Courts of England and Wales
Overview
 
Her Majesty's Courts of Justice of England and Wales are the civil
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

 and criminal
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

 court
Court
A court is a form of tribunal, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law...

s responsible for the administration of justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 in England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

; they apply the law of England and Wales and are established under Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

.

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 does not have a single unified legal system—England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 have one system, Scotland
Courts of Scotland
The civil, criminal and heraldic Courts of Scotland are responsible for the administration of justice. They are constituted and governed by Scots law....

 another, and Northern Ireland
Courts of Northern Ireland
The courts of Northern Ireland are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in Northern Ireland: they are constituted and governed by Northern Ireland law....

 a third. There are exceptions to this rule; for example in immigration law
Immigration law
Immigration law refers to national government policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their country.Immigraton law, regarding foreign citizens, is related to nationality law, which governs the legal status of people, in matters such as citizenship...

, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal
Asylum and Immigration Tribunal
The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal was a tribunal constituted in the United Kingdom with jurisdiction to hear appeals from many immigration and asylum decisions...

's jurisdiction covers the whole of the United Kingdom, while in employment law there is a single system of Employment Tribunal
Employment tribunal
Employment Tribunals are tribunal non-departmental public bodies in England and Wales and Scotland which have statutory jurisdiction to hear many kinds of disputes between employers and employees. The most common disputes are concerned with unfair dismissal, redundancy payments and employment...

s for England, Wales, and Scotland (but not Northern Ireland).

The Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Crown Court, the Magistrates' Courts, and the County Courts are administered by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service
Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service
Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service is an agency of the Ministry of Justice. It was created on 1 April 2011 by the merger of Her Majesty's Courts Service and the Tribunals Service....

, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Justice is a ministerial department of the UK Government headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, who is responsible for improvements to the justice system so that it better serves the public...

.

The Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court in all matters under English law, Northern Ireland law and Scottish civil law. It is the court of last resort and highest appellate court in the United Kingdom; however the High Court of Justiciary remains the supreme court for criminal...

 is the highest appeal court in almost all cases in England and Wales.
Encyclopedia
Her Majesty's Courts of Justice of England and Wales are the civil
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

 and criminal
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

 court
Court
A court is a form of tribunal, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law...

s responsible for the administration of justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 in England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

; they apply the law of England and Wales and are established under Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

.

The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 does not have a single unified legal system—England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 have one system, Scotland
Courts of Scotland
The civil, criminal and heraldic Courts of Scotland are responsible for the administration of justice. They are constituted and governed by Scots law....

 another, and Northern Ireland
Courts of Northern Ireland
The courts of Northern Ireland are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in Northern Ireland: they are constituted and governed by Northern Ireland law....

 a third. There are exceptions to this rule; for example in immigration law
Immigration law
Immigration law refers to national government policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their country.Immigraton law, regarding foreign citizens, is related to nationality law, which governs the legal status of people, in matters such as citizenship...

, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal
Asylum and Immigration Tribunal
The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal was a tribunal constituted in the United Kingdom with jurisdiction to hear appeals from many immigration and asylum decisions...

's jurisdiction covers the whole of the United Kingdom, while in employment law there is a single system of Employment Tribunal
Employment tribunal
Employment Tribunals are tribunal non-departmental public bodies in England and Wales and Scotland which have statutory jurisdiction to hear many kinds of disputes between employers and employees. The most common disputes are concerned with unfair dismissal, redundancy payments and employment...

s for England, Wales, and Scotland (but not Northern Ireland).

The Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Crown Court, the Magistrates' Courts, and the County Courts are administered by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service
Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service
Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service is an agency of the Ministry of Justice. It was created on 1 April 2011 by the merger of Her Majesty's Courts Service and the Tribunals Service....

, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Justice is a ministerial department of the UK Government headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, who is responsible for improvements to the justice system so that it better serves the public...

.

Supreme Court of the United Kingdom


The Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court in all matters under English law, Northern Ireland law and Scottish civil law. It is the court of last resort and highest appellate court in the United Kingdom; however the High Court of Justiciary remains the supreme court for criminal...

 is the highest appeal court in almost all cases in England and Wales. Prior to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provided for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the existing role of the Law Lords as well as some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and removed the functions of Speaker of...

 this role was held by the House of Lords
Judicial functions of the House of Lords
The House of Lords, in addition to having a legislative function, historically also had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for impeachment cases, and as a court of last resort within the United Kingdom. In the latter case the House's...

. The Supreme Court is also the highest court of appeal for devolution
Devolution
Devolution is the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level. Devolution can be mainly financial, e.g. giving areas a budget which was formerly administered by central government...

 matters, a role previously held by the Privy Council
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is one of the highest courts in the United Kingdom. Established by the Judicial Committee Act 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King in Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is one of the highest courts in the United...

.

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

The Privy Council is the highest court of appeal for a small number of Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 countries, colonies and the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. There are a number of smaller statutory jurisdictions, such as appeals from ecclesiastical and professional bodies. The judges who sit on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are also the members of the Supreme Court.

The Senior Courts of England and Wales

The Senior Courts of England and Wales were originally created by the Judicature Acts as the "Supreme Court of Judicature". It was renamed the "Supreme Court of England and Wales" in 1981, and again to the "Senior Courts of England and Wales" by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provided for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the existing role of the Law Lords as well as some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and removed the functions of Speaker of...

. It consists of the following courts:
  • Court of Appeal
    Court of Appeal of England and Wales
    The Court of Appeal of England and Wales is the second most senior court in the English legal system, with only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom above it...

  • High Court of Justice
    High Court of Justice
    The High Court of Justice is, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...

  • Crown Court
    Crown Court
    The Crown Court of England and Wales is, together with the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal, one of the constituent parts of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...


Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal deals only with appeals from other courts or tribunals.
The Court of Appeal consists of two divisions: the Civil Division hears appeals from the High Court and County Court and certain superior tribunals, while the Criminal Division may only hear appeals from the Crown Court connected with a trial on indictment (i.e., for a serious offence).
Its decisions are binding on all courts, including itself, apart from the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court in all matters under English law, Northern Ireland law and Scottish civil law. It is the court of last resort and highest appellate court in the United Kingdom; however the High Court of Justiciary remains the supreme court for criminal...

.

High Court

The High Court of Justice functions, both as a civil court of first instance
Trial court
A trial court or court of first instance is a court in which trials take place. Such courts are said to have original jurisdiction.- In the United States :...

 and a criminal and civil appellate court
Appellate court
An appellate court, commonly called an appeals court or court of appeals or appeal court , is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal...

 for cases from the subordinate courts. It consists of three divisions: the Queen's Bench, the Chancery and the Family divisions. The divisions of the High Court are not separate courts, but have somewhat separate procedures and practices adapted to their purposes. Although particular kinds of cases will be assigned to each division depending on their subject matter, each division may exercise the jurisdiction of the High Court. However, beginning proceedings in the wrong division may result in a costs penalty.

Crown Court

The Crown Court is a criminal court of both original and appellate jurisdiction which in addition handles a limited amount of civil business both at first instance and on appeal. It was established by the Courts Act 1971
Courts Act 1971
The Courts Act 1971 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom the purpose of which was to reform and modernise the courts system of England and Wales....

. It replaced the Assizes whereby High Court judges would periodically travel around the country hearing cases, and Quarter Sessions
Quarter Sessions
The Courts of Quarter Sessions or Quarter Sessions were local courts traditionally held at four set times each year in the United Kingdom and other countries in the former British Empire...

 which were periodic county courts. The Old Bailey is the unofficial name of London's most famous Criminal Court, which is now part of the Crown Court. Its official name is the "Central Criminal Court". The Crown Court also hears appeals from Magistrates' Court
Magistrates' Court
A magistrates' court or court of petty sessions, formerly known as a police court, is the lowest level of court in England and Wales and many other common law jurisdictions...

s.

The Crown Court is the only court in England and Wales that has the jurisdiction to try cases on indictment and when exercising such a role it is a superior court in that its judgments cannot be reviewed by the Administrative Court of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court.

The Crown Court is an inferior court in respect of the other work it undertakes, viz. inter alia, appeals from the Magistrates’ courts and other tribunals.

Subordinate courts

The most common subordinate courts in England and Wales are the
  • Magistrates' Court
    Magistrates' Court
    A magistrates' court or court of petty sessions, formerly known as a police court, is the lowest level of court in England and Wales and many other common law jurisdictions...

    s
  • Family Proceedings Court
    Family Proceedings Court
    In England and Wales, the Family Proceedings Court is the name given to the Magistrates' Court when members of the family panel sit to hear a family case. It is a court of first instance in England and Wales that deals with family matters...

    s
  • Youth courts
  • County Court
    County Court
    A county court is a court based in or with a jurisdiction covering one or more counties, which are administrative divisions within a country, not to be confused with the medieval system of county courts held by the High Sheriff of each county.-England and Wales:County Court matters can be lodged...

    s

Magistrates', Family Proceedings and Youth Courts

Magistrates' Courts are presided over by a bench of lay magistrates (aka justices of the peace), or a legally-trained district judge (formerly known as a stipendiary magistrate), sitting in each local justice area. There are no juries
Jury
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

. They hear minor criminal cases, as well as certain licensing applications. Youth courts are run on similar lines to Adult magistrates' courts but deal with offenders aged between the ages of 10 and 17 inclusive. Youth courts are presided over by a specially trained subset of experienced adult magistrates or a district judge. Youth magistrates have a wider catalogue of disposals available to them for dealing with young offenders and often hear more serious cases against youths (which for adults would normally be dealt with by the Crown Court). In addition some Magistrates' Courts are also a Family Proceedings Court
Family Proceedings Court
In England and Wales, the Family Proceedings Court is the name given to the Magistrates' Court when members of the family panel sit to hear a family case. It is a court of first instance in England and Wales that deals with family matters...

 and hear Family law cases including care cases and they have the power to make adoption orders. Family Proceedings Courts are not open to the public. The Family Proceedings Court Rules 1991 apply to cases in the Family Proceedings Court
Family Proceedings Court
In England and Wales, the Family Proceedings Court is the name given to the Magistrates' Court when members of the family panel sit to hear a family case. It is a court of first instance in England and Wales that deals with family matters...

. Youth courts are not open to the public for observation, only the parties involved in a case being admitted.

County Courts

County Courts are statutory courts with a purely civil jurisdiction. They are presided over by either a District or Circuit Judge and, except in a small minority of cases such as civil actions against the Police, the judge sits alone as trier of fact and law without assistance from a jury. County courts have divorce jurisdiction and undertake private family cases, care proceedings and adoptions.

County Courts are local courts in the sense that each one has an area over which certain kinds of jurisdiction—such as actions concerning land or cases concerning children who reside in the area—are exercised. For example, proceedings for possession of land must be started in the county court in whose district the property lies. However, in general any county court in England and Wales may hear any action and claims are frequently transferred from court to court.
it sits in 92 different cities of UK.

Tribunals

The Court Service administers the tribunals that fall under the direct responsibility of the Lord Chancellor. Tribunals can be considered the lowest rung of the court hierarchy in England and Wales.

Special courts and tribunals

In addition, there are many other specialist courts. These are often described as "Tribunals" rather than courts, but the difference in name is not of any great consequence. For example an Employment Tribunal
Employment tribunal
Employment Tribunals are tribunal non-departmental public bodies in England and Wales and Scotland which have statutory jurisdiction to hear many kinds of disputes between employers and employees. The most common disputes are concerned with unfair dismissal, redundancy payments and employment...

 is an inferior court of record for the purposes of the law of contempt of court
Contempt of court
Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority...

. In many cases there is a statutory right of appeal from a tribunal to a particular court or specially constituted appellate tribunal. In the absence of a specific appeals court, the only remedy from a decision of a Tribunal may be a judicial review to the High Court, which will often be more limited in scope than an appeal.

Examples of specialist courts are:
  • Employment Tribunal
    Employment tribunal
    Employment Tribunals are tribunal non-departmental public bodies in England and Wales and Scotland which have statutory jurisdiction to hear many kinds of disputes between employers and employees. The most common disputes are concerned with unfair dismissal, redundancy payments and employment...

    s (formerly Industrial Tribunals) with appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal
    Employment Appeal Tribunal
    The Employment Appeal Tribunal is a tribunal non-departmental public body in England and Wales and Scotland, and is a superior court of record. Its primary role is to hear appeals from Employment Tribunals in England, Scotland and Wales...

  • the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which is a superior court of record, and therefore not subject to judicial review, appeals go to the Court of Appeal
    Court of Appeal of England and Wales
    The Court of Appeal of England and Wales is the second most senior court in the English legal system, with only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom above it...

  • Leasehold Valuation Tribunals
    Leasehold valuation tribunal
    A Leasehold Valuation Tribunal is a statutory tribunal in England which determine various types of landlord and tenant dispute involving residential property in the private sector...

    , with appeal to the Lands Tribunal
  • the Lands Tribunal
    Lands Tribunal
    The Lands Tribunal is a tribunal in the United Kingdom created by the Lands Tribunal Act 1949 that has jurisdiction in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, although in the Northern Ireland context the term Lands Tribunal normally refers to a different body the Lands Tribunal for Northern Ireland...

     (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • the First-tier Tribunal
    First-tier Tribunal
    The First-tier Tribunal is part of the administrative justice system of the United Kingdom. It was created in 2008 as part of a programme, set out in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, to rationalise the tribunal system, and has since taken on the functions of twenty previously...

     and the Upper Tribunal
    Upper Tribunal
    The Upper Tribunal is part of the administrative justice system of the United Kingdom. It was created in 2008 as part of a programme, set out in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, to rationalise the tribunal system, and to provide a common means of handling appeals against the...

     established under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007
    Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007
    The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provides for several diverse matters relating to the law, some of them being significant changes to the structure of the courts and fundamental legal procedures...


Coroners' courts

The post of coroner
Coroner
A coroner is a government official who* Investigates human deaths* Determines cause of death* Issues death certificates* Maintains death records* Responds to deaths in mass disasters* Identifies unknown dead* Other functions depending on local laws...

 is ancient, dating from the 11th century, and coroners still sit today to determine the cause of death in situations where people have died in potentially suspicious circumstances, abroad, or in the care of central authority.
They also have jurisdiction over treasure trove
Treasure trove
A treasure trove may broadly be defined as an amount of money or coin, gold, silver, plate, or bullion found hidden underground or in places such as cellars or attics, where the treasure seems old enough for it to be presumed that the true owner is dead and the heirs undiscoverable...

.

Ecclesiastical courts

The Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 is an established church (i.e. it is the official state church) and formerly had exclusive or non-exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over marriage and divorce cases, testamentary matters, defamation, and several other areas. Since the 19th century, the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical court
Ecclesiastical court
An ecclesiastical court is any of certain courts having jurisdiction mainly in spiritual or religious matters. In the Middle Ages in many areas of Europe these courts had much wider powers than before the development of nation states...

s has narrowed principally to matters of church property and errant clergy. Each Diocese has a 'Chancellor' (either a barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 or solicitor
Solicitor
Solicitors are lawyers who traditionally deal with any legal matter including conducting proceedings in courts. In the United Kingdom, a few Australian states and the Republic of Ireland, the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers , and a lawyer will usually only hold one title...

) who acts as a judge in the consistory court
Consistory court
The consistory court is a type of ecclesiastical court, especially within the Church of England. They were established by a charter of King William I of England, and still exist today, although since about the middle of the 19th century consistory courts have lost much of their subject-matter...

 of the diocese. The Bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 no longer has the right to preside personally, as he formerly did. Appeals lie to the Arches Court
Arches Court
The Arches Court, presided over by the Dean of Arches, is an ecclesiastical court of the Church of England covering the Province of Canterbury. Its equivalent in the Province of York is the Chancery Court.-Provincial Court:...

 (in Canterbury) and the Chancery Court
Chancery Court
The Chancery Court of York is an ecclesiastical court for the Province of York of the Church of England.The presiding officer, the Official Principal and Auditor, has been the same person as the Dean of the Arches since the nineteenth century . The Court comprises the Auditor, two clergy and two...

 (in York), and from them to the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved
Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved
The Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved is an appellate court within the hierarchy of ecclesiastical courts of the Church of England. Hearing cases involving church doctrine, ceremony, or ritual, the Court has jurisdiction over both the Province of Canterbury and the Province of York...

 (CECR). From the CECR appeals lie to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is one of the highest courts in the United Kingdom. Established by the Judicial Committee Act 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King in Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is one of the highest courts in the United...

.

Other courts

  • Military Courts of the United Kingdom
    Military Courts of the United Kingdom
    The Military Courts of the United Kingdom are now governed by the Armed Forces Act 2006. The system set up under the Act applies to all three armed services, the Royal Navy , the Army and the Royal Air Force , and replaces the three parallel systems that were previously in existence.The military...

     (including the Summary Appeal Court, Service Civilian Court, Court Martial and Court Martial Appeal Court)
  • Patents County Court
    Patents County Court
    In the legal system of Courts of England and Wales, the Patents County Court in London is an alternative venue to the Patents Court of the High Court for bringing legal cases involving certain matters concerning patents, registered designs and, more recently, trade marks, including Community trade...

     (deals with simpler intellectual property
    Intellectual property
    Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

     cases than the High Court Patents Court)
  • Restrictive Practices Court
    Restrictive Practices Court
    The Restrictive Practices Court is a senior court of record in the United Kingdom. It was created in 1956 to foster competition through enforcement of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1956. Though the Court was overhauled in 1976, by the end of the century, the legislation was perceived as...

     (deals with some competition
    Competition (economics)
    Competition in economics is a term that encompasses the notion of individuals and firms striving for a greater share of a market to sell or buy goods and services...

     matters)
  • Election court
    Election court
    An Election Court is, in United Kingdom election law, a special court convened to hear a petition against the result of a local government or Parliamentary election. The court is created to hear the individual case, and ceases to exist when it has made its decision.- Statutory basis :Election...

     (ad-hoc courts hearing petitions against election results)
  • Court of Chivalry
    Court of Chivalry
    Her Majesty's High Court of Chivalry of England and Wales is a civil court in England. It has had jurisdiction in cases of the misuse of heraldic arms since the fourteenth century....

     (ancient and rarely-convened court dealing with heraldry
    Heraldry
    Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

    )
  • Courts leet
    Court leet
    The court leet was a historical court baron of England and Wales and Ireland that exercised the "view of frankpledge" and its attendant police jurisdiction, which was normally restricted to the hundred courts.-History:...

     (manorial courts - now mostly ceremonial)

Criminal cases

There are two kinds of criminal trial: 'summary' and 'on indictment'. For an adult, summary trials take place in a magistrates' court, while trials on indictment take place in the Crown Court. Despite the possibility of two venues for trial, almost all criminal cases, however serious, commence in the Magistrates' Court
Magistrates' Court
A magistrates' court or court of petty sessions, formerly known as a police court, is the lowest level of court in England and Wales and many other common law jurisdictions...

s. It is possible to start a trial for an indictable offence
Indictable offence
In many common law jurisdictions , an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury...

 by a voluntary bill of indictment, and go directly to the Crown Court, but that would be unusual.

A criminal case that starts in the Magistrates' Court may begin either by the defendant being charged and then being brought forcibly before Magistrates, or by summons to the defendant to appear on a certain day before the Magistrates. A summons is usually confined to very minor offences. The hearing (of the charge or summons) before the Magistrates is known as a "first appearance".

Offences are of three categories: indictable only, summary and either way. Indictable only offences such as murder and rape must be tried on indictment in the Crown Court. On first appearance, the Magistrates must immediately refer the defendant to the Crown Court for trial, their only role being to decide whether to remand the defendant on bail or in custody.

Summary offences, such as most motoring offences, are much less serious and most must be tried in the Magistrates' Court, although a few may be sent for trial to the Crown Court along with other offences that may be tried there (for example assault). The vast majority of offences are also concluded in the Magistrates' Court (over 90% of cases).

Either way offences are intermediate offences such as theft and, with the exception of low value criminal damage, may be tried either summarily (by magistrates) or by Judge and Jury in the Crown Court. If the magistrates consider that an either way offence is too serious for them to deal with, they may "decline jurisdiction" which means that the defendant will have to appear in the Crown Court. Conversely even if the magistrates accept jurisdiction, an adult defendant has a right to compel a jury trial. Defendants under 18 years of age do not have this right and will be tried in the Youth Court
Youth justice in England and Wales
Youth justice system in England and Wales comprises the organs and processes that are used to prosecute, convict and punish persons under 18 years of age who commit criminal offences...

 (similar to a Magistrates' Court) unless the case is homicide or else is particularly serious.

A Magistrates' Court is made up in two ways. Either a group (known as a 'bench') of 'lay magistrates', who do not have to be, and are not normally, lawyers, will hear the case. A lay bench must consist of at least three magistrates. Alternatively a case may be heard by a district judge (formerly known as a stipendiary magistrate), who will be a qualified lawyer and will sit singly, but has the same powers as a lay bench. District judges usually sit in the more busy courts in cities or hear complex cases (e.g. extradition). Magistrates have limited sentencing powers.

In the Crown Court
Crown Court
The Crown Court of England and Wales is, together with the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal, one of the constituent parts of the Senior Courts of England and Wales...

, the case is tried before a Recorder (part time judge), Circuit Judge or a High Court judge, and a jury. The seniority of the judge depends on the seriousness and complexity of the case. The jury is involved only if the defendant enters a plea of "not guilty".

Appeals

From the Magistrates' Court, an appeal can be taken to the Crown Court on matters of fact and law or, on matters of law alone, to the Administrative Court of Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, which is called an appeal "by way of case stated
Case Stated
Case stated is an appeal mechanism, a legal function, available in England and Wales to review a magistrates' court decision on a point of law. It is a statement of facts prepared by one court for the opinion of another on a point of law....

". The Magistrates' Court is also an inferior court and is therefore subject to judicial review
Judicial review
Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

.

The Crown Court is more complicated. When it is hearing a trial on indictment (a jury trial) it is treated as a superior court, which means that its decisions may not be judicially reviewed and appeal lies only to the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal
Court of Appeal of England and Wales
The Court of Appeal of England and Wales is the second most senior court in the English legal system, with only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom above it...

.

In other circumstances (for example when acting as an appeal court from a Magistrates' Court) the Crown Court is an inferior court, which means that it is subject to judicial review. When acting as an inferior court, appeals by way of case stated on matters of law may be made to the Administrative Court.

Appeals from the High Court, in criminal matters, lie only to the Supreme Court. Appeals from the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) may also only be taken to the Supreme Court.

Appeals to the Supreme Court are unusual in that the court from which appeal is being made (either the High Court or the Court of Appeal) must certify that there is a point of law of general public importance. This additional control mechanism is not present with civil appeals and means that far fewer criminal appeals are heard by the Supreme Court.

Civil cases

Under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998
Civil Procedure Rules 1998
The Civil Procedure Rules are the rules of civil procedure used by the Court of Appeal, High Court of Justice, and County Courts in civil cases in England and Wales...

, civil
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

 claims under £5,000 are dealt with in the County Court
County Court
A county court is a court based in or with a jurisdiction covering one or more counties, which are administrative divisions within a country, not to be confused with the medieval system of county courts held by the High Sheriff of each county.-England and Wales:County Court matters can be lodged...

 under the 'Small Claims Track'. This is generally known to the lay public as the 'Small Claims Court' but does not exist as a separate court. Claims between £5,000 and £25,000 that are capable of being tried within one day are allocated to the 'Fast Track' and claims over £25,000 to the 'Multi Track'. These 'tracks' are labels for the use of the court system – the actual cases will be heard in the County Court or the High Court depending on their value.

For Personal Injury, Defamation cases and some Landlord and Tenant disputes the thresholds for each track have different values.

Relationship with the European Court of Justice

The European Court of Justice
European Court of Justice
The Court can sit in plenary session, as a Grand Chamber of 13 judges, or in chambers of three or five judges. Plenary sitting are now very rare, and the court mostly sits in chambers of three or five judges...

 acts only as a supreme court for the interpretation of European Union law. Consequently, there is no right to appeal at any stage in UK court proceedings to the ECJ. However, any court in the UK may refer a particular point of law relating to European Union law to the ECJ for determination. However, once the ECJ has given its interpretation, the case is referred back to the court that referred it.

The decision to refer a question to the ECJ can be made by the court of its own initiative, or at the request of any of the parties before it. Where a question of European law is in doubt and there is no appeal from the decision of a court, it is required (except under the doctrine of acte clair) to refer the question to the ECJ; otherwise any referral is entirely at the discretion of the court.

Relationship with the European Court of Human Rights

It is not possible to appeal the decision of any court in England and Wales to the European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

 (ECtHR). Although it is frequent to hear media references to an "appeal" being taken "to Europe", what actually takes place is rather different.

The ECtHR is an international court that hears complaints concerning breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. An unsatisfied litigant in England and Wales might complain to the ECtHR that English law has violated his rights. A decision in the ECtHR will not change English law, and it is up to the Government of the United Kingdom to decide what action (if any) to take after an adverse finding.

Courts in England and Wales are not bound to follow a decision of the ECtHR, although they should "take into account" ECtHR jurisprudence when applying the Convention. The Convention has always had an influence on decisions of courts in England and Wales, but now the Convention has two further effects:
  1. a court, being a public body, must act in accordance with the Convention Rights found in the Human Rights Act 1998
    Human Rights Act 1998
    The Human Rights Act 1998 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which received Royal Assent on 9 November 1998, and mostly came into force on 2 October 2000. Its aim is to "give further effect" in UK law to the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights...

    , which includes a requirement to construe statutes in accordance with the Convention; and
  2. direct claims may be made under the Human Rights Act 1998 against a public body for breach of Convention rights.

History

For nearly 300 years, from the time of the Norman Conquest until 1362, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 was the language of the courts, rather than English. Until the twentieth century, many legal terms were still expressed in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...


The Supreme Court of judicature was formed in 1873 from the merging of various courts then existing, such as the
  • Court of Queen's Bench
    Court of King's Bench (England)
    The Court of King's Bench , formally known as The Court of the King Before the King Himself, was an English court of common law in the English legal system...

  • High Court of Chancery
    Court of Chancery
    The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness of the common law. The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the administration of the estates of...

  • Court of Exchequer
    Exchequer of pleas
    The Exchequer of Pleas or Court of Exchequer was a court that followed equity, a set of legal principles based on natural law, and common law, in England and Wales. Originally part of the curia regis, or King's Council, the Exchequer of Pleas split from the curia during the 1190s, to sit as an...

  • High Court of Admiralty
    Admiralty court
    Admiralty courts, also known as maritime courts, are courts exercising jurisdiction over all maritime contracts, torts, injuries and offences.- Admiralty Courts in England and Wales :...

  • Court of Common Pleas
    Court of Common Pleas (England)
    The Court of Common Pleas, or Common Bench, was a common law court in the English legal system that covered "common pleas"; actions between subject and subject, which did not concern the king. Created in the late 12th to early 13th century after splitting from the Exchequer of Pleas, the Common...

  • Court of Probate
    Probate
    Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person by resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person's property under the valid will. A probate court decides the validity of a testator's will...

     and Matrimonial Causes
    Divorce
    Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...



Other historical courts include:
  • House of Lords
    Judicial functions of the House of Lords
    The House of Lords, in addition to having a legislative function, historically also had a judicial function. It functioned as a court of first instance for the trials of peers, for impeachment cases, and as a court of last resort within the United Kingdom. In the latter case the House's...

  • Star Chamber
    Star Chamber
    The Star Chamber was an English court of law that sat at the royal Palace of Westminster until 1641. It was made up of Privy Counsellors, as well as common-law judges and supplemented the activities of the common-law and equity courts in both civil and criminal matters...

  • Court of High Commission
    Court of High Commission
    The Court of High Commission was the supreme ecclesiastic court in England. It was instituted by the crown during the Reformation and finally dissolved by parliament in 1641...

  • Court of Piepowders
    Court of Piepowders
    A Court of Piepowders was a special tribunal in England organised by a borough on the occasion of a fair or market. These courts had unlimited jurisdiction over personal actions for events taking place in the market, including disputes between merchants, theft, and acts of violence...

     (marketplace courts)
  • Assize Court
  • Quarter sessions
    Quarter Sessions
    The Courts of Quarter Sessions or Quarter Sessions were local courts traditionally held at four set times each year in the United Kingdom and other countries in the former British Empire...


Local courts of special jurisdiction

The Courts of Session of the County Palatine of Chester and the Principality of Wales
Principality of Wales
The Principality of Wales existed between 1216 and 1542, encompassing two-thirds of modern Wales.It was formally founded in 1216 at the Council of Aberdyfi, and later recognised by the 1218 Treaty of Worcester between Llywelyn the Great of Wales and Henry III of England...

 were abolished section 14 of by the Law Terms Act 1830
Law Terms Act 1830
The Law Terms Act 1830 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that made various changes to the court system of England and Wales....

.

The Court of the County of Durham
Court of the County of Durham
The Court of the County of Durham was a court that exercised jurisdiction within the County Palatine of Durham. It was abolished, subject to certain savings, on the 5 July 1836.-Abolition:Section 2 of the Durham Act 1836 provided:...

 was abolished by section 2 of the Durham (County Palatine) Act 1836
Durham (County Palatine) Act 1836
The Durham Act 1836 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Doubts about the construction of this Act led to the enactment of the Durham County Palatine Act 1858.-Repeal:...

.

The Stannary Court was abolished by the Stannaries Court (Abolition) Act 1896.

The following courts were merged into the High Court by section 41 of the Courts Act 1971
Courts Act 1971
The Courts Act 1971 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom the purpose of which was to reform and modernise the courts system of England and Wales....

:
  • The Court of Chancery of the County Palatine of Lancaster
    Court of Chancery of the County Palatine of Lancaster
    The Court of Chancery of the County Palatine of Lancaster was a court of chancery that exercised jurisdiction within the County Palatine of Lancaster.-Relevant legislation:The court was regulated by the following Acts in particular:...

  • The Court of Chancery of the County Palatine of Durham and Sadberge
    Court of Chancery of the County Palatine of Durham and Sadberge
    The Court of Chancery of the County Palatine of Durham and Sadberge was a court of chancery that exercised jurisdiction within the County Palatine of Durham.-Relevant legislation:...



Section 42 replaced the Mayor's and City of London Court
Mayor's and City of London Court
The Mayor's and City of London Court is a County Court in the City of London. It is located at Guildhall Buildings, Basinghall Street.The current court is the successor to courts pre-dating the County Courts Act 1846, which introduced the modern system of county courts...

 with a county court
County Court
A county court is a court based in or with a jurisdiction covering one or more counties, which are administrative divisions within a country, not to be confused with the medieval system of county courts held by the High Sheriff of each county.-England and Wales:County Court matters can be lodged...

 of the same name.

Section 43 abolished:
  • The Tolzey and Pie Poudre Courts of the City and County of Bristol
  • The Liverpool Court of Passage
    Liverpool Court of Passage
    The Liverpool Court of Passage was, at the time of its abolition, a local court of record which actively exercised a civil jurisdiction comparable to or greater than that of the county court for the district in which it was situated.-Abolition:...

  • The Norwich Guildhall Court
    Norwich Guildhall Court
    The Norwich Guildhall Court was, at the time of its abolition, a local court of record which actively exercised a civil jurisdiction comparable to or greater than that of the county court for the district in which it was situated.-Abolition:...

  • The Court of Record for the Hundred of Salford


Section 221 of the Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
The Local Government Act 1972 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974....

 abolished the borough civil courts listed in Schedule 28 to that Act.

Part II of Schedule 4 to the Administration of Justice Act 1977 curtailed the jurisdiction of certain other anomalous local courts.

See also

  • Courts of Northern Ireland
    Courts of Northern Ireland
    The courts of Northern Ireland are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in Northern Ireland: they are constituted and governed by Northern Ireland law....

  • Courts of Scotland
    Courts of Scotland
    The civil, criminal and heraldic Courts of Scotland are responsible for the administration of justice. They are constituted and governed by Scots law....

  • Judiciary of England and Wales
    Judiciary of England and Wales
    There are various levels of judiciary in England and Wales — different types of courts have different styles of judges. They also form a strict hierarchy of importance, in line with the order of the courts in which they sit, so that judges of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales are generally...

  • Her Majesty's Courts Service
    Her Majesty's Courts Service
    Her Majesty's Courts Service is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice and is responsible for the administration of the civil, family and criminal courts in England and Wales....

  • List of Courts in England and Wales
  • Legal year
    Legal year
    In English law, the legal year is the calendar during which the judges sit in court. The year is divided into four terms:* Michaelmas term - from October to December* Hilary term - from January to April* Easter term - from April to May, and...

  • English law
    English law
    English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

  • Contemporary Welsh Law
    Contemporary Welsh Law
    Contemporary Welsh Law is a term applied to the body of primary and secondary legislation generated by the National Assembly for Wales, according to devolved authority granted in the Government of Wales Act 2006. Each piece of Welsh legislation is known as an Act of the Assembly. The first Assembly...

  • Scots Law
    Scots law
    Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is considered a hybrid or mixed legal system as it traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. With English law and Northern Irish law it forms the legal system of the United Kingdom; it shares with the two other systems some...

  • European Union Law
    European Union law
    European Union law is a body of treaties and legislation, such as Regulations and Directives, which have direct effect or indirect effect on the laws of European Union member states. The three sources of European Union law are primary law, secondary law and supplementary law...

  • Canon Law
    Canon law
    Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

  • Courts of the Republic of Ireland
    Courts of the Republic of Ireland
    The Courts of the Republic of Ireland consist of the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal, the High Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court. The courts apply the laws of Ireland. Ireland is a common law jurisdiction and trials for serious offences must usually be held before a jury...

  • List of Supreme Court of Judicature cases

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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