of each Inn is the Treasurer, a position which is held for one year only. Each Inn also has a Royal Bencher (although since the deaths of
Diana, Princess of Walesand HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, the Middle Templehas been without one). They also appoint Additional Benchers, from academics, the world of politics and overseas judiciary.
The Inns of Court no longer provide all the education and training needed by prospective barristers, who must pass the
Bar Vocational Course, but do provide supplementary education during the 'Bar School' year, pupillageand the early years of practice. All prospective Bar School students must be a member of one of the four Inns. The Inns still retain the sole right to call qualified students to the bar, a right currently found in section 27(3) of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990.
The four inns are close to one another in central London. Middle Temple and Inner Temple are liberties of the
City of London, which means they are within the historic boundaries of the City but are not subject to its jurisdiction. They operate as their own local authorities. The closest tube station is Temple.
Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn are in the
London Borough of Camden(formerly in the Borough of Holborn) near the boundary with the City of London. They do not have the status of local authority. The nearest tube station is Chancery Lane.
Another important inn, Serjeants' Inn, was dissolved in 1877 and its assets were, controversially, distributed amongst the existing members. The membership of the Inn had consisted of a small class of senior barristers called
Serjeants-at-law, who were selected from the members of the other four inns and had exclusive rights of audience in certain Courts. Their pre-eminence was affected by the new rank of Queen's Counsel, which was granted to barristers who were not serjeants. The serjeant's privileges were withdrawn by the government in the 19th century, no more serjeants were appointed, and they eventually died out. The area now known as Serjeants' Inn, one of two sites formerly occupied by the Serjeants, the other being in Chancery Lane, was purchased by the Inner Temple in 2002.
It was formerly the custom for senior judges to join Serjeants' Inn, thereby leaving the Inn in which they had practised as barristers. This meant that the Masters of the Bench of the four barristers' Inns of Court were mostly themselves barristers. Since there is now no Serjeants' Inn, judges remain in the Inns which they joined as students and belonged to as barristers. This has had the effect of making the majority of the Masters of the Bench senior judges, either because they become benchers when appointed as judges, or because they become judges after being appointed as benchers.
There were also minor
Inns of Chancery, including Clement's Inn, Clifford's Innand Lyon's Inn(attached to the Inner Temple); Strand Innand New Inn (attached to the Middle Temple); Furnival's Innand Thavie's Inn(attached to Lincoln's Inn); and Staple Innand Barnard's Inn(attached to Gray's Inn). There were and are only four Inns of Court, which have a special and historic status including, for example, the authority to call members to the Bar and therefore confer on them rights of audience in the High Court. The other Inns (none of which continues to function), including the Inns of Chancery, were not Inns of Court.
There is also an Inn of Court of Northern Ireland. In the
Republic of Ireland, there is only one Inn of Court, the Honorable Society of King's Inns.
In the United States
From the late 1970s, U.S. Chief Justice
Warren Burgerled a movement to create Inns of Court in the United States. Although they are loosely modeled after the traditional English Inns, American Inns of Courtdo not include any real property. They are groups of judges, practicing attorneys, law professors and students who meet regularly to discuss and debate issues relating to legal ethics and professionalism. American Inn of Court meetings typically consist of a shared meal and a program presented by one of the Inn's pupillage teams. Chief Justice Burger and others established the American Inns of Court Foundationin 1985 to promote and charter Inns of Court across the United States.
The U.S. does not require attorneys to be a member of an Inn of Court, and many of the equivalent functions are performed by
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Inns of Court — 1: the four sets of buildings in London belonging to four societies of students and practitioners of the law 2: the four societies that alone admit to practice at the English bar Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 … Law dictionary
Inns of Court — (engl., spr. kört), in England Gesamtname der freien Innungen oder Assoziationen der Rechtsgelehrten und der die Rechtswissenschaft Studierenden, deren es in London vier gibt (s. Barrister). Dann Bezeichnung der großen, prächtigen Gebäude oder… … Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon
Inns of Court — ˌInns of ˈCourt also Inns noun [plural] LAW four societies in London whose members have the right to act as barrister S (= lawyers who can argue cases in the higher courts) … Financial and business terms
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Inns of Court — (spr. kohrt), die engl. Rechtskorporationen mit Rechtsschulen zum Studium des gemeinen Rechts … Kleines Konversations-Lexikon
Inns of court — (engl. – kohrt), s. Barrister; i. of chancery (tschänseri), die Anstalten, in welchen die künftigen Kanzleibeamten gebildet werden … Herders Conversations-Lexikon
Inns of Court — Inns of Court, the the four law societies and their buildings in London, for students and practising ↑barristers, which an English barrister must belong to. The four societies are Lincoln s Inn, the Inner Temple, the Middle Temple, and Gray s Inn … Dictionary of contemporary English
Inns of Court — Inns′ of Court′ n. 1) law the four legal societies in England that have the exclusive privilege of calling candidates to the bar 2) law the buildings occupied by these societies … From formal English to slang
Inns of Court — n. [see INN, 3] 1. the four legal societies in London having the exclusive right to admit persons to practice at the bar 2. the four groups of buildings ( Gray s Inn, Lincoln s Inn, Inner Temple, and Middle Temple) belonging to these societies … English World dictionary