The Judicial System of Great Britain


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The courts in Gret Britin re divided into two lrge groups: criminl division nd civil division. Criminl courts re Mgistrtes’ Courts nd Crown Courts. The mjority of ll criminl cses re delt with in the Mgistrtes’ courts by mgistrtes who re lso clled Justice of Pece. Mgistrtes’ courts normlly consist of three JP’s up to seven.



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The Judicial System of Great Britain.

In Britain there are of three sources of law – Common Law, Equity Law and Statute Law.

Statute Law includes both laws passed in Parliament and acts of executive organs.

Common Law consists of a system of precedents, valid for subsequent similar cases.

Equity Law is system of law which exercised by Lord Chancellor and his staff.

Since Britain’s accession to the European Union, European Law has also become a source of the law in the United Kingdom. It is found in the Unions’ treaties and decisions of the Union Institutions.

The structure of the court system in Britain is many-layered. The courts in Great Britain are divided into two large groups: criminal division and civil division.

Criminal courts are Magistrates’ Courts and Crown Courts. The majority of all criminal cases are dealt with in the Magistrates’ courts by magistrates, who are also called Justice of Peace. Magistrates’ courts normally consist of three JP’s (up to seven). They try the huge number of criminal cases which are brought for trivial crimes. All these are summary offences.  JP’s are ordinary members of the community, who was appointed by Lord Chancellor on the recommendation of a Judicial Appointments Commission. JP’s have no legal qualifications. The clerk helps them on points of law. They receive no payment for their work. In some major cities, there are District Judges in magistrates’ courts. They are qualified lawyers, work full day and are paid salaries.

Crown Courts act as trial court for serious cases and as the court of appeal for Magistrates’ Courts. Only professional judges work in the Crown Courts. Crown Courts try indictable offences.

If a case is tried on the merits, there is a judge and a jury in a court room. The judge presides over by trial, but decision on guilt or innocence is made by a jury of twelve citizens.  The judges’ functions are, first, see that trial properly conducted; give guidance to the jury, and if jury finds the accused guilty, to decide upon the penalty and pronounce sentence.

Appeals against the decisions of the Crown court may be taken to the Court of Appeal.

The civil courts are county courts and High Court; also there are many special tribunals which settle many special disputes.

County courts dealt with minor cases. Only professional judges work in county courts.

The High Court of Justice is above the county court. There are three divisions in the High Court – the Queen’s Bench Division, Chancery division and Family Division.

The Queen’s Bench Division consists of about 80 High Court Judges. They try civil cases and exercises supervision over lower courts. It includes Commercial Court and Admiralty Court.

The Chancery Division consists of about 20 High Court Judges. It deals with only civil cases as, bankruptcy, trusts and taxes.

The Family Division consists of about 20 High Court Judges. It deals with matrimonial and family matters.

All divisional courts act as courts of first instance and as appellate courts.

The Court of Appeal hers most of important civil and criminal appeals from courts in England and Wales. There are two large divisions in Court of Appeal are Civil and Criminal Division

The Civil Division hears appeals in civil cases from High Court, county courts and more special courts. The Civil Division consists of 37 Lords or Lady Justices of Appeal and led by Master of the Rolls.

The Criminal Division hears appeals in criminal cases from Crown courts. The Criminal Division led by the Lord Chief of Justice.  

Till Constitutional Reform Act 2005 the highest judicial body was the House of Lords. The Constitutional Reform Act established the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in the United Kingdom. The main reason for establishment of the court is to separate legislative and judicial powers.