• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Demonstrate your understanding of both the UK civil and criminal court systems and their hierarchical structures.

Extracts from this document...


Demonstrate your understanding of both the UK civil and criminal court systems and their hierarchical structures. The divide between criminal and civil law can be identified by the factions represented in court. In a civil court, i.e. magistrates, county or the high court, the two participants are private individuals. In a criminal court, i.e. magistrates, crown or the high court, one of the opposing parties is always the state; theoretically the Queen (represented by the Crown Prosecution Service), the other being the defendant; an individual person. An important similarity between criminal law and civil law to consider is that they both have a common purpose, most notably to control people's behaviour by setting limits on what acts are permissible in this country. Both have their own remedies. Civil law deals with individual wrongs. Criminal law deals with wrongs against society. In practice the difference between a civil and a criminal matter can be derived from who brings the case. A criminal matter is brought by the government, whereas a civil matter is brought by another person (or some private entity). The majority of private law is comprised of civil cases, mainly concerning a claimant and a defendant. Such cases arise when one individual has a grievance against another for personal harm done be it physical or mental, and therefore seeks compensation. An action has to be taken were the courts will settle the differences. ...read more.


In a magistrates court lay magistrates hear most cases normally in groups of three. Lay magistrates are part time, unpaid and do not need a legal qualification, however they are assisted by a legally qualified clerk who may advise if requested. Some, but very few cases may be heard by District |Judges. District judges are legally qualified, full time and paid, they sit alone and hear the longer and more difficult cases. Only summary offences such as motor offences and minor assaults are dealt with in the magistrate's court. Apart from the exception of triable either way offences which, can then be dealt with in either two courts of trial. The majority of criminal business is dealt with by magistrates and, despite ideology and triviality, they deal with serious cases. There is also a Youth Court within the Magistrates Court which deals with the offences of minors where a detention, training order or a custodial sentence can be issued. The Magistrates court is fundamentally a criminal court but also deals with matters falling under The Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates Court Act 1978, i.e. granting personal licenses and small civil debts. In a civil court the parties are heard by a single judge who decides, based on the amount of compensation sought and the nature of the case, which track to direct the claim. The small claims track hears cases seeking no more than five thousand pounds and personal injury claims of up to one thousand pounds. ...read more.


Complex cases may 'leapfrog' to the Supreme Court from the High Court. Criminal cases can be heard in the High Court (Administrative Court of the QBD) where cases are heard 'by way of case stated' by High Court Judges. The Court of Appeal may hear appeals from the crown court from both the defendant and the prosecution. Decisions in The Court of Appeal are made by 'Lord Justices of Appeal'. The House of Lords hears appeals from the Criminal Division or from the administrative court of the QBD via a 'leapfrog' procedure. Such appeals are heard on points of the law. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council grants appeals if there has been a considerable injustice served or if it is deemed that the accused has been denied a fair trial. The European Court of Justice may be consulted to give rulings on matters of European law. The European Court of Human Rights hears cases concerning breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights, which was signed in 1951 by a number of European countries, including the UK. In conclusion; criminal law primarily deals with the rehabilitation or punishment for wrongs, and ends in fines or imprisonment. Civil law is about righting a wrong and has the primary purpose of compensation. Lord Irvine distinguishes from the two in the following quote: "The criminal justice system is there to help protect us from crime, and to ensure that criminals are punished. The civil justice system is there to help people dispute their wrongs fairly and peacefully. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Machinery of Justice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Machinery of Justice essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is the name given to the process where parties in ...

    5 star(s)

    Some complex cases involve lengthy pre-action stages In factually complex cases, the pre-action stage can be very time consuming and be extremely costly, there is a potential irrecoverability of elements of pre-action costs if there are claims that are not subsequently pursued in the proceedings.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Non-fatal Offences?

    3 star(s)

    For example if only the offenders actually intend their actions; otherwise it will cause injustice, consequently not justifying the requirements. Another example is that s20 and 18 have the same interpretation. In Ireland and Burstow Lord Steyn said that the word cause in s18 and inflict in s20 were not

  1. Free essay

    Critically discuss whether the criminal courts of England and Wales require substantial reform. Firstly ...

    Well, I respectfully disagree. This is an area where modern technology has been hugely beneficial. The problem has some implications for the way in which our media have to address the problem of pre-trial publicity. It is legitimate for it to be pointed out that however measured our own media

  2. Evaluate the impact that government policies on war and terrorism have on UK law, ...

    In order to ensure the UK's safety and bolster national defence, Parliament has passed some wide-ranging legislation that has had a significant impact on the powers available to the police and security services, such as the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001; the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005; the Terrorism Act 2006; and the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

  1. Describe trial by jury within the English legal system. How effective is trial by ...

    Driving offences previously heard in a jury trial have been made triable only by magistrates. Professor Michael Zander supported this in 1997 on the grounds of inefficiency - due to many cases being changed to guilty plea at the last moment.

  2. Describe how civil disputes can be resolved without going to court (this does not ...

    He acts as an judge in a judicial, impartial manner but the difference is he does not have to have any technical points explained to him as in a court hearing. This lessens the time taken to form a resolution which will be more accurate because of expertise and will also dramatically cut the cost.

  1. Court proceedings.

    Should minority groups, for example, be able to ensure that a sample of their group is on the jury? Seeking, as some have argued, a racially balanced jury, necessarily militates against randomness. It is often suggested that juries, especially in cases involving racial incident, should be racially balanced, or that

  2. BTEC A Level Law P1 - explain the use of the courts in the ...

    Magistrate?s court is bound by all higher court decisions. Offences such as, speeding fines, trespassing, vandalism etc. Crown Court (Criminal): The crown court deals with offences such as murder and rape etc. It has no limitation to fines and can give life decisions if needed. It also covers appeals against a magistrate?s court conviction or sentence and many more.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work