Understanding the Courts System


The courts system in the UK is not unified. England and Wales have one system, with Scotland and Northern Ireland having separate systems of their own. The courts system across the entire UK deals with both criminal and civil cases.

The criminal courts system is in place to uphold all the laws that have been enacted by Parliament. The 'rule of law' is policed by the criminal courts system. Anyone breaking a law can be prosecuted through this. Anyone accused of a crime is presumed innocent until enough evidence is brought before the court to prove the person is guilty 'beyond reasonable doubt'.

The other part of the courts system deals with civil law. Most of the civil cases that come before the courts are for unpaid debts. If the money can't be obtained by any other means, the civil courts system is used to sue the party that owes the money.

Unlike the criminal court where someone can be found guilty if the evidence shows they are guilty beyond reasonable doubt, in the civil courts system a balance of probabilities is used. If the probability that the defendant is guilty is more than 50 per cent, the defendant is liable and they will be found guilty.

The judicial system in Scotland is slightly different than the courts system across England and Wales. The Scottish Executive Justice Department, under the Minister for Justice, operates the criminal and civil courts system in Scotland. You can read more about the Scottish legal system at www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice.

The criminal and civil courts system in Northern Ireland is similar to that in England and Wales. The Lord Chancellor is responsible for the courts system. You can learn more about the courts system in Northern Ireland at www.courtsni.gov.uk.

If you would like to obtain legal advice about the court system, Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist solicitor free of charge.  So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

08001 221 2299
or fill in the form
Our trained advisor contacts you
Your chosen specialist solicitor calls you
Quick enquiry form
Brands we work with
Guardian Unlimited logoTelegraph.co.uk logo
Guardian Unlimited logoThis is money.co.uk logo