AQA LAW01 - The Courts System

For AS LAW01 exam with AQA examining body.

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Inferior Courts - Magistrates

Magistrates Court.

Has some civil jurisdiction - largely administrative and domestic cases.

The courts administrative powers relate to civil debts on non-payment of bills, and taxes, etc.

They hear some family cases, such as; orders for protection against violence, maintenence orders, welfare for children, etc.

Sometimes deal with issues regarding licenses for the sale of alcohol, tobacco and betting, etc.

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Inferior Courts - County Court

Created in the County Courts Act 1846 - meaning that local courts could have jurisdiction to settle small claims. Taking the pressure off of the higher courts.

Deals with Contract and Tort claims up to £50,000 (except libel cases)

Deals with:Undefended divorce, family law, probate, bankruptcy, taxes, land law disputes, etc.

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Superior Courts - High Court

This court is divided into three divisions - QBD - Queen's Bench Division; Family division and Chancery division.

Queen's Bench Division - Broad Jurisdiction; deals with contract and tort, with some civil cases nd is headed by the Lord Chief Justice.

Family Division - Deals with matrimonial disputes where there is no suing; only interest for clarification on a point of law.

Chancery Division - Deals with matters of finance and is headed by the Lord Chancellor.

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Claims Track System

3 tracks; Small claims, Fast-track and multi-track.

Small Claims - up to £5,000 claims or up to the value of £1,000 for injury claims. They are heard by a District judge and claimants are encouraged to represent themselves to keep a low cost.

Fast-track - Up to the value of £15,000. All cases are within a fixed, strict timetables that ensures the case will be completes in 30 weeks.

Multi-track - this track allows the transfer of cases between the county court and the high court.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Civil courts

Advantages

  • It is a compulsory process. There is no other process which effectively compels the other side to come to a forum to resolve a dispute.
  • The formality of the procedure. The rules of evidence, disclosure and legal argument all ensure a fair process.
  • Appeal Process. There is no other dispute resolution process with allows appeals.
  • Legal Aid. Legal ain is still wiely available for court litigation.
  • Law Making and Development. Only courts can make and develop legal rules through the doctrine on precedent.
  • Enforcement of decision. Courts have a greater power to enforce their decisions.

Disadvantages

  • Too expensive. Lawyers are usually needed due to a cases certain complexity, therefore adding cost.
  • Delays. These place intolerable psychological and financial stress on accident victims and defendants, etc.
  • Injustice. A settlement usually tends to be reached before the litigants have even reached their trial.
  • The adversial process. This encourages the cases manoervering rather than co-operation.
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Criminal Offences clasification

There are 3 different classes for criminal offences.

Summary Offences - For minor offences such as theft. Only tries in Magistrates.

Either-Way offences - For serious minor offences such as ****. Can be tried in either Magistrates of Crown Court.

Indicatable offences - For Serious offences, such as murder. Can only be tried in Crown court with a judge and jury.

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Criminal Courts

Magistrates - hear over 1m cases per year. All summary offences and most either-way offences. Youth courts, aged between 10 & 17. All Appeals go to the Queen's Bench Division.

Crown - Hearing cases from Magistrates, as well as all indictable offences and some of the more serious either-way offences. Class 1 offences are heard  by a High Court Judge from QBD as well as some Class 2 offences. Less serious offences are heard by circuit judges or recorders. All crow court cases decisions are made a jury.

Court of Appeal - Criminal Division. The Lord Chief Justice presides. 3 judges create a panel; usually with the Lord Justice of Appeal and 2 senior High Court judges.

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