Civil Courts - Law OCR


Civil Courts- AS Law OCR

Need to know:

·         The Woolf Reforms

·         The Trial Courts

·         The 3 Tracks

·         Making a Civil Claim

·         Appeals

·         Advantages & Disadvantages

A civil dispute can be dealt with by the courts but there are alternative ways to solve a dispute which do not require the expense and delays incurred by a civil case through Alternative Dispute Resolution.

A formal civil court case is known as LITIGATION. Civil disputes involve all sorts of civil law such as wills, company law, contract, negligence, divorce etc.

A civil case is a dispute between individuals. The claimant makes a claim against the defendant. The claimant must find the defendant liable on a ‘balance of all probabilities’. This is the standard of proof in a civil case. The burden of proof is on the claimant to find the defendant liable. If found liable the defendant must put the claimant back in the position they were before the case. The winner of the case will usually be awarded compensation.

The Woolf Reforms:

The Civil Procedure Rules 1999:

1.     Greater promotion of alternative dispute resolution.

2.     Pre action protocol that encourages the exchange of documents and evidence before the trial.

3.     Judges are to be much more involved in the case management. Strict timetabling of cases to reduce delays and setting time limits. Better idea for parties on the cost of the trial.

4.     Shared civil procedure Rules between the County Court and the High Court.

5.     The Three Track System.

Jurisdiction of the County Court:

The County Court is the local court that has the power to hear almost all civil court cases. The max claim is restricted to cases worth less than £50,000 but the County Court can hear cases worth more if the parties agree to a County Court trial.

Many cases never make it to trial because the parties settle the dispute before the case is heard. Depending on the value of the case, trials are heard by either Circuit or District judges. Part-time judges called Recorders also hear cases at the County Court.

The County Court can hear civil cases involving contract, tort, land disputes, wills (up to £30,000) and family cases. The county court does not however, have the power to hear divorce cases (unless the divorce is agreed- Uncontested) and defamation cases must be heard at the High Court.

On rare occasion the County Court may use a jury of 8 people to decide a verdict on a case.

Jurisdiction of the High Court:

The high court hear the more serious cases (usually £50,000 plus). These cases can be heard in the High Court Ordinary or they will be allocated to three divisions in the specialist courts.

The three divisions are:

Family Division: Headed by the President they hear cases involving child welfare under the Children Act 1989. Matrimonial cases such as


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