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    Friday, 21 November 2014

    British Judicial structure and its Jurisdiction

    Prerogative and administration of Justice
    The administration of justice is one of the prerogatives of the Crown, but it is a prerogative that has long been exercisable only through duly appointed courts and judges. The various courts and their jurisdictions are now almost entirely on a statutory premise. The Sovereign is "the wellspring of equity" and general conservative of the Peace.

    Important features
    Some of the more important features, all of which are possessed by the courts or the tribunals are that;

    Ø  The tribunal is established by the State, as opposed, for example, to an arbitral tribunal established by the parties.
    Ø  It usually decides a dispute between two parties.
    Ø  Its decision is on the basis of evidence given to it by the parties.
    Ø  The hearing of a dispute takes place in public unless of national security or public decency.
    Ø  Its choice is on the premise of law and lawful rights.
    Ø  Its decision is final, subject only to an appeal to higher court.
    Ø  There is no uniformity, in the judicial establishment to United Kingdom, as different series of courts exist.
    Ø  Distinct Court system to try civil and criminal cases, exist in United Kingdom as the same courts hear both types of cases.
    Ø  The jurisdiction of English Courts has been confined to the application of basic laws, they do not have, unlike American courts, the power of Judicial Review.
    Ø  English judicial system was not uniform nor coherent in the past, ordinary courts and tribunals all worked independent of each other.
    Ø  No ministry has been assigned the function of supervision of the judicial set-up; it is performed by the Home Secretary and Lord Chancellor.

    The Judicature
    Since the Judicature Act of 1873 the superior English courts have formed part of one Supreme Court of Judicature which is divided into a business, is divided  into three divisions but each judge of each division possesses unlimited jurisdiction. Two judges of specific division may sit together in a Divisional Court which has powers not possessed by a single High Court Judge. The Divisional Court through its supervisory jurisdiction plays a particularly important role in the field of constitutional and administrative law.

    The Court Act 1971 which reformed the administration of criminal justice created the Crown Court which also forms part of the Supreme Court. Country Courts were created by statute in the midnineteenth  century to provide a cheaper and more expeditious trail of civil matter, falling within certain limits, than could the superior courts of law sitting at Westminster.

    A standout amongst the most amazing features of the English system of the administration of justice is the large part played by laymen, either as lay magistrates or as jurymen.

    Civil litigation
    The right of access to the courts is in itself an important constitutional right, and for that reason, the courts have been unwilling, for example, to accept that Parliament meant to authorize a Minister to remove the right of access by delegated legislation. Anyone may commence a civil actions, subject to the risk of losing money if he is unsuccessful.

    County Courts
    Country Courts hear all civil suits involving an amount of less than two hundred pounds. In addition, all controversies between the landowners and tenants or relating to rent can be settled in country courts irrespective of the amount involved.

    High Court of Justice
    The seat of this court is in London and it ahs original jurisdiction over all complicated civil suits. High court of Justice has three distinct divisions

    Ø  Royal Bench Division
    Ø  Chancery Division and
    Ø  Probate, Divorce and Maritime Division. Every division has specific jurisdiction and hears appeals against the decisions of the respective Country Court.

    Court of Appeal
    Court of Appeal and High Court of Justice, both are in fact, two parts of the same court viz., both jointly constitute Supreme Court of Judicature. Hence court of Appeal is, in fact, the second component of Supreme Court of Judicature.

    Criminal proceedings
    In general, anyone may commence criminal proceedings subject to the risk of paying the costs of an unsuccessful action and, in some cases, of being sued for pernicious arraignment. Certain statutes, on the other hand, oblige the assent of the Attorney-General.

    Conduct of proceedings
    The conduct of proceedings is the responsibility of members of the service designated Crown Prosecutors. Since 1999 the CPC is divided into 42 prosecution areas each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor, within each area there are one or more local branches headed by a branch Crown Prosecutor who is responsible for a team of lawyers and case of workers.

    Criminal Courts
    Criminal procedure involves such stages as making of allegations, production of evidence, reference of laws and announcement of punishment after the guilt has been proved.

    Justice of Peace and Stipendiary Magistrates
    This category of courts stands at the bottom of judicial hierarchy. Justice of Peace are appointed for every county and Borough by the Lord Chancellor on the recommendations of Lord Lieutenant in case of country and Advisory Committees in respect of Borough.

    The Court for Juvenile Offenders
    Judges for the courts attempting all cases including Juvenile offenders, are selected from a panel constituted by County and Borough.

    Crown Courts
    Under Judicature Act of 1971, Crown Courts were established that replaced Circuit courts and Courts of Quarter session.

    The Court of Criminal Appeal
    The court of criminal Appeal has appellate jurisdiction against the decision of crown Courts.

    House of Lords
    House of Lords, in addition, to being a legislative Chamber, is also the last court of appeal.

    Judicial Committee  of the Privy Council
    This committee consists of Lord Chancellor, all former Lord Chancellors, Law-Lords, Lord President of the Council and certain other members. This committee has, in fact, advisory Jurisdiction. Its, opinion carries weight and “Orders in Council” are passed in the light of these recommendations.

    Special Courts
    There exist a number of civil courts for deciding specific cases. These are explained below;

    Coroner’s Courts
    Coroner’s Courts deal with all cases relating to customary laws arising out of unnatural death or death caused by provocation.

    Ecclesiastical Court
    These courts are part of Royal Courts and have specific and exclusive jurisdiction.

    Military Courts
    A distinct series of Military courts have been established to decide all cases of the Military personals involving breach of disciplinary rules.

    Photo credit: www.presstv.ir
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    Item Reviewed: British Judicial structure and its Jurisdiction Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Usman Ali
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