Puisne (//; from Old French puisné, modern puîné, "later born, younger" (and thence, "inferior") from late Latin post-, "after", and natus, "born") is a legal term of art obsolete in many jurisdictions and, when current, used mainly in British English meaning "inferior in rank". The word became in the 18th and 19th century legal world was more often pronounced // to distance it from its anglicized form puny, an adjective meaning "weak or undersized".
The judges and barons of the national common law courts at Westminster, other than those having a distinct title, were called puisne. This was reinforced by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1877 following which a "puisne judge" is officially any of those of the High Court other than the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice of England, the Master of the Rolls (and the abolished positions of Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer).
Puisne courts existed as lower courts in the early stages in the judiciary in British North America, in particular Upper Canada and Lower Canada. The justices of the Supreme Court of Canada other than the Chief Justice are still referred to as puisne justices.
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- Puisne judge – the title of a judge, other than the chief justice, of a superior court of a common law jurisdiction