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Contemporary context

Parliament continues to develop the nation's system of courts nearly 700 years after the first Justices of the Peace were appointed by statute.


The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, for example, made significant changes to the structure of the courts and legal procedures. It included new criteria for the appointment of judges aimed at encouraging diversity, and a comprehensive overhaul of the UK's tribunal system. The Act contained proposals to create a simpler and more unified structure, better integrated into a modern courts system. The Crime and Courts Act 2013 has made modifications to the structure of courts and the appointment of judges.

Ad hoc

Prior to this legislation, tribunals in the UK had been created on an ad hoc basis to perform various judicial functions. They comprised a mixture of judges, lawyers, experts and laypeople, and were regulated by various government departments and bodies.

Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015

The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 made wide ranging reforms to the justice system, including on sentencing, cautions, and prisoners' release and recall. The legislation also made changes to courts and tribunals, including changes to the contributions from convicted criminals towards court costs; new provisions on contempt of court by the media and misconduct by jurors; and changes to the conduct and funding of judicial review claims.

Page last updated October 2016.


Current parliamentary material on the topic of courts

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