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Court of Appeal of England and Wales

The Court of Appeal is the second most senior court in the English Legal System (with only the judges of the House of Lords above it).

The senior judge is the Master of the Rolls, who also has a function in the registration of every solicitor in England and Wales. The Court also includes the Lord Chief Justice, who is at the same time the most senior judge of the High Court of England and Wales and thirty-five Lords Justices of Appeal.

The Court is divided into two Divisions- the Civil Division and the Criminal Division. The Master of the Rolls presides over the Civil Division, while the Lord Chief Justice does the same in the Criminal Division. Since the Lord Chief Justice is also the highest judge of a different court, he is assisted by a Lord Justice of Appeal with the title of "Vice-President of the Criminal Division."

In the Civil Division, the Master of the Rolls or a Lord Justice of Appeal may hear appeals. However, in the Criminal Division, in addition the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Justices of Appeal, a judge of the High Court may also hear an appeal. (The mixing of the Court of Appeal and the High Court is permissible since, technically, both are parts of one larger court reffered to as the Supreme Court. The Crown Court is the third member court of the Supreme Court.)

Because the volume of cases which come to the Court of Appeal is higher than come to the House of Lords it has been said that the Master of the Rolls is the most influential judge in England. Certainly, the most famous judge in recent legal history, Lord Denning was Master of the Rolls for many years.