Civil Courts and other forms of dispute resolution


Civil Courts


  • Civil Courts deal with non-criminal matters, such as contract, tort and human rights issues. 
  • THey deal with disputes between individual citiizens and/or businesses.
  • The civil justice system was largely reformed in the 1990s. There are two key civil courts: The County Court and the High Court. 


  • in 1995, Lord Woolf reported 'Key problems facing civil justice today are cost, delay and complexity'
1 of 5

Jurisdiction of the County Court


  • Deals with the majority of civil matters and the enforcement of previous judgments that have not been complied with


  • Contract disputes
  • Tort actions
  • compensation claims for injuries
  • some bankruptcy and insolvency matters
  • disputes arising under the Equality Act 2010
  • defamation cases where all parties agree to County Court jurisdiction


  • Simpler system of civil courts post-woolf reforms
  • ADR is encouraged, but not always appropriate nor enforced by judges
  • Simpler DIY method of bringing a case, generally witha  fixed fee
  • Small claims court is less formal than main county court
  • Solicitor is not need in many cases
  • Appeal Routes possible
2 of 5

Jurisdiction of High COurt



  • Both civil cases and criminal cases
  • ommon-law business cases in contract
  • tort cases involving defamation, trespass, negligence or nuisance
  • Judicial review actions

Chancery Division hears:

  • Specialist civil cases e.g. company law, patenets etc.
  • Professional negligence cases
  • competition-law cases

Family Division hears:

  • Family-related cases
  • Cases involving children under Children Act 1989
  • Wardship cases involving custody and day-to-day care of minors


  • Clear and Distinct separation of types of law via the three divisions
  • Jury Trial possible in Tort cases
  • Expensive and time consuming cases can prevent many cases reaching high court
  • simplifed and single set of rules governing both the High Court and the COunty Court
3 of 5

The Three Tracks

  • Small claims tracks for straightforward claims of not more than £10,000 or personal injury of not more than £1000
  • Fast track for claims between £10,000 and not more than 25,0000
  • Multi-track for claims exceeding £25,000 and not more than £50,000
  • High court for more complex claims over £50,000
4 of 5


  • A first appeal from a decision of the small claims court or the fast track is heard by a next-level judge e.g. District Judge -> CIrcuit Judge. 
  • It is possible to appeal from circuit judge to High court juge.
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »See all Civil courts and ADR resources »