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The Civil Justice System Describe the main Civil Courts and their jurisdiction.

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The Civil Justice System A) Describe the main Civil Courts and their jurisdiction. There are four main civil courts in the English Legal System, which hold civil jurisdiction; the County Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and The House of Lords. There are also smaller civil courts with some jurisdiction such as the magistrate's court and then there is, of course, the European Court of Justice setting precedent for all our courts. The magistrate's court has a very small amount of civil jurisdiction. They are responsible for granting licences to pubs, betting shops and other outlets. They also have jurisdiction over some domestic matters such as adoption and some other matrimonial matters. The magistrates require some training before undertaking these sorts of cases and uniformity is upheld as appeals are taken to the family division of the High Court. The civil jurisdiction of the magistrate's courts is quite minimal and overlaps with that of the County Court and High Court. They also have responsibility for dealing with civil debts such as money owed for council tax, electricity and other state-charged utilities. The County Court deals with the widest range of civil matters and these can include anything from contractual problems, to divorce cases and other matters linked to property and children.


The Queens Bench Division is headed by Lord Chief Justice and the vast majority of cases that come before this court are concerned with all forms of tort law and breach of contract. The Queen's Bench Division also conducts judicial Review cases. The Chancery Division deals with company law matters, conveyancing, land law matters, copyright actions and breach of patent, probate and taxation cases. The final division is the Family Division whose jurisdiction is primarily to hear divorce and matrimonial cases. Also it hears social welfare cases (child welfare, financial orders for the division of family property, payment of maintenance and others.) Other minor issues concerning the court include adoption, custody and the access of children. B) Discuss the problems of making a claim in the civil courts. When making a civil claim in the civil courts there are many problems that will be encountered. The main problem with civil actions is the cost. The reforms suggested by Woolf in the 1997 Civil Procedure Act have only increased costs even though many changes have been implemented. Before you even get to court you must pay £90 for an N1 form to launch a civil action, detailing the reasoning for your action and the compensation you wish to recoup.


In particular the Small Claims procedure where a HUGE backlog of cases causes massive delays. The procedure also is not simple enough meaning that delays are caused for explanation and more time is needed to contemplate legal tactics. Another problem is the fact more and more lawyers and solicitors are finding their way into Small Claims cases. This is causing delays as they will attempt to make cases last longer to increase their pay, also making the balance of representation waver in favour of more financially competent people and big business. The Small Claims procedure is not the only track full of delays. It can take up to 30 weeks for a fast track case to reach a verdict and even then a study has shown in all civil cases only one third of winning parties receive their damages at all. All in all, even after the attempts to reform it, the Civil Justice system still proves flawed, biased towards the more wealthy and unjust. Not to mention ridiculously expensive. There are many critics of the attempts to change the system but there is not simple solution. Lord Justice Woolf's try will not be the last. At least it reflects a desire to reform and change with social climates, financial backgrounds and general evolution, rather than being conservative and trapped in pointless, sentimental tradition. David Timmins SJU5 Law 28/02/2003

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