Civil courts and adr notes

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The civil courts and other forms of civil dispute
Courts of first instance:
Civil disputes are between individuals, partnership companies, local/national government
Can disagree on: contract, negligence claim, landlord and tenant relationship
Local or national government departments may be the subject of a claim for judicial review
A claimant issues proceedings in a civil court by giving the court a description of the claim
along with a court fee
The claim is then sent to the defendant for a response in the form of a defence to the
Two main civil courts: County Court and High Court
Magistrates court is a criminal court but does have some civil jurisdiction
Above courts are referred to as `courts of first instance' as claims can be commenced and
decided there
A dispute can lead to the reconsideration from a higher court known as an appeal
250 county courts in England and Wales; approx. 170 have jurisdiction to hear family cases
as well as civil disputes
High Courts have jurisdiction to hear all types of civil disputes
Magistrates' Court:
Jurisdiction over most family matters (except divorce)
Can deal with un-paid council tax, charges for water, gas and electricity
Can hear appeals from local authorities in regards to granting licences for gambling and
sale of alcohol
County Court:
Deals with many civil disputes: cases on contract, tort, bankruptcy, property, divorce
Cases involving less than £5,000 are transferred to the small claims track and dealt with
and heard by District judges. Example: Minor road incident
Cases involving £5,000-£15,000 are transferred to fast track and are heard by a Circuit
judge. Example: Serious industrial incident
Cases over £15,000 are transferred to the multi-track and may be heard by a Circuit judge
or may be transferred to the High Court due to the complexity of the law or the cases
concern profession negligence. Example: Commercial law case
High Court:
High court has three divisions which are sub-divided in to the court
Civil claims may be issued and where appeals from lower civil courts will be heard
There are approximately 120 high court judges
Cases of the multi-track may be heard in this court rather than the County court due to the
legal complexity of the case, money and the type of case it is
Queen's Bench Division:
Main court dealing with contract and tort cases
Approximately 70 Hugh Court Judges
Cases are heard by the Royal Courts of Justice but may able be heard by one of the High
Court's District Registries around the country
Family Division:
Deals with all aspects of family matters including: divorce, related children, financial
claims, adoption and care proceedings
Chancery Division:
Deals with cases related to the rules of equity (fairness)
Modern version deals with cases such as partnership disputes, company law, disputes about
wills or trusts, bankruptcy, sale of land and creation of mortgages

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Approximately 20 judges who sit in the Chancery Division
Includes specialist courts, example: Companies Court
Cases will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice or in one of the eight specified
Chancery centres in the country
Appeal Hearings:
A party is dissatisfied with the court's decision and requests a higher court to review the
earlier decision
Access to Justice Act 1999 means that the majority of appeals will only be allowed to
proceed if the original court or the appeal court has given authorisation…read more

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Conciliator is neutral and is not acting as a representative
Types of disputes:
ACAS operates conciliation scheme in industrial disputes for example in Employment
tribunal cases
ACAS is sent a copy of the employee's claim and employer's response
ACAS representative will be an expert on employment law
People involved:
Conciliator: will organise a convenient time and place
Parties involved with their legal advisers (if any)
Conciliator will listen to the grievances of the parties and make suggestions on how the
problem can be resolved…read more

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Legal expertise/experience: Lack of technical knowledge:
Judges have gained experience of law and the Judges may have limited knowledge on the
legal system through acting as lawyers and matter under dispute
judges Example: a building dispute
Will guide parties through the court process Judge has to rely on another (expert) rather
Example: Final decision will have an than on his own expertise
explanation with a description of the law used
to reach the decision.…read more

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Example: An employer's letter of apology to
Cost: Lack of certainty:
Least expensive of all the ADRs Does not follow rules of precedent
Example: No court of legal fees Example: No `certainty' that a successful
Reduces the expenses of parties negotiation will be reached
Can cause more disagreements
Privacy: Enforceability:
Proceedings are conducted in private Agreements are not always enforced by courts
Example: Not publicised in the media Example: Can lead to parties `breaking' off
Parties feel secure that the case is confidential agreements…read more

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Empowerment: Lack of certainty:
Empowers parties as a decision is not forced No certainty of the outcome of the mediation
upon them, encouraged to reach a mutual due to not following rules of precedent or
agreement parties not accepting offers
Example: Research conducted by Professor Example: Paul McCartney and Heather Mills
Green (2002) indicates parties are satisfied Divorce lead to increased costs
by the outcome Can prolong the case further and reduced
Cost: Enforceability :
Process is not expensive Mediation settlement is not binding…read more

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Example: A surveyor will charge hourly in a
building dispute
Process is less formal than courts
No rules of evidence and use of lawyers
Example: In a dispute dealt with through ABTA,
the parties may represent themselves, not
needing detailed knowledge of relevant law
Cost-saving to the State:
Use of arbitration free courts from dealing
with many disputes
Example: Small disputes on holiday and
employment cases may be dealt with by
Allows courts to focus on large disputes of
technical nature
Advantages…read more


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