Magistrate’s court (Criminal):
The magistrate’s court deals with 97% of cases. It covers offences such as road traffic and assault. The maximum sentences this court can give are 6 months and or fine someone £5k. Triable either way (guilty or not guilty) offences may be also heard here or only first instance court cases are heard here. 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. In a crown court there normally is a jury which decides if you’re guilty or not and also had a judge which decides which sentence you got and how long it is. It can give many sentences which range from community sentences and or prison sentences including life sentences. The crown court deals with around 3% of most criminal offences. Offences such as murder, rape etc are covered in this court. The trial is performed by the jury. There are no limitations to fines and life sentences can be given. In this court they only hear first instance cases. They are bound by all the higher courts decisions.
County Court (Civil):
The county court covers one or more counties and deals with cases such as divorce, child custody, injury claims etc. They only hear first instance cases and are bound by all the higher court decisions. Complicated cases are held here such as family, as well as personal injury etc. This court covers these types of offences worldwide.
High Court (Criminal/Civil):
The high court deals with 3 divisions:
- Family Division – family issues like divorce, child custody etc.
- Chancery Division – bankruptcy, tax, financial problems etc.
- Queen’s Bench Division – tort, contract and commercial law etc.
The Judges have to listen to cases regarding the family and custody of the children and their welfare. The judges have a special power which allows them to get custody to someone under the age of 18 who is a minor. Judges also listen to previous cases which are passed on to them from County Court.
The aim of these decisions is to solve personal problems. It is in partnership of the high court system with deals with problems such as trust and probate claims. Appeals from the lower courts are heard at the high court. They also deal with cases regarding parenting.
Queens Bench Division
This division is part of the High Courts. Hence the name, Queen’s division. It is used for both criminal and civil cases. The cases at this division are heard by the president and 73 high court judges. The judges here usually deal with civil cases such as business problems and contract issues and cases about tort. The cases regarding contract issues are mainly about failure to pay for goods and breach of contracts. The Queens Bench division also deals with things such as trespassing and damage to property. The Queen Bench Division contains Courts such as The Commercial and The Technology and Construction courts.
Court of Appeal:
The court of appeal has the criminal and civil division and deals with appeals from HC county and Crown Court. It is the second most powerful court. The court of appeal is under the criminal and civil division. Its decisions are binding on the lower courts but not the SC
Supreme Court is the most powerful court in England. All lower courts are bound by its decision. It usually hears appeals on uncertainty surrounding a point of law. The Supreme Court was known as the House of Lords until 2009. This is the most powerful court in England. All other lower courts are bound by its decisions. Until 1966 The HOL was bound by its own previous decisions except in case of per incuriam (decision based on error). It usually hears appeals on uncertainty surrounding a point of law.
To conclude I have briefly explained the different court systems and have done it in order of ranks. I have explained the use of civil and criminal court hierarchies. To outline the civil and criminal court hierarchies.