Appellate Courts These are the courts which hear appeals from lower courts. The main appellate courts are the Divisional Courts, the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords.
Divisional Courts The most important of the Divisional Courts is the Queen’s Bench Divisional Court. This has two main functions: It hears appeals by way of case stated from criminal cases decided in the Magistrates Court. It has supervisory powers over inferior courts and tribunals and also over the actions and decisions of public bodies and Government Ministers. This is known as “judicial review”
Divisional Courts Chancery Divisional Court This deals with only a small number of appeals, mainly from decisions made by Tax Commissioners on the payment of tax and appeals from decisions of the County Court in bankruptcy cases.
Divisional Courts Family Divisional Court The main function of this court is to hear appeals from the decisions of the magistrates regarding family matters and order affecting children.
Court of Appeal The Court of Appeal was set up by the Judicature Act 1873 and was initially intended to be the final court of appeal. The House of Lords was reinstated as the final court of appeal by the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876.
Court of Appeal The Court of Appeal has 2 divisions: Criminal and Civil. There are 37 Lord Justices of Appeal and each division is presided over by its own head. The Civil Division is the main appellate court for civil cases and it is headed by the Master of the Rolls.
Court of Appeal The Court of Appeal (Civil Division) mainly hears appeals from the following courts:
All three divisions of the High Court
The County Court for multi-track cases
The Immigration Appeal Tribunal
Some tribunals, especially the Lands Tribunal
Court of Appeal Permission to appeal is required in most cases. It can be granted by the lower court where the decision was made or by the Court of Appeal. It will only be granted if the court believes it has a real prospect of success or there is a compelling reason it should be heard. Permission is not needed where liberty is at stake, i.e. A prison sentence has been given
The House of Lords This was the final appeal court in the English Legal System, until the Supreme Court came into being. The following slides are what used to happen – you still need to know this. It hears directly from the Court of Appeal, Divisional Courts and, on rare occasions, direct from the High Court under what are called the “leapfrog” provisions. Appeals are heard by the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (the Law Lords), usually by a panel of 5, but sometimes 7. (see Pepper v Hart (1993))
The House of Lords Permission to appeal is needed from the Court of Appeal of the Divisional Courts. Under the Administration of Justice (Appeals) Act 1934 this leave can be given by either the House of Lords or the lower court. Statistics in 2005 show that out of 255 cases leave to appeal to the House of Lords was given in only 79.
The House of Lords In leapfrog cases from the High Court, under the Administration of Justice Act 1969, the House of Lords must give permission and the trial judge must also grant a certificate of satisfaction. This will only be done if the case involves a point of law of general public importance – either involving the interpretation of a statute or is one where the trial judge is bound by a previous decision of the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court The role of this court is the same as the House of Lords
Appeal routes in Civil Cases
Appeals from County Court This is set out in Part 52 of the Civil Procedure Rules. This means that generally:
for fast track cases dealt with by a District Judge the appeal is heard by a Circuit judge
for fast track cases dealt with by a Circuit judge the appeal is heard by a High Court judge
for final decisions in multi-track cases heard in the County Court the right of appeal is to the Court of Appeal.
Appeals from County Court In October 2000 appeals against decisions in small claims cases became possible. This right of appeal was introduced in order to comply with Article 6.
Appeals from High Court From a decision in the High Court the appeal usually goes to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) In rare cases there may be a leapfrog appeal direct to the House of Lords. Leapfrog Appeal
Activities Research on the internet how the Supreme Court has taken over from the House of Lords, include details of how this has changed the appeals system. Research a case which is currently waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court. Make notes on this. Answer the following exam question: Ned Flanders was seriously injured at Springfield bowling alley. A shelf collapsed, causing a heavy bowling ball to fall onto his foot and crush several bones. He wishes to sue the bowling alley. With reference to Ned’s situation, explain the track system and how cases are allocated to different courts in civil cases. Consider the extent to which the Woolf Reforms have improved the civil justice system.