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Civil Courts and Other Forms of Dispute Resolution

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1 Civil Courts and Other Forms of Dispute Resolution
Civil Courts and Appeal System

2 Lesson Objectives You will be able to draw a diagram of the civil court structure showing appeal routes I will be able to state the jurisdiction of each court I will be able to describe the appeal process

3 Courts of First Instance
Civil disputes are, generally, between individuals, partnerships, companies and/or local or national Government departments. Any or all of the above may disagree about, for example, a contract, a negligence claim or a landlord and tenant relationship. Further, local or national Government departments may be the subject of a claim for judicial review.

4 The dispute is between the claimant and the defendant
The dispute is between the claimant and the defendant. The claimant issues proceedings in a civil court by giving to the court a description of the claim on a set form, together with the court fee. This claim is then sent to the defendant for a response, usually in the form of a defence to the claim.

5 There are two main civil courts in which civil claims may be issued: the County Court and the High Court. The Magistrates’ Court is primarily a criminal court, but does have some civil jurisdiction. These courts are known as courts of first instance, as claims may be commenced and decided there. If the decision of the court is disputed, then a party may be able to ask a higher court to reconsider the case – known as an appeal

6 Minor civil courts at first instance
County courts 230 county courts In most major towns Main areas of jurisdiction: Small claims – less than £5000 All contract and tort claims All cases for recovery of land Disputes over partnerships, trusts and inheritance up to £30000 Cases are heard by circuit judge or district judge Very rarely there is a jury of eight, and only for: Defamation (libel and slander) cases Malicious prosecution cases False imprisonment cases Magistrates’ courts’ civil jurisdiction Over 400 courts Enforcing council tax demands, debts to utilities, non-payment of TV licences, issuing warrants of entry and investigation to gas and electricity authorities Family cases, including orders for protection against violence and maintenance orders (NB not divorces at a magistrates’ court) Proceedings re the welfare of children (Children Act 1989) Appeals against the refusal of licence to sell alcohol and betting and gaming licences Cases are heard either by lay justices or by a district judge (Magistrates’ court)

7 The civil courts and appeals system
Topic 7 The courts system: civil courts The civil courts and appeals system House of Lords Court of Appeal High Court County Court Magistrates court (some cases)

8 Magistrates’ Court Topic 7 The courts system: civil courts
The Magistrates’ Court deals mainly with criminal cases, yet it has some civil jurisdiction over family matters. The Magistrates’ Court can approve care orders and adoption orders for children and make provisions for the break-up of a marriage (it cannot, however, grant a divorce). It can deal with the recovery of unpaid council tax and charges for water, gas and electricity. It can also hear appeals from the local authority about whether to grant licenses for gambling or the sale of alcohol.

9 County Court Topic 7 The courts system: civil courts
County Courts hear the majority of civil cases. They are local courts and there are approximately 300 around the country. They deal with most divorce cases and cases that are worth less than £15,000 (less than £50,000 for personal injury cases). Less than £5,000 – transferred to small claims track and heard by District Judges Between £5,000-15,000 – transferred to the fast track and are generally heard by a Circuit Judge Over £15,000 – transferred to the multi-track and may be heard by Circuit Judge or transferred to the High Court if case concerns professional negligence and/or there is a complicated point of law

10 Appeal routes from county courts
House of Lords Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Important point of principle / practice or other compelling reason Circuit judge - County Court - High Court judge Case heard by District judge Case heard by Circuit judge - County Court -small claims and fast track County Court multi-track

11 High Court Topic 7 The courts system: civil courts
The High Court is a court of first instance for trials involving specific areas of law or claims over £15,000 (£50,000 for personal injury claims). It has three divisions: Queen’s Bench Division Chancery Division Family division The High Court is also an appeal court, hearing appeals from the County Court, tribunals and the Magistrates’ Court (Family Court).

12 Queen’s bench Division – This is the main court and deals primarily with contract and tort cases. The cases are often heard in the Royal Courts of Justice, in The Strand, London, but may be heard in one of the High Court’s District Registries. Family Division – This court deals will all aspects of family matters, including divorce, related children and financial claims, adoption and care proceedings Chancery Division – Historically related to equity. The modern version deals with partnership disputes, company law, disputes about wills or trusts, bankruptcy, sale of land and the creation of mortgages

13 Superior civil courts of first instance High Court: three divisions
Queen’s Bench Division 72 High Court judges Contract and tort over £50000; also £15000+ Single judge Occasionally jury (12) for: fraud libel and slander malicious prosecution false imprisonment Chancery Division 17 High Court judges Main business includes: Insolvency and bankruptcy, including the Companies Court mortgages trust property disputes copyright and patents intellectual property contested probate Single judge High Court: three divisions Family Division 18 High Court judges Wardship cases and all cases under the Children Act Other family matters such as declarations for nullity Probate is granted in non-disputed cases Single judge only

14 Appeal Hearings An appeal is when a party to a civil case is dissatisfied with the court’s decision and requests a higher court to review the earlier decision. Following the Access to Justice Act 1999, the majority of appeals will only be allowed to proceed if either the original court or the appeal court has given such authorisation. Permission is only granted if it involves a matter of great importance or the appeal has a good chance of success.

15 The 1999 Act, will, generally, only allow one level of appeal
The 1999 Act, will, generally, only allow one level of appeal. The only exception to this rule is if the appeal raises a point of great legal and procedural importance.

16 The High Court as an Appeal Court
The High Court is both a court of first instance and an appeal court. Queen’s Bench Divisional Court: This court has appellate jurisdiction in respect of judicial review. This court may also hear appeals on a point of law by way of case stated from a Magistrates’ Court, Crown Court or tribunal. Family Divisional Court: This court hears appeals from the decisions of Magistrates’ Courts, and County Courts in respect of family-related matters Chancery Divisional Court: This court hears appeals on decisions made in bankruptcy and insolvency cases originally decided in the County Court

17 Court of Appeal Topic 7 The courts system: civil courts
The Court of Appeal hears appeals from both the County Court and the High Court regarding any civil matter and the Employment Appeal Tribunal. It deals with appeals about the facts of the case and points of law raised in the case. There are approximately 35 judges known as Lord Justices of Appeal, and the most senior is known as the Master of the Rolls.

18 Appeals are generally heard by 3-5 judges although can be 2 if parties agree.
In the majority of cases leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal is required. The appeal is not a rehearing of the case, but a review of it – saves cost The barristers in the Court of Appeal must provide, in advance, written and concise statements of their arguments to the court and the opposing barrister – skeleton arguments The CoA my reverse, vary or confirm a decision – Goodwill v British Pregnancy Advisory Service

19 House of Lords Topic 7 The courts system: civil courts
The House of Lords is the highest appeal court in England and Wales. Cases concerning European Union law may be referred to the European Court of Justice for a decision (Article 234 referral). The House of Lords only hears appeals with leave (permission granted by the Court of Appeal or the House of Lords) on a point of law of general public importance. A leap-frog appeal may be made from the High Court to the House of Lords if the Court of Appeal is already bound by one of its previous decisions.

20 12 judges – Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (Law Lords)
200 cases a year, majority are civil Matters of general public importance (Donoghue v Stevenson, British Railways Board v Herrington) Most appeals heard by 3-5 Law Lords Leave to appeal must be obtained from original court or from HoL itself Majority of appeals are from civil division of CoA Leap-frog procedure is provided by the Administration of Justice Act 1969 High Court judge must see it as suitable and HoL agrees, and the case must be on a point of law and one: Of public importance in relation to the statutory interpretation of an Act of Parliament or a piece of delegated legislation When the trial judge is bound by precedent of the Court of Appeal or HoL

21 Appeal routes from the High Court
House of Lords Leave to appeal from CA or HL leapfrog appeal: Administration of Justice Act point of law of public importance, re either statutory interpretation or binding precedent in CA which High Court must follow Court of Appeal (Civil Division) High Court NB Appeals can be made to ECJ from any English court (Article 177 of the Treaty of Rome): there is no need to “go through the system”

22 Conclusion from book

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