List of county courts in England and Wales

List of county courts in England and Wales

The system of county courts in England and Wales dates back to the County Courts Act 1846, which received Royal Assent on 28 August 1846 and was brought into force on 15 March 1847. England and Wales (with the exception of the City of London, which was outside the scope of the Act) were divided into sixty circuits, with a total of 491 county courts within these circuits. [Polden, page 38] The then Lord Chancellor, Lord Cottenham, wanted everyone to be within seven miles of a court, and the final scheme came close to that aim. [Polden, page 211] One county court judge was appointed to each circuit, assisted by one or more registrars with some limited judicial powers, and would travel between the courts in his area as necessary, sitting in each court at least once a month. Few permanent courts were needed initially, given the infrequency of court hearings, and temporary accommodation such as a town hall would often be used where there was no existing courthouse for use. [Polden, pages 38–39] The judicial business of the county courts is now carried out by circuit judges (a term introduced by the Courts Act 1971) and district judges (as the post of registrar was renamed by section 74 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990).cite web|url=|title=Courts Act 1971|publisher=BAILII|accessdate=2007-11-04] cite web|url=|title=Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, section 74|publisher=BAILII|accessdate=2007-11-04 ] As at 1 April 2007, there are 639 circuit judges and 431 district judges. [cite web|url=|title=Judiciary of England and Wales statistics|publisher=Judicial Communications Office|accessdate=2007-10-30]

Over time, whilst new courts have been opened in various locations, there has been an overall reduction in the number of locations where a county court is held. There are still 176 locations where a county court has been based without a break since 1847, as shown in the table. With the closure of Gravesend County Court in 2006, there are currently 217 county courts, including the specialist Patents County Court, although this will reduce to 216 if Nelson County Court is closed, as has been proposed by the Ministry of Justice. Some county courts share a building with the Crown Court for the area (Maidstone Combined Court Centre, for example); others share a building with the local Magistrates' Court (e.g. Oswestry County Court).

The current statutory basis for the county courts is the County Courts Act 1984, with the Civil Courts Order 1983 specifying where county courts are located in England and Wales.The Civil Courts Order 1983 (SI 1983/713) (11 May 1983)] The court system is administered by Her Majesty's Courts Service, an Executive Agency of the Ministry of Justice. For administrative purposes, the courts are divided by HMCS into seven regions: London, South East England, South West England, the Midlands, North East England, North West England and Wales. The London region has the fewest county courts, with 18; the South East region has the most county courts, with 46. There are 22 county courts in Wales. The system of sixty circuits was abolished in 1970, and circuit judges and district judges can now sit in any of the courts for the region to which they have been allocated. [The County Court Districts Order 1970 (SI 1970/16) (8 February 1970)]

All name changes before 1 August 1983 (the date when the Civil Courts Order 1983 came into force) reflect changes in the locations where the court sat. Before then, a county court with more than one location in its title would sit at each location named. The obligation for one court to sit in multiple locations was removed by the Civil Courts Order 1983. Instead, it was specified that a county court was to be held at each location named in the order and courts were to be named after that one location (save for a few exceptions where the name of a former court town was retained in the court's title, such as the Aldershot and Farnham County Court).

List of courts

Until 1 January 1937, when The County Court Districts (Name of Court) Order 1936 came into force, [SI 1936/1131 (19 October 1936)] the full title of each court was "The County Court of (county) holden at (location/locations)", using the historic county names for England and for Wales. Thereafter, each court was renamed as "(location/s) County Court". For brevity, the latter form is used throughout in this table, and "County Court" is abbreviated to "CC".

ee also

*Courts of England and Wales
*List of courts in England and Wales
*List of former county courts in Wales


*Polden, Patrick (1999). "A History of the County Court, 1846–1971". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-62232-8.
*For the courts that opened on 15 March 1847: the Order in Council of 9 March 1847 bringing the 1846 Act into force on 15 March 1847 and establishing the original 491 county courts was [ published] in a supplement to the London Gazette on 10 March 1847.
*For all courts: [ the HMCS CourtFinder] gives details of each currently open county court, including details of which county courts share premises with crown courts or magistrates' courts.;Specific
*Save where references are given to publication in the London Gazette, the Statutory Instruments listed below were published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office and the date that the Order was made is given. Statutory Instruments from 1987 onwards are available online.

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