The High Court is the Judicial branch of the World Council, the government of First Nation. Members of the High Court are known as Magistrates, one of whom is appointed by the monarch as the Chief Magistrate. Magistrates are elected for a term of five years. The High Court has two primary duties: One is to pass laws, by a majority vote of not less than two thirds of its members. It cannot, however, originate the laws which it votes into effect. Rather, it votes upon propositions which have been submitted either by the monarch or by the Congress. The High Court's magistrates discuss and possibly debate amongst themselves the reasons and possible effects of a proposition, as well as determining whether it adheres to already established laws. (With a unanimous vote, new laws may supercede and thereby repeal existing laws, though this is rarely if ever done.) The second duty of the High Court is to hear cases which have been appealed from the lower court system, or to hear cases which are from the start considered matters of national significance.
The first session of the High Court was held on 9 Win'yet, LY 905, the day after the inauguration of its original members, who had been elected to represent their villages on 8 Su'yet, 904. The number of magistrates is equal to the number of villages (plus merfolk regions, whose magistrates attend sessions via t-mail) within First Nation; the first session of the High Court was comprised of 22 magistrates, and the first Chief Magistrate was Thomas Justicar. He was appointed to the position a second time, in 910, after having been elected to a second term as magistrate in 909. As of 913, the High Court consists of 16 magistrates.
Since the earliest days of The Land, there had rarely been incidents of crime in the world. Whenever one stood accused of a crime, he or she might request to be defended by an impartial third party. Over the years, this practice of prosecution and defense became more formal, though there were never courts in the modern sense. Nor was there a standardized set of laws throughout the world's villages. However, with the rise of organized crime beginning in 899, it became obvious that such a standard set of laws would be required, in large part because of the increased cooperation between different villages' police departments. At that time, a court system was officially established, the authority of which was recognized throughout the Land, by vote of the general public on 8 Su'yet of that year. The courts would try legal cases, but before they could do so to any great extent, they had to also create a universal set of laws, which were mostly reworkings of old local laws of various villages. There were, however, a number of entirely new laws which were passed by the court system over the next five years. On 8 Win'yet, 905, upon the inauguration of the High Court magistrates, the court system passed its Final Law, officially passing the power to enact laws to the High Court.
In some ways the High Court is technically separate from the lower court system, which now exists solely to try legal cases. But the court system is also considered a part of the judicial system, in a limited capacity (that is, "judicial system" and "judicial branch" are not synonymous; the lower courts are subject to the High Court, but not an immediate part of the government). Decisions of the local courts may also be overturned by the High Court, in certain cases. To a great extent, the relation between the lower courts and the High Court is similar to that of police departments and InterVil, though unlike the latter organizations, the entire judicial system is an official branch of the Second Order exclusively; other governments such as the United Villages of the Chaos or sovereign villages such as Sorret have their own, separate court systems.