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High Court explained

high courtWhat is the High Court? And what kind of cases are handled there? Read on to find out.

Despite its name, the High Court is the third-highest court in the country. It deals with civil cases and appeals made against decisions in the lower courts.

The high court is divided into three parts, which deal with different kinds of cases:

  • the Queen’s Bench Division
  • the Chancery Division
  • the Family Division

Queen’s Bench Division

The Queen’s Bench Division has two main roles. Firstly, it hears cases to do with contract law, personal injury and libel. As a result, many high-profile celebrity cases are held here, such as Tiger Woods’ injunction to stop the press publishing details of his private life.

The second role of the Queen’s Bench is to supervise the lesser courts – the Crown Court, County Court and magistrates’ courts. It is also where some government decisions can be challenged, including bail applications and election disputes.

Chancery Division

The Chancery Division deals with business and property cases. This includes things like bankruptcy, consumer rights, patents, wills and tax disputes.

Family Division

The Family Division deals with things like divorce, children’s welfare and medical treatment. This is where many controversial life-and-death cases are decided, such as those about life support and euthanasia.

Proceedings

Most proceedings in the High Court are held before a single judge. But certain kinds of proceedings, especially in the Queen's Bench Division, are assigned to a Divisional Court of two or more judges.

Juries are only used in the high court in defamation cases or cases against the police.

Under the doctrine of precedent, the High Court is bound by its own previous decisions.

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