The UK court system sees over 2.9 million court cases per year. Each one judges on a varying severity of crimes. Since there are various levels of criminality in the UK, the country must use a different type of court to decide on the cases of each. That is why there are so many levels of court within the British judiciary system. Read on to learn more about these courts and what type of crime they contend with.
1: County Court
The county court is set up to deal with civil matters. These are cases tied up with contract disputes and other types of monetary matters. Many people that bring their cases before a judge in this venue will normally try to negotiate terms with the other party first. However, if these negotiations fail, then it is up to a judge to decide upon the result.
Examples of county court cases include injury claims, landlord or tenant disputes, consumer complaints, and more. It is rare for these cases to escalate to a criminal case, but that is for a different type of court entirely.
2: Magistrates Court
The magistrate’s court is a criminal court; however, it is reserved for minor offences. You may be interested to learn that these cases are not presided over by a qualified judge. Instead, an unpaid volunteer will listen to the cases as a Justice of the Peace. These cases will often include driving offences, theft, battery charges, or assault. If a person is found guilty of the latter, then their case may move up a stage of the crown court depending on the seriousness of the offence.
3: Crown Court
The crown court is considered a step up from the magistrate’s court, and this is where a judge and jury will preside over some of the most serious crimes in the country. These include armed robbery, murder, GBH, and sexual offences.
However, abuse claims are far more serious and can include several additional rules to the proceedings. For example, anyone seeking sexual abuse compensation will need to remain anonymous and provide evidence remotely. The victims’ sexual abuse solicitors will be able to advise them more about these issues, but it is normal for members of the jury to abstain from these cases as the subject matter is very sensitive.
4: Family Court
Family court is not a place for criminal cases. Instead, it is a place for families to discuss civil claims that relate to their domestic lives. Again, these cases will often be talked through before, but the dispute reaches the court stage when both parties fail to reach an agreeable conclusion on matters. These matters relate to issues of divorce, adoption, and child arrangement orders.
It is highly unlikely that these cases result in any form of criminal prosecution. The judge or mediator is there to simply hear both sides of an argument and decide upon a way forward that is fair. Alternatively, a judge may neglect fairness and make a decision based on what is best for the welfare of any child caught up in these matters.
5: High Court
The high court is very different from all the others listed above, and any type of case that has been mentioned previously can easily find its way here. The purpose of the high court is to rule on any civil or criminal cases that have been sent for an appeal.
An appeal can happen for several reasons. One reason is that an error has been found in the original court case. This error may have caused an oversight from the original judge, causing them to rule another way. The high court will review the case again with the knowledge of this error to determine if any rulings were unjust.
The second reason why a case ends up in high court is that new evidence has come to light. Since there isn’t the time or resources available to redo the court case, a high court judge will review the case with the new evidence to again see if this impacts the original verdict.
The last case for appeal happens when an individual is unhappy with the result of a case and wants it reviewed again by an independent body. It is extremely difficult to succeed in an appeal of this nature, and it will only be granted if you can prove that there is significant support for your case. For example, a petition with a specific number of signatures can reach the ears of a high court judge.
It is quite easy to distinguish between the types of court systems in the UK once you research them. Each one follows a pattern of severity or topic, so you should now be able to understand what each court does and why.