Opening of the Legal Year

01 OCT 2008

The legal year begins today with the first of four court sitting terms of the year.

The 2008/2009 term dates are:

  • Michaelmas: 1 October 2008 - 19 December 2008
  • Hilary: 12 January 2009 - 8 April 2009
  • Easter: 21 April 2009 - 22 May 2009*
  • Trinity: 2 June 2009 - 31 July 2009

  • *Courts will not sit on Monday 4 May 2009 as this will be a Bank Holiday.

    The start of the legal year is marked by a procession of judges arriving at Westminster Abbey from the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand for a religious service, followed by the Lord Chancellor's 'breakfast' in the Great Hall in the Houses of Parliament.

    The service in Westminster Abbey dates back to the Middle Ages when judges prayed for guidance at the start of the legal term. Judges, whose courts were held in Westminster Hall, left the City and walked to the Abbey to take part in the service.

    The ceremonies now are more or less as they have always been but, instead of the two mile walk from the Royal Courts of Justice to Westminster Abbey, which has been the case since the late nineteenth century, the judges now travel by car.

    After the service the guests walk from Westminster Abbey to the Great Hall for the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice's breakfast.

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