Senate Bill 179
152nd General Assembly (Present)
Becomes effective upon date of signature of the Governor or upon date specified
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 8, TITLE 10, TITLE 12, AND TITLE 26 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CHANGES TO THE TITLE “MASTER IN CHANCERY”.
This Act replaces references to “Masters” in the Court of Chancery with “Magistrate”. The Court of Chancery, as Delaware’s court of equity, “traces its jurisdiction and powers to the High Court of Chancery in Great Britain at the time of the American Revolution.” DiGiacobbe v. Sestak, 743 A.2d 180, 182 (Del. 1999). At that time in British history, the High Court appointed persons bearing the title “Masters in Chancery” to examine witnesses and prepare reports of their factual findings in causes referred to them. On its formation, the Court of Chancery inherited the power to appoint judicial officers for similar purposes. The General Assembly later adopted laws, and the Court of Chancery adopted rules, expressly memorializing this power. Following the tradition of the High Court, those laws and rules referred to judicial officers appointed to serve at the pleasure of the Chancellor as “Masters in Chancery”. The title of “master” carries negative connotations due to the use of the term as the title of owners of slaves. Although the title “Master in Chancery” has no link to that historical context, the Court of Chancery is sensitive to the title’s negative connotations and so has proposed a new title, “Magistrate in Chancery”. This Act requires a greater than majority vote for passage because § 1 of Article IX of the Delaware Constitution requires the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house of the General Assembly to amend the Delaware General Corporation Law.