Definition: (French) by the full court. Also spelled in banc and en bank.
Some appellate courts which have a large number of judges and a large caseload often divide into divisions or panels for each case. For example, United States Appeals Courts cases are usually heard by three judge panels. Sometimes, on the request of the panel, or one of the litigants, the case is later reheard by the full court, or, en banc.
Excerpt from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure:
FRAP 35. DETERMINATION OF CAUSES
BY THE COURT IN BANC
(a) When Hearing or Rehearing In Banc Will Be Ordered. A majority of the circuit judges who are in regular active service may order that an appeal or other proceeding be heard or reheard by the court of appeals in banc. Such a hearing or rehearing is not favored and ordinarily will not be ordered except (1) when consideration by the full court is necessary to secure or maintain uniformity of its decisions, or (2) when the proceeding involves a question of exceptional importance.
(b) Suggestion of a Party for Hearing or Rehearing In Banc. A party may suggest the appropriateness of a hearing or rehearing in banc. No response shall be filed unless the court shall so order. The clerk shall transmit any such suggestion to the members of the panel and the judges of the court who are in regular active service but a vote need not be taken to determine whether the cause shall be heard or reheard in banc unless a judge in regular active service or a judge who was a member of the panel that rendered a decision sought to be reheard requests a vote on such a suggestion made by a party.
(c) Time for Suggestion of a Party for Hearing or Rehearing In Banc; Suggestion Does Not Stay Mandate. If a party desires to suggest that an appeal be heard initially in banc, the suggestion must be made by the date on which the appellee's brief is filed. A suggestion for a rehearing in banc must be made within the time prescribed by Rule 40 for filing a petition for rehearing, whether the suggestion is made in such a petition or otherwise. The pendency of such a suggestion whether or not included in a petition for rehearing shall not affect the finality of the judgment of the court of appeals or stay the issuance of the mandate.
(d) Number of Copies. The number of copies that must be filed may be prescribed by local rule and may be altered by order in a particular case.