The English Legal System has four main civil courts that hold civil jurisdiction; the County Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords. There are other smaller civil courts that have some jurisdiction for example the magistrate’s court and the European Court of Justice which sets precedent for all the courts. However, the magistrate’s court has a very small amount of civil jurisdiction. They are the ones responsible for granting licenses to pubs or other outlets. They have jurisdiction over domestic matters like adoption or matrimonial matters. The magistrate usually goes for some training so that they can handle these cases. The appeals are usually taken to the high Court, family division. Magistrate’s court deals with criminal and civil cases. The cases are dealt with by District Judges who receive some payment or justices of peace who are not qualified (Taylor 1999). The magistrate court deals with limited number of civil case.
The county court usually deals with civil cases dealt with a judge. Any case can be started in any county court. It may also be transferred to the defendant’s local court. All claims from regulated credit agreements are to be started in the county court. The county court deals with a number of cases. Examples include; landlord tenant issues, consumer disputes, personal injury claims (injuries caused due to negligence). Ned Flanders can sue the college from this court. It also deals with undefended divorce cases and proceedings aimed at ending registered civil partnerships. It deals with employment problems, debt problems, discrimination cases, domestic violence cases, and race, sex and disability discrimination cases (Keane 2008).
A case, if defended, is dealt in one of the following three ways the court has to decide the procedure to be applied and then allocate it to the corresponding track. The tracks include: the small claims track, the fast track and the multi-track. The small claims track is for claims with a value of 5,000 pounds or less. Ned’s case can apply the small claims track since it is of less value. The procedure here is simpler than in the other tracks. In most cases the losing party doesn’t have to pay the cost of the other party.
The crown court deals with cases that are serious criminal offenses which are tried by a jury and a judge. It receives appeals from the magistrate’s court which are then dealt with by a judge and not less than two magistrates. It also deals with convictions in the magistrates’ court being referred to the crown court for sentencing. Its fines and imprisonment are more severe than those in the magistrates’ court. The high court on the other hand deals with civil cases and has the power to review the actions of entities to make sure they acted legally and justly. The high court comprises of three divisions.
The first is the family division which deals with defended divorce cases that are complex in nature, dissolution of civil partnerships, domestic violence and many more. It also deals with appeals from the county and magistrates courts. Secondly is the Queens Bench Division which deals with large and complex claims for compensation. It deals with limited number of appeals from the Crown Courts and Magistrates. Thirdly, the Chancery Division deals with trusts, contested revenues, mortgages and many more others.
The court of appeal is purposed to deals with civil and criminal appeals. Those dealt with are civil appeals from the High Court, county court, Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Lands Tribunal. The House of Lords deals with appeals from the Court of Appeal, from the High Court, where the cases involve general public importance. Most of the appeals are usually about civil cases. The UK Supreme Court deals with civil and criminal appeals. The appeals are usually from the Court of Appeal or the High Court. The cases involve a point of law or of general public importance. The European Court of Human Rights deals with cases in which a person thinks their human rights have been denied and for which there is no legal remedy within the national legal system.
There has been an impact of the Woolf reforms. The reforms were to encourage early settlement of disputes through the use of pre action protocols, active case management by the courts, and cost penalties for those who refuse to attempt negotiation or consider ADR. The reforms are working. Pre action protocols are actually promoting settlement before any application to the court. Most cases are beginning to be settled earlier. This has led to actually fewer cases being settled in court. Most of the cases are being settled without a hearing. Pre action protocols have influenced pre issue dispute resolution. This means that more cases are actually being resolved before an application is made to court. On the other hand, cases that are not settled early enough are moving through court procedures at a faster rate. Mediation is being promoted by the government to serve as an alternative to court (Sime 2008).
The Civil Procedure Rules states that civil claims less than five thousand pounds are to be dealt with in the County Court under the Small Claims Track. Claims that are between 5000 and 25000 pounds and can be tried within a day are allocated to the fast track. Claims that are over 25000 pounds are referred to the Multi Track.
As for Personal Injuries (like that for Ned), defamation and some landlord and tenant disputes, the thresholds for each track has different values. The existing rules have been replaced have now been replaced by a set of Civil Procedure Rules (Sime 2008). The rules give statutory effect to the reforms, this means they are binding on the courts and the parties to civil actions. There aim is to deal with cases justly.
The Civil Procedure Rules are of civil procedures that are used by the Court of Appeal, High Court of Justice and County Courts in several civil cases. It was meant to improve access to justice. It makes legal proceedings cheap, quick and easy to understand to those individuals who are not lawyers.