en banc



In law, an en banc session (; French for "in bench"; also known as ''in banc'', ''in banco'' or ''in bank'') is a session in which a case is heard before all the
judge A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel of judges. A judge hears all the witnesses and any other evidence presented by the barristers or solicitors of the case, assesses the credibility ...
s of a
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accord ...
(before the entire bench) rather than by one judge or a smaller panel of judges. ''En banc'' review is used for unusually complex or important cases or when the court feels there is a particularly significant issue at stake.

United States

Federal appeals courts in the United States sometimes grant rehearing to reconsider the decision of a panel of the court (consisting of only three judges) in which the case concerns a matter of exceptional public importance or the panel's decision appears to conflict with a prior decision of the court. In rarer instances, an appellate court will order hearing ''en banc'' as an initial matter instead of the panel hearing it first. Cases in United States courts of appeals are heard by three-judge panels, randomly chosen from the sitting appeals court judges of that circuit. If a party loses before a circuit panel they may appeal for a rehearing ''en banc''. A majority of the active circuit judges must agree to hear or rehear a case ''en banc''. The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure state that ''en banc'' proceedings are disfavored but may be ordered to maintain uniformity of decisions within the circuit or if the issue is exceptionally important (Fed. R. App. P. 35(a)). Each federal circuit has their own particular rules regarding ''en banc'' proceedings. The circuit rules for the Seventh Circuit provide a process where, under certain circumstances, a panel can solicit the consent of the other circuit judges to overrule a prior decision and thus avoid the need for an ''en banc'' proceeding. Federal law provides that for courts with more than 15 judges, an ''en banc'' hearing may consist of "such number of members of its ''en banc'' courts as may be prescribed by rule of the court of appeals." The Ninth Circuit, with 29 judges, uses this procedure, and its ''en banc'' court consists of 11 judges. Theoretically, the Ninth Circuit can render ''en banc'' decisions with all 29 judges participating; such a hearing would overrule a prior 11-judge ''en banc'' hearing on the same case. Though no rule exists barring a party from requesting such a hearing, none has ever been granted. The Fifth Circuit, with 17 judges, adopted a similar procedure in 1986. ''State of La. ex rel. Guste v. M/V TESTBANK'', 752 F.2d 1019 (5th Cir. 1985) (en banc). The Sixth Circuit has 16 judges, but , has not adopted such a policy yet. The FISA Court sat en banc for the first time in 2017 in a case concerning bulk data collection.

United Kingdom

Neither the term "''en banc''" nor the related term "
full court A full court (less formally, full bench) is a court of law sitting with a greater than normal number of judges. For a court which is usually presided over by one judge, a full court has three or more judges; for a court which, like many appella ...
" are in common use in the UK. The UK Supreme Court has criteria in place to determine the size of the panel that sits on any one case, and particularly important cases can be heard by a panel comprising all the justices, but this is not referred to as sitting ''en banc'' in the UK. The Supreme Court has twelve justices, and cases are ordinarily decided by panels of five. The largest possible panel is 11 of the 12 justices, to prevent a deadlock. Eleven judges may sit on a panel: * in cases where the court is being asked to depart, or may decide to depart from a previous decision; * in cases of high constitutional importance or great public importance; * in cases where a conflict between decisions in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by appointment, heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminst ...
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal for the Crown Dependencies, the British Overseas Territories, some Commonwealth countries and a few institutions in the United Kingdom. Established on 14 August ...
and/or the Supreme Court has to be reconciled; or * in cases raising an important point in relation to the
European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR; formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by t ...
. , only two cases have been heard by the maximum panel of 11 justices, both arising out of political events relating to Brexit: ''
R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union ''R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union'' is a United Kingdom constitutional law case decided by the United Kingdom Supreme Court on 24 January 2017, which ruled that the British Government (the executive) might not ini ...
'' ("Miller I"), which was heard by all 11 serving justices (there was one judicial vacancy at the time) and decided by an 8-3 majority, and ''
R (Miller) v The Prime Minister and Cherry v Advocate General for Scotland ''R (Miller) v The Prime Minister'' and ''Cherry v Advocate General for Scotland'' ( 019UKSC 41), also known as ''Miller II'' and ''Miller/Cherry'', were joint landmark constitutional law cases on the limits of the power of royal preroga ...
'' ("Miller II"), which was heard by 11 of the 12 serving justices (Lord Briggs did not sit) and decided unanimously.


The Supreme Court of Japan, which has a total of fifteen justices, ordinarily hears cases in panels of five judges, but is required to hear cases en banc (by the "Grand Bench", 大法廷 ''daihōtei'') when ruling on most constitutional issues, when overturning a previous decision of the Supreme Court, when the five-judge panel is unable to reach a decision, and in other limited cases.


Appeals to the
High Court of Australia The High Court of Australia is Australia's apex court. It exercises original and appellate jurisdiction on matters specified within Australia's Constitution. The High Court was established following passage of the '' Judiciary Act 1903''. I ...
(the federal supreme court of Australia) are sometimes heard by the full bench of all seven justices. Cases that are heard by the full bench include cases of constitutional significance, or where the court is being asked to overrule a previous decision, or cases that involve principles of major public importance. The state supreme courts and the
Federal Court of Australia The Federal Court of Australia is an Australian superior court of record which has jurisdiction to deal with most civil disputes governed by federal law (with the exception of family law matters), along with some summary (less serious) and indic ...
often hear appeals by a "
full court A full court (less formally, full bench) is a court of law sitting with a greater than normal number of judges. For a court which is usually presided over by one judge, a full court has three or more judges; for a court which, like many appella ...
" of judges, but this does not normally include all the judges on the court. For example, in
New South Wales ) , nickname = , image_map = New South Wales in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of New South Wales in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Australia , established_title = Before federation , es ...
, particularly important appeal cases are heard by five judges, chosen from a pool of more than a dozen appeal judges. Some court buildings in Australia include a courtroom specifically called the "banco court", which is a large courtroom where the judges of the court can sit ''en banc'' - with ''in banco'', the Medieval Latin term, being preferred in Australia over the Norman French equivalent ''en banc''. They are used for full bench hearings, as well as ceremonies.


In France, the Court of Cassation (France's highest judicial court) sometimes hears cases that represent very significant legal issues, as well as cases in which lower appeals courts have failed to apply its rulings as ordered, in an ''en banc'' formation known as the ''Assemblée plénière'' (Plenary Session). This consists of a nineteen-member panel composed of the Chief Justice of the Court of Cassation and three members from each of the Court's six divisions.

See also

Full court A full court (less formally, full bench) is a court of law sitting with a greater than normal number of judges. For a court which is usually presided over by one judge, a full court has three or more judges; for a court which, like many appella ...


External links

* * {{Wiktionary-inline, banco Civil procedure