The Bench is defined as the chair and desk where a judge sits in the courtroom.

Additional Sources

The seat for judges in a courtroom.

The office or position of a judge.

Duhaime Legal Dictionary

A judge in court session or membership of a particular court. For example, Judge Jonathan Solomon sits on the bench of the Ontario Provincial Court. Or "the bench of the BC Supreme Court is comprised of 101 members". Dictionary

n. 1) general term for all judges, as in "the bench," or for the particular judge or panel of judges, as in an order coming from the "bench." 2) the large, usually long and wide desk raised above the level of the rest of the courtroom, at which the judge or panel of judges sit.


Bench in legal contexts means simply the location in a courtroom where a judge sits. The historical roots of that meaning come from the fact that judges formerly sat on long seats or benches (freestanding or against a wall) when presiding over a court. In modern courtrooms, the bench is usually an elevated desk area that allows a judge to view the entire courtroom (see photo at right).

But the word also has a broader meaning in the law - the term "bench" is a metonymy used to describe members of the judiciary collectively, or the judges of a particular court, such as the Queen's Bench or the Common Bench in Great Britain, or the federal bench in the United States. The term is also used when all the judges of a certain court sit together to decide a case, as in the phrase "before the full bench" (also called "en banc"). Additionally, the term is used to differentiate judges ("the bench") from attorneys or barristers ("the bar"). The phrase "bench and bar" denotes all judges and lawyers collectively.