The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

From The Official Judiciary Website

Opening of the Legal Year – 2 October 2006
The legal year traditionally begins in October and courts sit for four terms during the year. The 2006/2007 term dates are:

Michaelmas 2 October 2006 – 21 December 2006
Hilary 11 January 2007 – 4 April 2007
Easter 17 April 2007 – 25 May 2007
Trinity 5 June 2007 – 31 July 2007

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’ at Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament.


10.45am People start arriving at Westminster Abbey
11.30am Service begins
12.35pm Leave Westminster Abbey for Westminster Hall


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.
Before the Reformation it was customary to fast for several hours before taking communion during the service. After the ceremony the Lord Chancellor would offer the judge some food to break their fast before they took their seats in courts, hence the term ‘breakfast’.

Present Day

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.
The 45-minute service, which starts at 11:30am, is conducted by the Dean of Westminster. It includes prayers, hymns, psalms and anthems; the Lord Chancellor reads a lesson.
Around 1,000 people are invited to attend the service and breakfast. These include judges, senior judicial officers, the Law Officers, Queen's Counsel (QC), Government ministers, lawyers, members of the European Court and other overseas judges and lawyers. Judges and QCs wear ceremonial dress; the Lord Chancellor will wear a morning suit.
After the service the guests will walk from Westminster Abbey to Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster for the Lord Chancellor’s breakfast, which will consist of a light buffet.

Disruption of Ceremonies

Although well-established traditions, both ceremonies were cancelled on occasion during the last century. The breakfast was cancelled during the First World War and was only held four times during the 22 years 1931-1953. In 1940 the service had to be cancelled due to bomb damage in the Abbey and it was not held again until 1946. In 1953 the ceremony took place in St Margaret’s Church because structures and decorations for the Coronation in the Abbey had not been removed.

For the record:- No, I have not been invited, despite the fact that this blog has had 150,000 more visitors than the Magistrates' Association site.

I wouldn't want to go anyway. No I wouldn't.