District Judges

  • Small claims in the County Court
  • May try criminal cases where they sit alone and decide facts and sentence.
  • May hear family cases but will sit with two Magistrates.
  • Must be a qualified solicitor/barrister for 5 years and Legal Executives can apply for this role.
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  • Part time judges who sit mainly in the Crown Court. 
  • They can sit in the County Court and hear civil cases.
  • They are appointed for a 5 year period.
  • Only work 1 month per year and they work as solicitors or barristers for the rest of the year. 
  • Must have 7 years as a qualified solicitor/barrister.
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Circuit Judges

  • Sit in the Crown Court and the County Court and so the majority of the work in these courts.
  • In civil cases they sit alone and decide the facts and law and decide who won.
  • In criminal cases they sit with a jury. The judge decides the law and sentences if found guilty.
  • They must have been a qualified solicitor/barrister for 7 years
  • Recorders and District Judges can apply for this role.
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High Court Judges

  • Each judge in the High Court will be appointed to one of the three divisions.
  • The main role is to try cases. The judge will hear evidence, decide on what the law is and make a decision on who has won. They may also decide on the amount of damages.
  • They must have been a solicitor/barrister for 7 years.
  • A circuit judge is appointed to this level after 2 years.
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Lord Justices of Appeal

  • Hear appeals in the criminal and civil divisions of the Court of Appeal.
  • In criminal cases they hear over 7,000 applications for appeals and these are dealt with by one judge however only a quarter will actually be appealed. 
  • Court of Appeal judges sit as a panel of 3.
  • Hear 3,000 civil appeals each year.
  • You have to have been a High Court Judge or 7 years as a barrister/solicitor. 
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Justices of the Supreme Court

  • Sit in the Supreme Court and hear appeals on important points of law.
  • A case can only be appealed here if there is a point of law involved e.g. civil cases involving complex areas such as tax law.
  • Any decision made here becomes a precedent for all other courts to follow.
  • They must have been an advocate in higher courts for al least 15 years.
  • Hold 'high judicial office' in UK for 2 years (worked as a judge in a higher court).
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