Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Bench Definition:

A judge in court session.

Related Terms: King's Bench, Queen's Bench

Originally, and literally, the seat of the judge; his bench.

Now, as a legal term, a judge in court session or membership of a particular court. For example, Judge Jonathan Solomon sits on the bench of the Ontario Provincial Court. Or the bench of the BC Supreme Court is comprised of 101 members".

Similarly, a bench warrant is a warrant for an individual's arrest which is issued by a court itself or right off the judge's bench.

O'Hare and Sonnermann:

"Bench: Historically, the bench was the seat on which the judge or magistrate sat in Court. The term is now used to designate the collective profession of judges and magistrates."

John Bouvier's law dictionary:

"Bench: A tribunal for the administration of justice.

"The judges taken collectively, as distinguished from counselors and advocates (lawyers) who are called to the bar."

The English Court of Common Pleas was, formerly, known as, simply, Bancus. The Court of King's Bench, Bancus Regis.


  • O'Hare, C. and Sonnermann, J. A., Australian Legal Terms (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1980), page 12.
  • Oxford v Berry, 170 NW 83 (1918)

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