This section provides you with a brief overview of the courts in England and Wales.
Organisation of justice – judicial systems
The UK has three jurisdictions: England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. This page discusses the courts in the England and Wales jurisdiction.
Administration of the courts
Responsibility for the administration of many of the courts in England and Wales lies with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). HMCTS is an agency of the Ministry of Justice, the government department with responsibility for the justice system in England and Wales.
Types and hierarchy of courts – short description
Criminal cases in England and Wales are heard in the magistrates' courts, the Crown Court, criminal division of the Court of Appeal.
Civil cases in England and Wales are mainly heard in the county courts, the High Court and the civil division of the Court of Appeal, with Magistrates’ courts having jurisdiction for a range of applications made under various pieces of legislation.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom for both criminal and civil cases, although Scottish criminal cases do not have the right of appeal to the Supreme Court.
Other courts with jurisdiction in England and Wales include the European Court of Human Rights whose functions to uphold the European Convention of Human Rights as it relates to national law. In addition the Court of Justice of the European Union can make rulings on the Application of European Union Law, which by virtue of the European Communities Act are binding on England and Wales.
More detailed information about courts in England and Wales can be found on the page describing ordinary courts in England and Wales and on the website of Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service. Information about some of the tribunals and specialised courts in England and Wales can be found on the page describing specialised courts in England and Wales.
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Last update: 12/12/2016