Types of courts in the UK
The courts system in the UK is not unified. England and Wales have one system, with Scotland and Northern Ireland having separate systems of their own. The courts system across the entire UK deals with both criminal and civil cases.
All of the courts in the UK are managed and operated by Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS). HMCS is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. All courts in England and Wales are designed to deliver justice using a number of different courts:
- County Court
- Magistrates' Court
- Crown Court
- Royal Courts of Justice
- Youth Court
- The Supreme Court
There are 216 County Courts in the country. Generally, the County Courts deal with:
- Personal injury
- Breach of contract regarding goods or property
- Divorce and other family issues
- The repossession of houses
- Claims for debts
The magistrates' courts are where the vast majority of the criminal cases are heard. These courts also deal with a wide range of civil cases including:
- Hearing cases of people that have not paid their council tax bills
- Granting betting, gambling and alcohol licenses
- Hearing cases that deal with families and children
- General family law matters
In the Crown Courts cases are heard by a judge and a 12-person jury. There are currently 77 Crown Courts across England and Wales. Crown Courts deal with serious crimes including:
Royal Courts of Justice
The Royal Courts of Justice is divided into a number of specific groups each with their own courts. These groups include:
- The Court Appeal
- High Court
- Administrative Court (formerly known as the Crown Office)
The Youth Courts are special types of Magistrates' Court that hear cases that deal with young offenders aged between 10 and 17. Specially trained Magistrates handle Youth Court cases. However, more serious offences can be referred to the Crown Court.
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom considers major points of law that used to be heard by a committee within the House of Lords. The court cases that this court will hear include appeal cases that have not been successful in other courts.
As such the Supreme Court is the last court of appeal in the UK.
As you can see, a legal matter can be a lot more complicated than initially thought and it is often crucial to consult a legal expert. They will be able to assess the merits of the case and submit the right legal proceedings, saving you time and money.
If you require the advice of an expert solicitor, contact us now.
For further information on the highest appeal court in England and Wales, see our page on the new Supreme Court.
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