MEANING OF HIERARCHY
The earliest meaning of hierarchy in English has to do with the ranks of
different types of angels in the celestial order. The idea of categorizing groups
according to rank readily transferred to the organization of priestly or other
governmental rule. The word hierarchy is, in fact, related to a number of
governmental words in English, such as monarchy, anarchy, and oligarchy,
although it itself is now very rarely used in relation to government.
The word comes from the Greek hierarchēs, which was formed by combining
the words hieros, meaning “supernatural, holy,” and archos, meaning.
“ruler.” Hierarchyhas continued to spread its meaning beyond
matters ecclesiastical and governmental, and today is commonly found used in
reference to any one of a number of different forms of graded classification.
UNITED KINGDOM JUDICIAL SYSTEM
The United Kingdom does not have a single body of law applicable throughout
the realm. Scotland has its own distinctive system and courts; in Northern
Ireland, certain spheres of law differ in substance from those operating in
England and Wales. A feature common to all UK legal systems, however—and
one that distinguishes them from many continental systems—is the absence of a
complete code, since legislation and unwritten or common law are all part of the
The main civil courts in England and Wales are 218 county courts for small cases
and the High Court, which is divided into the chancery division, the family
division, and the Queen’s Bench division (including the maritime and commercial
courts), for the more important cases. Appeals from the county courts may also
be heard in the High Court, though the more important ones come before the
Court of Appeal; a few appeals are heard before the House of Lords, which is the
ultimate court of appeal for civil cases throughout the United Kingdom. In
Scotland, civil cases are heard at the sheriff courts (corresponding roughly to the
English county courts) and in the Outer House of the Court of Session, which is
the supreme civil court in Scotland; appeals are heard by the Inner House of the
Court of Session. Trial by jury in civil cases is common in Scotland but rare in the
rest of the United Kingdom.
Criminal courts in England and Wales include magistrates’ courts, which try less
serious offenses (some 96% of all criminal cases) and consist most often of three
unpaid magistrates known as justices of the peace, and 78 centers of the Crown
Court, presided over by a bench of justices or, in the most serious cases, by a
High Court judge sitting alone. All contested cases receive a jury trial. Cases
involving persons under 17 years of age are heard by justices of the peace in
specially constituted juvenile courts. Appeals may be heard successively by the
Crown Court, the High Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal, and in certain cases
by the House of Lords. In Scotland, minor criminal cases are tried without jury in
the sheriff courts and district courts, and more serious cases with a jury in the
sheriff courts. The supreme criminal court is the High Court of Judiciary, where
cases are heard by a judge sitting with a jury; this is also the ultimate appeals
All criminal trials are held in open court. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland,
12-citizen juries must unanimously decide the verdict unless; with no more than
two jurors dissenting, the judge directs them to return a majority verdict. Scottish
juries of 15 persons are permitted to reach a majority decision and, if warranted,
a verdict of “not proven.” Among temporary emergency measures passed with
the aim of controlling terrorism in Northern Ireland are those empowering
ministers to order the search, arrest, and detention of suspected terrorists and
permitting juryless trials for terrorist acts in Northern Ireland.
Central responsibility for the administration of the judicial system lies with the lord
chancellor (who heads the judiciary and also serves as a cabinet minister and as
speaker of the House of Lords) and the home secretary (and the secretaries of
state for Scotland and for Northern Ireland). Judges are appointed by the crown,
on the advice of the prime minister, Lord Chancellor, or the appropriate cabinet
The United Kingdom accepts the compulsory jurisdiction of the International
Court of Justice with reservations.
MEANING OF HEIRARCHY OF COURT
A court hierarchy establishes which decisions are binding on which courts. There
are some exceptions and complications to what follows but, in general and for
most purposes, the higher up a court is in the hierarchy, the more authoritative its
decisions. I mean ‘authoritative’ in the sense that decisions of the higher courts
will bind lower courts to apply the same decided principle.
COURT STRUCTURE FLOW CHART
The Hierarchy of UK Courts
The court system in England and Wales can be considered as
consisting of 5 levels:
• Supreme Court (formerly the House of Lords) and the Judicial Committee
of the Privy Council
• Court of Appeal
• High Court
• Crown Court and County Courts
• Magistrates’ Courts and the Tribunals Service
There is a similar court system in Northern Ireland and a different court system in
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the court of final appeal for
Commonwealth countries that have retained appeals to either Her Majesty in
Council or to the Judicial Committee. It is also the court of final appeal for the High
Court of Justiciary in Scotland for issues related to devolution. Some functions of
the Judicial Committee were taken over by the new Supreme Court in 2009.
Supreme Court (formerly the House of Lords)
In 2009 the Supreme Court replaced the House of Lords as the highest court in
England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As with the House of Lords, the Supreme
Court hears appeals from the Court of Appeal and the High Court (only in
exceptional circumstances). It also hears appeals from the Inner House of the Court
of Session in Scotland. Appeals are normally heard by 5 Justices (formerly Lords of
Appeal in Ordinary, or Law Lords), but there can be as many as 9.
Power of Supreme Court
• is the final court of appeal for all United Kingdom civil cases, and criminal
cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland
• hears appeals on arguable points of law of general public importance
• concentrates on cases of the greatest public and constitutional importance
• maintains and develops the role of the highest court in the United Kingdom
as a leader in the common law world.
Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal consists of 2 divisions, the Criminal Division and the Civil
Decision. Decisions of the Court of Appeal may be appealed to the Supreme Court
(formerly the House of Lords).
Power of court of appeal
(1)On an appeal, the court may
• (a) make or give any order that could have been made or given by the court or
tribunal appealed from,
• (b) impose reasonable terms and conditions in an order, and
• (c) make or give any additional order that it considers just.
(2)The court or a justice may draw inferences of fact.
(3)The court may exercise any original jurisdiction that may be necessary or
incidental to the hearing and determination of an appeal.
(4)The court may exercise its powers
• (a)even though only part of an order has been appealed from, and
• (b)in favor of any person whether the person is a party to the appeal.
(5) If a power is given to a justice by this Act or the rules, the court may exercise the
(6) The court may discharge or vary any order made by a justice other than an
order granting leave to appeal under section 7.
(7) The court and a justice have the same powers as the Supreme Court in relation
to matters of contempt of court.
(8) For all purposes of and incidental to the hearing and determination of any matter
and the amendment, execution and enforcement of any order and for the purpose of
every other authority expressly or impliedly given to the Court of Appeal,
• (a) the Court of Appeal has the power, authority and jurisdiction vested in the
Supreme Court, and
• (b) if the appeal is not from the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal has the
power, authority and jurisdiction vested in the court or tribunal from which the
appeal was brought.
The Civil Division of the Court of Appeal hears appeals concerning civil law and
family justice from the High Court, from Tribunals, and certain cases from the
The Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal hears appeals from the Crown Court.
The High Court consists of 3 divisions, the Chancery Division, the Family Division,
and the Queen’s Bench Division. Decisions of the High Court may be appealed to
the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal.
Power of high court:
The High Court functions as both a court of first instance for high value civil claims
and as an appellate court for civil and criminal cases.
Chancery Division: Companies Court:
The Companies Court of the Chancery Division deals with cases concerning
commercial fraud, business disputes, insolvency, company management, and
disqualification of directors.
Chancery Division: Divisional Court:
The Divisional Court of the Chancery Division deals with cases concerning equity,
trusts, contentious probate, tax partnerships, bankruptcy and land.
Chancery Division: Patents Court:
The Patents Court of the Chancery Division deals with cases concerning intellectual
property, copyright, patents and trademarks, including passing off.
Family Division: Divisional Court:
The Divisional Court of the Family Division deals with all matrimonial matters,
including custody of children, parentage, adoption, family homes, domestic
violence, separation, annulment, divorce and medical treatment declarations, and
with uncontested probate matters.
Queen’s Bench Division: Administrative Court:
The Administrative Court of the Queen’s Bench Division hears judicial reviews,
statutory appeals and application, application for habeas corpus, and applications
under the Drug Trafficking Act 1984 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988. It also
oversees the legality of decisions and actions of inferior courts and tribunals, local
authorities, Ministers of the Crown, and other public bodies and officials.
Queen’s Bench Division: Admiralty Court:
The Admiralty Court of the Queen’s Bench Division deals with shipping and
maritime disputes, including collisions, salvage, carriage of cargo, limitation, and
mortgage disputes. The Court can arrest vessels and cargoes and sell them within
the jurisdiction of England and Wales.
Queen’s Bench Division: Commercial Court:
The Commercial Court of the Queen’s Bench Division deals with cases arising from
national and international business disputes, including international trade, banking,
commodities, and arbitration disputes.
Queen’s Bench Division: Mercantile Court:
The Mercantile Court of the Queen’s Bench Division deals with national and
international business disputes that involve claims of lesser value and complexity
than those heard by the Commercial Court.
Queen’s Bench Division: Technology and Construction Court:
The Technology and Construction Court of the Queen’s Bench Division is a
specialist court that deals principally with technology and construction disputes that
involve issues or questions which are technically complex, and with cases where a
trial by a specialist TCC judge is desirable.
The County Courts deal with all except the most complicated and the most simple
civil cases (including most matters under the value of £5000), such as claims for
repayment of debts, breach of contract involving goods or property, personal injury,
family issues (including adoption and divorce), housing issues (including recovery of
mortgage and rent arrears, and re-possession), and enforcement of previous
County Court judgments. Cases are heard by a judge, without a jury. Decisions of
the County Courts may be appealed to the appropriate Division of the High Court.
The Crown Court deals with indictable criminal cases that have been transferred
from the Magistrates’ Courts, including hearing of serious criminal cases (such as
murder, rape and robbery), cases sent for sentencing, and appeals. Cases are
heard by a judge and a jury. Decisions of the Crown Court may be appealed to the
Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal.
The Magistrates’ Courts deal with summary criminal cases and committals to the
Crown Court, with simple civil cases including family proceedings courts and youth
courts, and with licensing of betting, gaming and liquor. Cases are normally heard
by either a panel of 3 magistrates or by a District Judge, without a jury. Criminal
decisions of the Magistrates’ Courts may be appealed to the Crown Court. Civil
decisions may be appealed to the County Courts.
The Tribunals Service makes decisions on matters including asylum, immigration,
criminal injuries compensation, social security, education, employment, child
support, pensions, tax and lands. Decisions of the Tribunals Service may be
appealed to the appropriate Division of the High Court.
Power of tribunal service
• Tribunal members are the specialist non-legal members of the panel hearing the
cases. Not every panel includes non legal members.
• Tribunals have limited powers (depending on the jurisdiction of the case) to
impose fines and penalties or to award compensation and costs. Other types of
tribunal decisions might result in the allowance or disallowance of a benefit; leave
or refusal to stay in the UK or about the provision of special educational help for
school age children.
The UK has an unwritten constitution in that there is no single written document that
sets out the rights of individual citizens and how the Government should act. The UK
constitution is comprised of a variety of sources, some of which are written (such as
statutes) and others (such as constitutional conventions), which are unwritten.
The head of state is the monarch (currently, Queen Elizabeth II) who is unelected
and who occupies that position by virtue of birth. In practice, the role of the monarch is
Some powers that the Government exercises are derived from the Royal
Prerogative and are exercised in the name of the monarch, although the monarch
remains legally responsible for their exercise.
There is no formal separation of powers in the UK constitution, but it is possible to
identify persons or bodies that make up branches of the state:
• The executive branch is made up of the monarch, the Prime Minister and other
Government Ministers, the civil service and members of the police and armed
• The legislative branch is made up of the monarch, the House of Commons and
the House of Lords.
• The judicial branch is made up of the monarch, legally qualified judges and
magistrates (non-legally qualified members of the public).
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge