Puisne (from Old French puisne, modern puîné, later born, inferior; Lat. postea, afterwards, and natus, born) is a term in law meaning "inferior in rank." It is pronounced "puny," and the word, so spelled, has become an ordinary adjective meaning weak or undersized.

The judges and barons of the common law courts at Westminster, other than those having a distinct title, were called puisne. By the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1877, a "puisne judge" is deemed a judge of the High Court other than the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice of England, the Master of the Rolls, the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and their successors respectively. See now the Supreme Court Act 1981, section 4

Puisne courts existed as lower courts in the early stages in the judiciary in British North America, in particular Upper Canada and Lower Canada.

See also

  • Puisne Justice - the title of a judge, other than the chief justice, of a superior court of a common law jurisdiction.


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