The Privy Council Appeals Act 1832 abolished the High Court of Delegates and transferred its powers to hear appeals in ecclesiastical and admiralty cases to the King in Council. The Council had previously served only as a court of final resort from the Delegates under the infrequently invoked procedure of petitioning for commissions of review. Appeals from Prize Courts also fell within the jurisdiction of the Council and were heard by a Commission of Appeals in Prize, also known as the High Court of Appeals for Prizes, which was virtually a committee of the Privy Council.
In 1833 all these powers were vested by the Judicial Committee Act in a newly constituted Judicial Committee of the Privy Council comprising the following members: the Lord President, the Lord Chancellor and such as had held the offices of Lord Keeper or First Commissioner of the Great Seal, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer, Master of the Rolls, Vice-Chancellor, Judge of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Judge of the High Court of Admiralty and Chief Judge in Bankruptcy. The Crown was empowered to appoint two other members and to direct the attendance of the judges.
Preliminary proceedings on ecclesiastical and admiralty cases were heard before specially commissioned deputies, sitting as the Court of Surrogates.
The jurisdiction of the committee in ecclesiastical appeals was increased by various Clergy Discipline Acts during the nineteenth century, but was considerably reduced by the Matrimonial Causes and Court of Probate Acts of 1857, which transferred divorce and probate jurisdiction from the church courts to the newly constituted Probate and Divorce Courts and appeals in such causes to the House of Lords and since October 2009 to the UK Supreme Court.
The main role of the Judicial Committee was to hear appeals from the respective high courts of British dominion / colonial lands and protectorates. However, as mentioned above, it also had temporary responsibilities for appeals from the Admiralty Instance Court and from Ecclesaistical Courts. Most of the latter functions were terminated by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873. From 1956 the Committee also had responsibility for appeals from particular professional disciplinary bodies: e.g. the General Medical, Optical and Dental Councils (respectively); Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine.
Duties in connection with the work of the Committee are performed by a Registrar appointed by royal sign manual under the Judicial Committee Act of 1833; the Act gave him powers to examine and report on matters referred to him by the Committee similar to those exercised in respect of Chancery by the Masters in Chancery. Until 1904, when the two offices were combined, there was also a special Registrar for ecclesiastical and admiralty causes, appointed under the Judicial Committee Act of 1843.