About courts

Part of the work of HM Courts & Tribunals Service is the administration of the courts in England and Wales. This work provides administration and support for the Magistrates' courts, County Courts, the Crown Court, the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Probate Service.

Staff within the courts work to deliver justice to the public effectively and efficiently.

Magistrates’ Courts

Magistrates' courts are a key part of the criminal justice system and 97% of cases are completed there. In addition magistrates' courts deal with many civil cases e.g. anti-social behaviour, public health and are responsible for the enforcement of fines and community punishments.

Where cases required a penalty greater than magistrates’ sentencing powers, cases will be sent to the Crown Court.

County Courts

The county court, often referred to as the small claims court, deals with civil matters, such as:

  • Claims for debt repayment, including enforcing court orders and return of goods bought on credit,
  • Personal Injury
  • Breach of contract concerning goods or property
  • Family issues such as relationship breakdown or adoption
  • Housing disputes, including mortgage and council rent arrears and re-possession.

County Court Money Claims Centre

The County Court Money Claims Centre (CCMCC) deals with designated money claims providing a critical supporting service to the county courts.

The work done includes issue, entry of judgment, acknowledgements of service, defences and processing completed allocation questionnaires. If at any stage an oral hearing is required the claim will be transferred to a local county court. The CCMCC will also issue warrants of execution on designated money claims where judgment has been entered at the centre.

A dedicated telephone contact team deals with all queries relating to cases issued through the CCMCC up until the point of transfer to a local county court.

Contact the County Court Money Claims Centre

The Crown Court

The Crown Court deals with more serious criminal cases such as murder, rape or robbery, some of which are on appeal or referred from magistrates' courts. Trials are heard by a Judge and a 12 person jury. Members of the public are selected for jury service or may have to go to court as witnesses. Crown Court cases originate from magistrates' courts.

The Crown Court also hears appeals against decisions of magistrate's courts.

The High Court

The High Court deals with higher level civil disputes within three divisions

and deals with other jurisdictions including the Administrative Court.

The High Courts sits at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Court Estate Reform Programme

A schedule of the proposed dates for court closures and information on the transfer of work.

A full consultation on court estate reform took place in 2010. Following this, the Secretary of State decided to close 93 magistrates' courts and 49 county courts. This decision was made using the principles of the national estates strategy and responses to the consultations.

Tranches 1 to 5 of the programme are now complete, with 89 magistrates' and 48 county courts closed. Tranche 6 and 7 will see the remaining sites close by September 2014.

Potential implementation dates (MS Word 0.10Mb)

Parish Changes (MS Excel 0.5Mb)

HM Courts & Tribunals Service

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