The Hierarchy Of The Courts
- Justices of the Supreme Court - sit in Surpeme Court
- Lords Justices of Appeal - sit in Court of Appeal
- High Court Judges - sit in the three divisions
- Circuit Judges - sit in Crown Court and County Court
- Recorders - sit part-time in Crown Court and County Court
- District Judges - sit in Magistrates' Court and County Court
District Judges are the lowest level of full time judge. They sit in either the Magistrates' Courts or the County Courts.
District Judges sit in the County Courts to deal with small claims cases (under £5,000) and can also hear other cases for larger amounts.
District Judges who are appointed to the Magistrates' Courts try criminal cases in the Magistrates' Courts. They sit on their own and decide facts of law. When a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty, they also have to decide on the sentence.
They may also sit to hear family cases, but this will usually be with two lay magistrates.
Recorders are part-time judges who sit mainly in the Crown Court. It is also possible for a Recorder to sit in a County Court
Recorders are part-time judges who are appointed for a period of five years. They are used mainlt in the Crown Courts to try criminal cases, but some sit in the County Court to help with civil cases. They will only sit for about one month a year. The rest of the year they will work as a solicitor or barrister, or as a legal academic.
Circuit Judges sit in the Crown Court or the County Court. they do the majority of the work in these two cases.
Circuit Judges sit in the County Court to hear civil cases and also in the Crown Court to try criminal cases.
In civil casesthey sit on their own (it is very rare to have a jury in a civil case in the County Court). They decide the law and the facts. They make the decision on who has won the case.
In criminal cases they sit with a jury. The jury decide the facts and the judge decides the law. Where a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty by a jury, the judge then has to decide on the sentence.
High Court Judges
High Court Judges sit in the High Court to try civil cases. They can also sit in Crown Court to hear the most serious criminal cases.
High Court Judges are split into three divisions. There are 72 in the Queen's Bench Division, 17 in the Chancery Division and 18 in the Family Division. Their main role is to try casesat first instance.
High Court Judges also hear appeals, mainly from County Court civil cases. The judges in the Queen's Bench Division also hear criminal cases from the Magistrates Court for appeals on law. The Queen's Bench Division can also sit criminal cases in the Crown Court, with a jury who decide the facts.
Lords Justices of Appeal
Lords Justices of Appeals sit in the Court of Appeal. They hear cases in the criminal division of the Court of Appeal and the civil division of the Court of Appeal.
There are 37 Lords Justices of Appeal. They hear over 7,000 applications for criminal appeals per year, approving around 1,800 for a full hearing, and hear 3,000 civil appeals per year. The Judges sit on panels of three or five to decide the appeals.
Justice of The Supreme Court
Justices of the Supreme Court only hear around 70 cases per year and most of these are appeals. they sit in the Supreme Court.
A case will only be heard in the Supreme Court of the appeal is on a point of law. It takes both civil and criminal cases. All points of law decided of in Supreme Court sets precedent for all other courts. All points of law decided in the European Court of Justice must be upheald in all British courts.
To become a Justice of the Supreme Court, you must have held high judicial office for at least two years or been able to act as an advocate in highrt courts for fifteen years.