Which Court?

The court structures have evolved over at least a thousand years. There are a number of different courts – some for immigration, for employment, for the military and for family cases. Most common are the criminal and civil law courts.

Both criminal and civil cases can begin with magistrates. This an old office from the middle ages, called the Justice of the Peace. Magistrates are part time, have other roles in the local community and sit without a jury, usually with three working together. They are advised on law in the court by an expert.

More serious cases for criminal cases go to the Crown Court and for civil cases the County Court. From there judgments can be appealed to the High Court, then the Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court.

Each court deals with different issues in different ways with different outcomes (either fines, or imprisonment, or both). More confusing still is that sometimes the magistrates, county and crown court are all in the same building, as they are in Bolton.