Lord Chancellor

highest-ranking regularly-appointed Great Officer of State of the United Kingdom

The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. Before the Union there were separate Lord Chancellors[1] of England and Scotland.

Lord Chancellor
Alex Chalk

since 21 April 2023
StyleThe Right Honourable
AppointerThe Sovereign
on advice of the Prime Minister
Inaugural holderThe Lord Cowper
FormationMay 1707
of Kingdom of Great Britain

Until Tony Blair became Prime Minister the Lord Chancellor was required to be a member of the House of Lords,was its presiding officer, and was Britain's highest-ranking judge. Blair tried to abolish the position and wound up removing some of its responsibilities and dividing others, and now the holder is usually in the House of Commons. The Lord Chancellor remains responsible for the Great Seal and for the efficient functioning and independence of the courts.[2] The current Lord Chancellor is Alex Chalk,who replaced Dominic Raab[3] in 2023.

Formerly, there were separate Chancellors of England, Scotland and Ireland. When the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland united to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain under the Acts of Union 1707 the offices of the Chancellor of England and the Lord Chancellor of Scotland were combined to form a single office of Lord Chancellor of Great Britain for the new state.[4][5]


  1. The title can be pluralized 'Lord Chancellors' or 'Lords Chancellor'. The former is more common and is used for consistency throughout the article. See Gardner, B., (2001), A dictionary of modern legal usage, Oxford University Press, p. 538.
  2. Formerly he was also the presiding officer of the House of Lords, and the head of the judiciary in England and Wales, but the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 transferred these roles to the Lord Speaker and the Lord Chief Justice respectively.
  3. "Prisons Minister Robert Buckland QC to be new Lord Chancellor – The Lawyer | Legal insight, benchmarking data and jobs". 24 July 2019. Retrieved 2019-08-01.
  4. Treasure, Geoffrey (2009) [2004]. "Cowper, William, first Earl Cowper (1665–1723), politician and lord chancellor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6511. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 2021-06-17. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. Murdoch, Alexander (2007). "England, Scotland, and the Acts of Union (1707)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/96282. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 2021-06-17. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)