1.1 The court visit and its general role in the English Legal system. The court visited was ‘Uxbridge Magistrates Court and Uxbridge Youth Court’, which is managed by the ministry of justice. The magistrates’ court is one of the courts at the lowest level of court hierarchy. It deals with offences with are regarded as less serious offences. Cases in the magistrates' courts are usually heard by a panel of magistrates (Justices of the Peace). This court must normally be composed of not more than three justices, including, as far as possible, both a man and a woman. The court visited had three court rooms, including the video link court and two summary offences court. The video link court is there to save the transportation cost and to utilise the full time of court proceedings, as the accused can be trailed from the prison through the video link. This saves time as well as the transportation cost of the court. At the video link court the representative of the prosecution was on the left and the defence was on the right side. The trial is before a bench of magistrates, supported by a legally qualified Court Clerk. Also a district judge can be present at the magistrates’ court. Magistrates are usually lay people and come from all walks of life and do not usually have a legal qualification. However, they have to go through training supervised by the Judicial Studies Board. The two other summary court rooms visited held trial for first time offenders. The magistrates’ courts fall under both civil division and criminal division. Civil division magistrates courts deals with family proceedings, known as 'family proceedings court'. The court also deals with adoption proceedings, applications for residence and maintenance relating to spouses and children. It also deals with enforcing Council Tax demands and issuing rights of entry warrants for gas and electricity authorities. On the other hand, criminal division includes, two kind of offences, summary and tribal either way offences. The maximum sentencing that magistrates can impose is £5000 and/or a 12-month prison sentence. It also includes Youth court. Defendants under 18 years of age will normally be tried by a youth court, no matter what the offence. There are special provisions for the punishment of this age group. Depending on the magnitude of an offence, the magistrates can either hear the case in the magistrate court or if the crime is more serious, than it can be heard in the crown court.
1.2 How is the court funded?
The justice system in England and Wales has traditionally suffered from lack of adequate and balanced funding. The civil and family courts in England and Wales are self-financing and are mostly funded by court fees paid by those people using court services. The general cost of civil and family courts is expected to be very high, presumably around £600 million per year of which all most 80 per cent is funded by court fees. The other 20 per cent is collected by the general tax payers, which is given by Ministry of Justice. There are two major elements of taxpayer’s contribution
* the system of fee remissions
* Fees which is set below the full cost level.
The court fee is charged to cover the full cost of court proceedings. Lower targets can also be agreed where there are reasonable justifications. Court fees are not there to put financial burden on the public. The policy of full-cost recovery ensures that as far as possible users pay for the service they receive, to ensure that the system is fair to the taxpayer. The advantage of fee remission scheme is that it’s been used for those people who are not financially very well off. To protect the justice system and to make it approachable for the general public, the taxpayer’s makes, and will continue to make, a significant contribution to the cost of running the civil and family courts. The courts are also funded by...
Bibliography: Newspaper articles
‘Supreme Court independence 'at threat ' over funding’ The Telegraph (London, 9th Feb 2011) <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8312928/Supreme-Court-independence-at-threat-over-funding.html> accessed 20 July 2013
‘Why we charge court fees’ (HM Courts & Tribunals Service, 20 March 2011) <http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/fees/why-we-charge> accessed 20 July 2013
[ 1 ]. accessed 21 July 2013
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