The structure of the court system in Britain is many-layered and almost incomprehensible. There is no comprehensive law regulating the organization and competence of the courts. The court system in Scotland and also in Northern Ireland differs some what from that of England and Wales. There is no written constitution, hence no constitutional court in Great Britain. Parliament is sovereign. So, the courts cannot question the authority of the constitutional validity of the statutes; they can only interpret them.

The courts in Great Britain are divided into two large groups: criminal courts and civil courts. Besides, there are many special tribunals, for example, industrial tribunals dealing with labor disputes and industrial injury compensation.

Criminal courts are Magistrates' Courts and Crown Courts. Magistrates' Courts are the courts of first instance. Cases involving minor offences begin and end there. Cases involving more serious offences normally start in Magistrates' Courts before being referred to higher courts — Crown Courts — for trial. Crown Courts have existed only since 1972. They try serious cases such as murder, rape, arson, armed robbery, fraud, and so on.

Civil courts include county courts as the courts of first instance, and the High Court as a higher court.

The High Court of Justice consists of three separate subdivisions: the Queen's Bench Division, the Chancery Division and the Family Division.

Appeals against decisions of the High Court and the Crown Court may be taken to the Court of Appeal with its Criminal and Civil divisions. The Crown Court, the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal form the Supreme Court of Judicature.

The highest court in the country is the House of Lords. It is the biggest court of appeal in civil matters for the whole of the United Kingdom and the final court of appeal in criminal cases. The President of the House of Lords as a court is the Lord Chancellor.

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