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Distinguish Criminal law from Civil law in the English Legal System. Outline the jurisdiction and composition of the courts of trial dealing with these two different types of cases.

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Distinguish Criminal law from Civil law in the English Legal System. Outline the jurisdiction and composition of the courts of trial dealing with these two different types of cases. FIRST YEAR BA (HONS) ACCOUNTING AND FINANCE PATHWAYS LAW - ASSIGNMENT ONE Distinguish Criminal law from Civil law in the English Legal System. Outline the jurisdiction and composition of the courts of trial dealing with these two different types of cases. To what extent is it possible to appeal against decisions of the courts of trial? One of the main differences between criminal cases and civil cases is that they are held in different courts, this is because there is a significant distinction between a civil wrong and a criminal wrong. Crimes are considered to be a type of wrongdoing, however civil wrongs tend to have only and impact on the parties involved in the case. For example: a breach of contract. Where as criminal wrongs tend to have an impact on society itself. For example: a murder, theft or rape. Criminal law is dealt with in the Magistrates court and if very serious in the Crown court. It is said to be more difficult to win a case in the Magistrates court and Crown court than in a civil court as in a magistrates and crown court the evidence has to be proved beyond doubt and in a civil court evidence can be proved on a balance of probabilities. ...read more.


Substantive law includes contract law, tort law, and so on. A procedural system provides the mechanism for applying substantive law to real disputes. A good procedural system should provide guidelines as to what information is received by the judge or jury, how that information is to be presented, and what by standards of proof ("beyond a reasonable doubt," "by clear and convincing evidence," "by a preponderance of the evidence") the information will be adjudged. A good procedural system ensures that the courts will treat similar cases similarly. There are two main courts of trial for civil cases - the high court and the county courts. The magistrates' courts have an important civil jurisdiction principally concerned with cases involving the breakdown of marriage - separation and maintenance orders - which are often prelude to a divorce in a County Court. The magistrates also have a licensing function involving public house licences, clubs and betting shops. The high courts are currently split into three divisions - Queens bench decisions, Chancery Division and the Family Division. The QBD is the largest and specialises in cases involving contracts and torts - sometimes revered to as the common law division. Within its jurisdiction there are three special courts - the Commercial Court, the Admiralty Court and the Technology and Constitution court. ...read more.


The CCRC suffers a serious backlog of cases and has been criticised for its assessment of priority cases. The CCRC has to decide that there is a 'real possibility' that the Court of Appeal will overturn the conviction or sentence before referring a case. Thus it may be hampered by the narrow way the Court of Appeal interprets its function. Appeals from the High Court lie in the court of appeal (civil division) but only if leave is granted (and this is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain). Final appeals lie to the House of Lords. An important part of law must be involved and again leave must be granted, this is very rare. Cases from the count court cannot appeal unless leave is granted. However there is an important arbitration process involving cases up to ?,000. This involves a low-key hearing presided over a district judge where the formalities of the full court are ignored. This is a popular and successful method of disposing a case as costs are not usually awarded against the loser (unlike in the full court). Legal representation is discouraged in this way. An 'integrated' theory of the civil justice system encompasses not merely formal legal rules and state courts, but also the numerous others kinds of dispute resolution mechanisms which exist to resolve civil disputes. ...read more.

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This answer addresses all three elements of the question, distinguishing civil and criminal law, the jurisdiction of both civil and criminal courts and considering appeals.
The answer could be improved by initially making more distinctions between civil and criminal law. However the jurisdiction of the courts and especially appeals are well covered.
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Marked by teacher Nick Price 18/03/2012

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