S.6 (1) (a) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 establishes a Patents Court as part of the Chancery Division. It consists of such judges of the High Court as the Lord Chancellor may appoint from time to time. As of 27 May 2010 the following judges were judges of the Patents Court:
- Kitchin J
- Lewison L
- Mann J
- Warren J
- Floyd J
- Arnold J
- Morgan J
- Norris J
Kitchin J is the senior Patents Court judge. Since Kitchin, Floyd and Arnold JJ practised at the patent bar before they were elevated to the High Court they take the cases of the greatest technical difficulty.
S.62 (1) of the Act allocates to the Court “such proceedings relating to patents as are within the jurisdiction conferred on it by the Patents Act 1977, and such other proceedings relating to patents or other matters as may be prescribed.” CPR 63.2 (1) specifies those matters as any claim under the Patents Act 1977, the Registered Designs Act 1949 and the Defence Contracts Act 1958 and any claim relating to registered Community designs, semiconductor topography rights or plant varieties.
The Patents Court is based in the Royal Courts of Justice but its judges will site elsewhere, if the parties so desire, for the purpose of saving time or costs.
Unlike the rest of the High Court case management is dealt with by judges rather than by masters. Masters may deal with only a limited number of matters such as applications for extension of time, permission to serve out of the jurisdiction and security for costs.