25 January, 2007

Appeal Routes in Civil Cases

Filed under: additional reading,Civil Court Structure,dispute solving — legaleasy @ 10:14 am


Today we finished off looking at the Civil Court System by examining the appeals routes available.  The appellate courts are courts which hear appeals from lower courts. The main ones are the Divisional Courts, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords.

Small Claims – appeals from the district judge’s decision are to the Circuit judge of the County Court. An appeal can only be made if the district judge made a mistake in the law or the proceedings were not carried out correctly.

To appeal from the County Court or the High Court to the Court of Appeal requires permission – this is known as leave to appeal. Permission will only be given if the court feels there is a real chance of the appeal being a success. The Court of Appeal will allow appeals if the lower court has made a mistake in the law or the there was an irregularity in the proceedings.

Again an appeal from the Court of Appeal to the House of Lords requires permission. Remember appeals are not retrials and oral evidence is not given. The judges involved will listen to counsel’s arguments and read all the documents in the case.

A “leapfrog” appeal can be made from the High Court to the House of Lords if there is a point of law of general public importance involved and where the Court of Appeal is bound by precedent – remember the exceptions set out in the Bristol Aeroplanes Case.

Any court can refer a question of European Law to the ECJ under Art 234 procedure.

Additional Reading

Please see previous post. Try using the Internet to look up a case in which there has been an appeal to the House of Lords and a case which is waiting to be heard. See 


23 January, 2007

The Civil Court Procedure

Filed under: additional reading,Civil Court Structure,dispute solving — legaleasy @ 1:33 pm


Today we continued with our examination of the Civil Court procedure. We discussed the importance of the Woolf Reforms on Civil Procedure. The Woolf Reforms aimed to make the Civil Procedure quicker, cheaper and simpler. They also introduced the three track system and encouraged  ADR. However, the reforms have been criticised for not going far enough. The Civil Court system is still seen by many as costing too much, taking too long and overly complex. 

Court action should always be the last resort!

We then had a go at filling out the forms that would be used in a court action. By doing this we gained an understanding of why cases are often settled out of court or by ADR.

We looked at briefly the three track system. Cases are allocated to a track by the judge who is managing the case. The track they are allocated to depends on the amount claimed and the complexity of the case.

Additional Reading

This is not an exhaustive list! Try reading a quality newspaper at least once a week and keep up to date with the news – the law is always in the news! 

Emerging Findings: An Early Evaluation of the Civil Justice Reforms (2001)

English Legal System – Elliot & Quinn

English Legal System – Slapper & Kelly

18 January, 2007

Civil Court Structure

Filed under: Civil Court Structure,dispute solving,homework — legaleasy @ 9:49 pm

Today we carried on with our examination of the civil court structure and possible routes of appeal. Homework was set on the Woolf Reforms which gave us our present civil court structure. If you did not receive a copy of the homework, please come and see me. This is due Tuesday 23.01.07. You will be expected to comment on the Woolf Reforms in your exam – this is important!

28 November, 2006

Module 2 – Dispute Solving

Filed under: Civil Court Structure — legaleasy @ 10:53 pm

Today we started looking at the second AS Module of Dispute Solving. We will continue with this new topic for a couple of weeks and then leave it to concentrate on revision for the January exam. For further details of what we will study in this Module please look at the Specification on the AQA Website.

We started off by looking at the different types of civil law case that can arise – concentrating primarily on breach of contract and various torts ( a tort is a legal wrong). We then discussed the various differences between the Civil and Criminal Systems. These can be summarised as follows:

1. The cases are heard in different courts.

2. The person starting the case is given a different name. In civil cases it is the claimant; in criminal cases it is the prosecutor.

3. The verdict is given a different name. In a civil case the defendant is liable or not liable; and in a criminal case the a defendant is found guilty or not guilty.

4. The standard of proof is different. It is much higher in a criminal court (beyond reasonable doubt) than in a civil court (on the balance of probabilities).

We then started to look at the civil procedure in more detail by examining the steps taken at the very beginning of a civil action. 

It is important that before a civil lawsuit is started, all steps possible have been taken to resolve the matter without resorting to court action. This can be done by way of negotiation or bargaining either with or without legal advice.

Taking a matter to court is expensive, even without legal representation. There will be a court fee based on the size and type of claim. Costs may be claimed back from the other party if you win but there is always the risk you will lose the case and have costs awarded against you.

At the beginning of a claim the parties are encouraged to give as much information to each other as possible – in order to prevent the matter going to court. It is important that the parties comply with this requirement as if the matter does go to court then they could be found liable for certain costs.

If the matter does go to court, it is a question of which court to use. This depends on the size of the claim and the complexity of the law involved. The case will go to the County Court if it is for £15,000 or less ( or it is a personal injury claim for less than £50,000). All defamation cases and those for claims in excess of £15,000 will go to the High Court.

In the next lesson we will continue to look at the civil process by having a closer look at some of the forms used in the process.

Additional Reading

Look at  –  look at the different forms and guidance issued to claimants and defendants

Check the Resource Centre –  there are texts on the English Legal System that will cover this topic. Read any relevant chapters.

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