Which courts handle injury claims?
This article attempts to clarify some of the complicated architecture of the English and Welsh court systems, and particularly provides an overview of where the injury claim court fits in.
Broadly, there are five levels to the court system of England and Wales. At the bottom of the system are the Crown and county courts, which deal with the vast majority of important criminal and civil matters that reach the court system. Appeals from the county courts (including personal injury claims) will be sent to the High Court in Holborn, London, which will also deal with the first instance hearings (that is, the first hearing of a case) for very high value civil work.
The Crown/county courts are thus supervised by the High Court, but they also have a supervisory function over some lesser courts, including magistrates courts and various tribunals. Above the level of the High Court is the Court of Appeal, and then above that court sits the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, it should be noted, do not hear trials as such, but will only review points of law decided by lower courts. Together, these courts produce an injury claim court hierarchy that looks like this:
- Supreme Court
- Court of Appeal
- High Court
- County/Crown Court
- Magistrates courts and tribunals
What is precedent in the injury claim court hierarchy?
Injury claim courts are most typically the county courts, although the High Court will sometimes deal with matters where the value of the claim is very high, the legal issues are very complicated, or there are multiple severe injuries. However, that is not to say that the higher courts do not also have a role to play. Due to the English legal doctrine of stare decisis or ‘binding precedent,’ all courts are obligated to decide a point of law in the same manner as an earlier injury claim court of greater seniority has decided on it. Thus, when lawyers are discussing a case in court, they will be repeatedly referring to the decisions made by a higher courts as authority for the legal argument which they are making.
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All of this means that an acute sense of legal history and case law is very important when processing an injury claim court case. For professional legal advice on these issues on a no-win, no-fee basis, just call 0800 689 0500 (landline) or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone, for a no-obligation chat with Accident Advice Helpline today.