What is Chancery
Chancery Chambers is named for the work once carried out by the Courts of Chancery.
The High Court of Chancery in the United Kingdom was the Court that developed from the Lord Chancellor’s jurisdiction. The Chancellor was the Keeper of the King’s Seal, called The Great Seal, which was needed to start a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas (thus the Common Law), a very strict formal Court which sometimes yielded unfair and unreasonable legalistic judgments, but no justice. However, the victim could Petition the King to exercise his discretion for a “fair and equitable” judgment overruling the unfair Common Law judgment. Thus, the Law of Equity was administered by the Chancellor on behalf of the King in the Court of Chancery, overruling the Common Law.
The reception of the Law of Equity in Australia was contained in the New South Wales Act 1823 (UK) and contained an express provision that the Supreme Court, about to be created by the Third Charter of Justice, should be a Court of Equity, with all the power of the Lord Chancellor to administer equitable jurisdiction as in England. It is primarily to this statutory provision that, as a matter of history, the Australian State Supreme Courts ultimately trace their equitable jurisdiction. It was as well that it was incorporated in the Act of 1823 because, in extending English law to New South Wales, s24 of the Australian Courts Act 1828 referred only to the reception or application of “all laws and statutes” in force in England. Interpreting statutes was a common law monopoly, and in those days, a Court composed of common lawyers might readily have held that such a description did not include equity.
In the United Kingdom, the High Court of Chancery was merged with the Courts of Law in 1873, and Judges given the power to administer law and equity. It survives as the Chancery Division of the High Court. In Victoria the merger of the powers of the Courts of Equity with the Courts of Law took place in 1878 (and thereafter in other States), thus making it possible for one to seek equitable relief at the same time as legal relief.
Chancery Chambers is a leading independent set of Barristers’ Chambers in Melbourne Australia, comprising 11 Senior Counsel and 14 junior counsel, as well as some interstate counsel, all practising in Commercial, Building Construction and Engineering, Tax and Revenue, Privacy, Family Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Barristers in these Chambers have reputations for the highest standards in advocacy and advisory opinion work. Our expertise spans a broad range of civil dispute resolutions including Court appearances, Arbitrations, Mediations and Expert Determinations. Within this broad range of advocacy expertise, individual Barristers concentrate on particular areas of practice. Drawing on a very wide range of skills amongst our Barristers, we are able to make available the appropriate level of seniority and expertise to meet clients’ individual needs. As Barristers we are retained to appear and advise in all jurisdictions throughout Australia.
From the curricula vitae on this website you will observe that all Counsel in Chancery Chambers are experienced in their fields. Each of us strive for excellence in our roles as legal advisors and advocates.
Established in 1997, our Chambers are centrally located in Melbourne at Levels 25 and 26, 200 Queen Street Melbourne Victoria Australia, offering facilities for Mediations and large conferences, and every assistance in litigation support that may be needed.
Chancery Chambers have had a long and distinguished association with the law, and are proud of its former members who have taken judicial office:
- The Hon Diana Bryant AO KC as Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia
- The Hon John R Dixon SC as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria
- Paul Cosgrave SC as a Judge of the County Court of Victoria
- The Hon Michael Whitten KC as Lord Chief Justice of the Kingdom of Tonga
- The Hon Lisa Nichols KC as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria
- The Hon Michael Osborne KC as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria
We encourage potential Barristers of the Victorian Bar to apply for Readership in our Chambers.
We welcome you to our website and to our Chambers.