HomeUK RulesLegal Rights and Legislation › Courts and Sentencing
Courts, Sentencing, Tribunals

This overview section lists the topics of the legal profession and the different circumstances for going to court in England and Wales. You will find guidance and information on key subjects relating to the courts, sentencing, appeals, and tribunals.

The Courts: There is specialist information about attending courts and paying fines. Find out the procedure for appealing a sentence, jury service, and tribunals.

Crown Court

The Crown Court is a single entity sitting in court centres across England and Wales. Crown Courts deal with the most serious of criminal cases.

County Court

County Courts deal with civil cases or non-criminal matters. As a rule it is a County Court that handles cases for individuals or businesses that have had their rights infringed.

Family Law Courts

There are different types of Family Court. They handle parental disputes and local authority intervention for child protection.

Family Law Courts also deal with decrees relating to divorce. They handle adoption cases and financial support for children after divorce. Some aspects of domestic violence will also get heard in a Family Law Court.

Magistrates’ Court

As a rule all criminal court cases start in a magistrates’ court. More than 90% of affairs will get completed therein.

The most serious of criminal offences get passed on to the Crown Court. A guilty defendant will get sentenced in a magistrates’ court or they will go for full trial with a judge and jury.

UK Courts System Help Guide

Antisocial Behaviour Punishment

Anti Social Activities

The guide explains why and how you can get punishment for antisocial behaviour. Check what happens if you breach the rules or get a Drink Banning Order (DBO).

Charged with a Crime

What is going to happen after being charged with a crime? The section explains the police procedure if you get charged with a crime in the United Kingdom.

Community Sentences

A court judge can choose to hand out a community sentence instead of a custodial one. Check the rules of community sentences and how Community Payback works.

Appeal a Sentence or Conviction

Appeal a Crown Court Verdict

In some cases you can appeal a verdict by a Crown Court in United Kingdom. The guide explains how to appeal a criminal conviction or sentence.

Appeal a Magistrates’ Court Verdict

In some cases you can appeal a verdict by a Magistrates’ Court in the United Kingdom. The page explains how to appeal a criminal conviction or sentence.

How to Get a Sentence Reviewed

You can ask a Crown Court to review an unduly lenient sentence in England and Wales. Check the process to follow if you think someone’s sentence is too low.

Note: Anyone with the court’s permission can apply for a transcript of a court or tribunal hearing. Find out which application forms to use, the costs involved, and how to make a complaint.

Court Funds Office

The Court Funds Office functions as the banking service for the courts in England and Wales. It accounts for money paid into and out of court and looks after any investments made with it.

Criminal Courts

Court Status

You can view a list of Crown Court cases and hearings each day on the daily court status. The facility at ‘www.justice.gov.uk/courts/xhibit’ allows you to check progress on the court lists.

Types of Courts

Find out which crimes different criminal courts deal with and the different levels of sentences they can give out in the United Kingdom.

Going to Court

Drugs Penalties

The illegal drugs penalties in the United Kingdom are severe. Taking, carrying, making, or selling drugs or psychoactive substances (e.g. laughing gas) can result in a fine or a prison sentence.

Emergency Orders

You can make an urgent or an emergency application to the Court of Protection. Doing so would grant you permission to make decisions for someone who lacks mental capacity.

Giving Evidence

You have rights while testifying in court as a victim or witness and while giving evidence. Find out how to prepare, what to expect, and what support you can get.

Protection Orders

Do you have concerns about someone’s personal welfare or property? You can apply for a one-off decision from the Court of Protection in the United Kingdom.

Representing Yourself in Court

You have the legal right to speak for yourself and to represent yourself in a court of law. The UK judicial system does not force you to hire the services of a legal professional (e.g. a solicitor).

Security Procedures and Restrictions

You will find enhanced security procedures when entering a courthouse or a tribunal building. Review the strict rules and restrictions placed on the items you can take into the premises.

Using an Interpreter

People with language barriers can get an interpreter at a court or a tribunal. Find out how to ask for an interpreter and when a friend or family member can be your translator.

Note: Video Conferencing in courtrooms allows people to involve themselves in court proceedings from a remote location. A witness may then give their evidence via a video link to the court with a screen and a camera inside the courtroom.

Jury Service Responsibilities

As a rule, doing jury service is a compulsory role if you get called to sit in a trial as a juror in the United Kingdom. But, in some cases you can delay, or be excused from, doing your jury duty.

Note: There may be certain situations where you need to understand what being in ‘contempt of court’ means and who can be ‘held in contempt’ in the United Kingdom.

Legal Aid or Legal Adviser

Civil Legal Advice

CLA is part of legal aid in England and in Wales. Check to see if you qualify for free and confidential advice from Civil Legal Advice.

Disputing Legal Fees

You can challenge your solicitor’s bill if you think the legal fees are too high. But, there is a set process to follow when disputing charges made by a solicitor and legal fees.

Get Help with Court Fees

Check how to apply for help with court fees or get help towards the cost of a tribunal. Those who qualify may not have to pay any fee at all or get a reduction on the costs.

Legal Advisers

You can search online by name or postcode to find a legal adviser or solicitor in your area. For example the ‘Law Society’ lists legal advisers in England or Wales.

Legal Aid UK

Check to see if you can get legal aid to help pay for legal advice or for representation in court. The section explains the eligibility criteria and what you could get.

Unclaimed Funds

The Court Funds Office holds onto certain funds until it can get paid to the rightful owner. Check out how to find and claim money held in a court account.

Litigation Friends

A litigation friend can make decisions about a court case on behalf of someone else. The other person can be a child or an adult who lacks the mental capacity to manage their own court case.

Note: Deputies can also make decisions for people who lack mental capacity. The section explains how to become a deputy and function with Court of Protection authorisation.

Miscarriage of Justice

A miscarriage of justice is the law court conviction and punishment of an innocent person for a crime they did not commit. Find out how to make a claim for compensation if your conviction got overturned.

Note: There is a set process for filing a judicial complaint in the United Kingdom. Find out how to complain about a judge, a magistrate, a coroner, or a tribunal member.

Power of Attorney

Making a Decision for Someone

You can make decisions on behalf of someone if the person appoints you. Find out how to make decisions for others and how to check if a person has mental capacity.

Power of Attorney Explained

Anyone with mental capacity can grant a power of attorney. So, what is power of attorney and how does the authorisation work in legal and financial matters.

Tribunals and Appeals

Appealing an EAT Decision

There are several reasons why you might appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Check the grounds of appeal if you feel there was a legal problem or a mistake.

Court Finder Facility

Get information on courts in England and Wales using the government online court and tribunal finder facility. Some non-devolved tribunals in Scotland and Northern Ireland are also listed on the search tool.

Employment Tribunals

Tribunals are part of the courts system. The court conducts an employment tribunal and a hearing to deal with workplace disputes made by employees.

Mental Health Tribunals

You can apply to the Mental Health Tribunal to get someone discharged. Check out how to appeal, what happens at a mental health tribunal hearing, and what to do if you lose the case.

Note: Check which court or tribunal to appeal to if there was a mistake interpreting the law, or they failed to follow the proper procedure.

Courts, Tribunals, and Sentencing Guide for United Kingdom