History of English Court System

History of English Court System in United Kingdom

Early History of the English Court System

The process of separation of judicial from executive and legislative governmental powers continued during the reign of Edward I with the establishment of the Court of Exchequer as a tribunal having exclusive jurisdiction over revenue cases. See more here.

Later Developments in the British System

Administrative and structural changes in important but secondary features, such as those wrought by the Judicature Act of 1873, have been made.

This act, which went into effect in 1875, preserved the role of the House of Lords as the chief appellate tribunal of England and Wales and consolidated, at that time, all the superior civil courts into a Supreme Court of Judicature with two principal branches:

  • the Court of Appeal, the highest appellate court below the House of Lords, and
  • the High Court of Justice.

The latter tribunal comprised three divisions:

  • Chancery Division;
  • King’s, or Queen’s, Bench Division; and
  • Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division.

Enactment of the Criminal Appeal Act of 1907 established the Court of Criminal Appeal as the highest appellate tribunal after the House of Lords in criminal cases. Besides the superior courts, the judicial system of England and Wales includes many lower courts organized into circuits.

The highest civil court of Scotland is the Court of Session, and the highest criminal court is the High Court of Justiciary. Appeals may be taken from these courts to the House of Lords.

Earl’s Court (London)

This is a District of London, taking its name from the court held here in the middle ages by the earls of Warwick and Holland, who were lords of the manor.

More Entries about Courts

Early Courts

See Early Courts.

Western European Tribunals

See Western European Tribunals

Later Developments in the British System

See English Court System

Court System in the United States

See Court System in the United States and Court System in that country.

Other World Developments

For France, Islamic world and other Middle Eastern and Asian countries, see Courts in General

See Also

MPEPIL: International courts and tribunals
Unconstitutional Constitutional Courts
List of United Kingdom Court Reports
List of Courts
List of Irish Courts
Appointment of Judges
English Legal System Milestone Cases

Contributed By:

William O. Douglas, M.A., LL.B., LL.D. Late Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. “Courts,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia



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