Civil Courts


Civil Courts Hierarchy

KeyAppeal courts First instance

  • Supreme Court
  • Court of Appeal
  • Divisional Court
  • High Court 
    • Queens Bench
    • Chancery
    • Family
  • County Court
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Criminal Courts Hierarchy

Key: Appeal courts First instance

  • Supreme Court
  • Court of Appeal
  • High Court
    • Queens Bench Divisional
  • Crown Court
  • Magistrates' Court
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The Civil Courts

  • Can be a dispute between two parties
  • Main areas of civil law are contract, tort, family and employment law
  • If the parties can't resolve the situation by negotiating between them then they will take it to either:
    • County Court
    • High Court
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County Court - Jurisdiction


  • The types of cases a court can deal with
    • higher the level of offence, higher the court it needs

County Courts can deal with:

  • Contract claims
  • Tort claims (negligence and nuisance)
  • Recovery of land
  • Bankruptcy
  • Wills and trusts up to £30,000
  • Common case - business trying to recover money they're owed

Heard by a District or Circuit Judge. Circuit judges generally hear cases worth over £15,000 or involving greater complexity.

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High Court - Queen's Bench Division (QBD)

  • Has greatest workload
  • Deals with contract and tort cases over £100,000
  • Moslty deals with multi-track cases
  • Most cases are heard by a single judge

Within the QBD, there is also:

  • Admiralty court - deals with shipping cases e.g. collisions at sea
  • Commercial court - deals with insurance and banking

QBD also hears judical review cases

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High Court - Chancery Division

Mainly try's disputes of a financial nature, including:

  • Land law/property
  • Mortgage enforcement
  • Bankruptcy
  • Copyright and patents

Cases heard by single judge and never is a jury used

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Family Division

Under the Crime and Courts Act 2013, the family court can only deal with two types of family cases:

  • Wardship/protection of children

Before 2014, family cases could be dealt by eother the Magistrate's Court, County Court or High Court Family Divison. The complexity of the case would determine which court the case was heard in.

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