Civil Courts

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  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 10-02-14 12:49


  • Civil cases cover a wide range there cannot be a very specific definition which will cover
  • Definition for civil claims is to say that these arise when an individual or a business believes that their rights have been infringed on some way
  • Main areas include contract, tort, family, employment and company law
  • Make claim, court decide whether defendant is liable or not and decides damages to be paid to claiment (person making the claim)
  • Two courts in which civil cases are tried are:
    • The County Court
    • The High Court
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County Court

  • 230 in England and Wales - in most major towns
  • Can try nearly all civil cases
  • Main Juristiction are:
    • Small claims - less than £5000
    • Fast track cases - between £5000 - £25000
    • Multi track cases - over £25000
    • All contract and tort claims
    • All cases for the recovery of land
    • Disputes over partnership, trusts and inheritance up to the value of £30000
  • Cases are heard by a circuit judge or a district judge
  • Very rare occasions it is possible for the judge to sit with a jury of 8 for cases of:
    • Defamation
    • False imprisonment
    • Malicious prosecution
    • Fraud
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High Court

  • Based in London
  • Judges sitting in 26 towns and cities throughout England and Wales
  • Power to hear any civil case
  • Three divisions - each of with specialises in hearing certain types of cases.

Queens Bench Division -

  • Nearly 90 High Court Judges sittting in this divison
  • Deals with contract and tort cases over £50,000
  • Cases normally heard by a single judge but can also sit with 12 jurors for the same 4 cases in county court

Chancery Division -

  • 18 High court judges
  • Disputes concerned with such matters as: insolvency, enforcment of mortgages, trust properties and copyright and patents
  • Heard by a single judge
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Family Division

  • 18 High Court judges
  • Hear wardship cases and all cases relating to children under the childerns act 1989
  • Other matters regarding the family such as declaration for nullity of marriage
  • heard by a single judge 
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Reforms of the Civil Court

  • The civil justice system is based on reforms recomended by Lord Woolf in 1996
  • He said that the civikl justice system should be fair anf just, not be too expencive, understanding of people who use it, provide certainty and be effective, adequately resurced and organised.
  • The report found hardly any of this was true, and citisised the system calling it unequal, expencive, slow, uncertain and complicated. Gave 303 recomendations including:
    • fast track for straightforward cases
    • encourage ADR
    • give judges more responsibility for managing cases
    • more use of IT 
    • simplify documents - single set of rules governing procedures in county and high court
  • research into the effect of the woolf refroms some five years after the reforms found that althoug cooperation between parites improved, case managment conferences were introduced and there was more uniformity procedured across the counrty there were still delays between issuing claims and the court hearing, little increase in the use of ADR and cost had increased.
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County to High Court Chancery Division - on a rulling of a county court on bankrupcy on decision

County to court of appeal

  • case heard by a distric judge appeal to circuit judge and then if needed onto coa
  • case heard by circuit judge appeal to high court judge then if needed onto coa
  • decision or damages or on a point of law

High court to COA - on a range of grounds including on a point of law, the decision of the amount of damages

High court to Supreme court (leapfrog) - appeal directly to supreme court on a point of law of general public importance

COA to Supreme court - on a point of law of general public importance

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1) Fair process - everyone is treated alike, the judge is impartial 2) Legal expert - decision is made by a judge who is an expert and qualified lawyer 3) Enforcement - any decision made can be enforced by the courts in a nuber of ways. 4) Appeals - set appeals routes from decisions made in the court. if the claiment isnt happy they have the right to appeal. 5) Legal aid - has been considerable reduced but their is still some types of cases where its available  

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1) Expensive - cost of taking a case to court is often more expencive than the amount claimed. 

2) Slow - many preliminary stages to go through. court hearing wait a long time usually about a year for larger claims.

3) Complicated - may be compulsory steps to be taken before a case is started in court. forms and set procedures to follow set out in the civil procedures rules. makes it complicated for an ordinary person to take a case without legal advise and help.

4) Uncertain - no guarantee of winning. if you lose may have to pay the other sides costs. makes it difficult to know how much a case is going to cost in advance. delays also add to the cost

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