Information on the magistrates' court


Most people in the UK who have contact with the court system will have contact with the magistrates’ court. The magistrates' court is the lowest level of court in England and Wales, dealing mostly with minor offences – in fact, magistrates’ courts deal with about 95% of criminal cases in England and Wales.

For example, if you are charged with a traffic offence or other minor regulatory or criminal offence you will appear in this court. Less serious offences are handled entirely in the magistrates’ court whereas more serious offences are passed on to the Crown Court.

The magistrates' court also deals with a number of civil matters, such as basic family matters concerning the welfare of children or the payment of maintenance, and local licensing and council tax issues.

In this section we explain the basic things you should know about this court, including the role of magistrates, types of offences dealt with, court procedure, and the penalties that can be imposed. If you are going to be attending court you can find some useful information about what to expect in our section on How the Courts Work.

If you are seeking expert legal advice, or if you would like to be represented in court, Contact Law has over 5,000 solicitors throughout the UK that we can put you in touch with directly. So, if you are looking for expert legal advice, please call us on 0800 1777 162 and let our experienced case handlers match you to the right solicitor for your needs.

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