Understanding the courts system for England and Wales is not for the feint-hearted – with a hierarchy of different courts, it can be a little confusing to the un-trained eye. However, these courts are in place to each deal with cases of certain natures, and some cases can only reach certain courts by appeal. This guide uncovers the court system the role of each of the different courts.
The Court of Appeal
The highest court within the senior courts is The Court of Appeal. Within this are two divisions, the Civil Division and the Criminal Division.
The Civil Division hears appeals from:
- The Three Divisions of the High Court – Chancery, Queen’s Bench and Family Division;
- From the County Courts across England and Wales;
- From certain Tribunals such as the Employment Appeal Tribunal, the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, the Lands Tribunal and the Social Security Commissioners.
The Criminal Division hears appeals from:
- The Crown Court.
The High Court
Together with the Crown Court and the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Justice is one of the senior courts of England and Wales. It is also known as the High Court of England and Wales, abbreviated to EWHC.
The High Court deals at first instance with all high value and high importance cases, and also has a supervisory jurisdiction over all subordinate courts and many, but not all, tribunals.
The High Court is based at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand in central London. It has ‘district registries’ across England and Wales, and virtually all proceedings in the High Court may be issued and heard at a district registry. It is headed by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.
Split into three main divisions, the High Court consists of: the Queen’s Bench Division, the Chancery Division, and the Family Division. The Senior Courts Costs Office, which deals with the quantification of legal costs pursuant to costs orders made by the courts, falls outside of these divisions.
Within the Queen’s Bench Division are a number of specialist courts, including the Administrative Courts and Mercantile Courts. The work of the administrative court is varied, consisting of the administrative law jurisdiction of England and Wales, as well as a supervisory jurisdiction over inferior courts and tribunals. Mercantile Courts were first established during the 1990s with the purpose of providing a modern, accessible and efficient specialist court service to citizens around the country, as well as to businesses and companies involved in commercial transactions and dispute.
The County Court deals with both civil and family matters, from debt actions and personal injury claims to family issues such as divorce and matrimonial finance, and cases involving children, adoption, and jurisdictional issues.
Members of our Family Team regularly attend the County Courts for all matters concerning private law children and public law children cases, to the financial cases involving multi million pound assets. Similarly, members of the Personal Injury Team feature across the country in many different County Courts dealing with approval hearings, right up to the catastrophic injury cases in the multi-track courts.
The Royal Courts of Justice is the building that accommodates the Court of Appeal and the High Court.
The Crown Court deals with more serious criminal cases, such as murder and robbery, some of which are on appeal or referred from the Magistrates Court. There are some cases where defendants can be convicted in a magistrates’ court and sentenced in a Crown Court due to the seriousness of the case.
Since 1982, our Barristers have had a significant presence in the Crown Court and with an impressive acquittal record, we continue to provide excellent advocacy for all of our clients.
Virtually all criminal cases start at the Magistrates Court. The court also handles many family, civil, and licensing matters. Decisions of the Magistrates’ Courts can be appealed to the County Courts.
Barristers at St Pauls will attend the Magistrates Court for anything from cases in the Family Proceedings Court, motoring offences, general criminal cases, and RSPCA prosecutions.
Coroners are Judicial Officers responsible for investigating violent, unnatural, or sudden deaths where the cause is unknown. An Inquest is to determine who the deceased person was, how, when and where the individual died, but now why.
Our members are required to attend many different levels of courts and tribunals over the course of their careers. As a result, members of St Pauls Chambers are experienced in a wide variety of cases and severities of offences.
Get in touch to find out how our Barristers can help your case.