Puisne (from Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 puisné, modern puîné, later born, inferior; Lat. postea, afterwards, and natus, born) is a legal term of art used mainly in British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

 meaning "inferior in rank." It is pronounced like the word puny, and the word, so spelled, has become an ordinary adjective meaning weak or undersized.

The judges and barons of the common law courts at Westminster
Westminster is an area of central London, within the City of Westminster, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames, southwest of the City of London and southwest of Charing Cross...

, other than those having a distinct title, were called puisne. By the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1877
Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1877
The Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1877 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom enacted to provide the structure of the ordinary judges of the court of appeal, the appellate division of the High Court of Justice and Lord Justices of Appeal in England and Ireland.In England, the Act...

, a "puisne judge" is deemed a judge of the High Court
High Court of Justice
The High Court of Justice is, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...

 other than the Lord Chancellor
Lord Chancellor
The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

, the Lord Chief Justice of England, the Master of the Rolls
Master of the Rolls
The Keeper or Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England, known as the Master of the Rolls, is the second most senior judge in England and Wales, after the Lord Chief Justice. The Master of the Rolls is the presiding officer of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal...

, the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer
Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer
The Chief Baron of the Exchequer was the first "baron" of the English Exchequer of pleas. "In the absence of both the Treasurer of the Exchequer or First Lord of the Treasury, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was he who presided in the equity court and answered the bar i.e...

, and their successors respectively. See now the Senior Courts Act 1981
Senior Courts Act 1981
The Senior Courts Act 1981, originally named the Supreme Court Act 1981 , is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act defined in statute the structure of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, now known as the Senior Courts of England and Wales, consisting of the Court of Appeal,...

, section 4.

Puisne courts existed as lower courts in the early stages in the judiciary in British North America
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

, in particular Upper Canada
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...

 and Lower Canada
Lower Canada
The Province of Lower Canada was a British colony on the lower Saint Lawrence River and the shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence...


See also

  • Puisne Justice
    Puisne Justice
    A Puisne Justice or Puisne Judge is the title for a regular member of a Court. This is distinguished from the head of the Court who is known as the Chief Justice or Chief Judge. The term is used almost exclusively in common law jurisdictions such as England, Australia, Kenya, Canada, Sri Lanka,...

    – the title of a judge, other than the chief justice, of a superior court of a common law jurisdiction.
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