- List of former county courts in Wales
This is a list of former county courts in Wales. The modern system of
county courtsin England and Wales dates from the County Courts Act 1846, which received Royal Assenton 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 courts. [Polden, page 38] Four of these circuits were wholly in Wales, as were 46 of these courts. A further seven courts were located in Monmouthshire (which had at the time an ambiguous status and was sometimes treated as being part of England) and these seven courts were part of a circuit for Monmouthshire and Herefordshire. [cite web |url=http://callisto.ggsrv.com/imgsrv/WrapPDF?banner=47952a38&digest=4b61f0f1d11c0c1351de2affa4ff52bd&contentSet=LT&recordID=0FFO-1847-MAR29-008-F |title=The new judges under the Small Debts Act |publisher= The Timesarchive (subscription access) |pages=8 |date=29 March 1847 |accessdate=2008-01-21] 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]
Over time, although new courts have been opened in various locations, there has been a reduction in the number of locations where a county court is held. In all, 80 towns and cities in Wales have held county courts since 1847: 58 have closed and, as of 2008, 22 county courts in Wales are still open. The most recent town to be given a county court is
Caerphilly, in 1965, although this closed in 2000. The first county court to close was Fishguard, in 1856. The latest county courts to close in Wales were Chepstowand Monmouthin 2002. Newbridge was the location of a county court for the shortest period – for only five months in 1856. Blaenavonis the only town in Wales to have a county court close and then reopen (both in 1938).
Courts have been closed for various reasons. The county courts at Fishguard,
Ruabonand Cowbridgewere closed because it was considered "inexpedient" to continue to hold courts there. In other cases, it was thought that it would be "of advantage to the public" to move the location of a court: the court at Pembroke was replaced by one at Pembroke Dockand the court at Newbridge was replaced by one at Pontypriddfor this reason. The volume of court business declined during the Second World Warand some little-used courts (including, in Wales, Presteignand Llandeilo) were closed as a result. [Polden, page 151]
There has been pressure to close courts for economic reasons since the nineteenth century. In 1872, more than 300 of the county courts in England and Wales cost more to run than they received in fees, but widespread closures were politically impossible. [Polden, page 212] In 1899, there were proposals to close courts where fewer than 20 claims were issued per year, but these plans were frustrated by local pressure to keep courts open, since having a county court in a town was generally regarded as a mark of the town's importance. [Polden, page 213] A review of the provision of county courts after the
First World Warconcluded that Mid Wales had an "unjustifiably generous" number of county courts, but only one ( Llangollen) was proposed for closure, given the need to maintain courts in rural areas. [Polden, page 214]
More recently, considerations in deciding whether to close a court have included "the costs and practical implications of running a court, the public facilities, waiting times, workload levels and the overall standard of service that can be made available over the area as a whole". [cite hansard | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmhansrd/vo980706/text/80706w14.htm | house=House of Commons | date=6 July 1998 | column=383 ]
MonmouthCounty Court, for example, was closed in 2002 because of the poor standard of the court accommodation, the lack of access for people with disabilities and the high cost to run the court compared with the use it received. The Government estimated in March 2000 that the closure of 55 county courts in England and Wales (including nine courts in Wales) in the previous six years had saved a minimum of £6 million, through reductions in rent and accommodation charges, running costs and judicial expense. [cite hansard | url=http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199900/cmhansrd/vo000307/text/00307w27.htm | house=House of Commons | date=7 March 2000 | column=654W ]
List of former courts
Until 1 January 1937, the full title of each court was "The County Court of (county) holden at (location/locations)", using the historic county names. Thereafter, each court was renamed as "(location/s) County Court". [The County Court Districts (Name of Court) Order 1936 (SI 1936/1131) (19 October 1936)] For brevity, the latter form is used throughout in this table, with "County Court" being abbreviated to "CC". All name changes in the table reflect changes in the locations where the court sat since, until 1 August 1983, a county court with more than one location in its title would sit at each location named.
Courts of England and Wales
List of county courts in England and Wales
*Polden, Patrick (1999). "A History of the County Court, 1846–1971".
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521622325.
*For the courts that opened on 15 March 1847: the
Order in Councilof 9 March 1847 bringing the 1846 Act into force on 15 March 1847 and establishing the original 491 county courts was [http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/ViewPDF.aspx?pdf=29713&geotype=London&gpn=989&type=ArchivedIssuePage&all=county%20court published] in a supplement to the London Gazetteon 10 March 1847.;Specific
*Save where references are given to publication in the London Gazette, the
Statutory Instruments listed below were published by Her Majesty's Stationery Officeand the date that the Order was made is given. Statutory Instruments from 1987 onwards are available online.
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