Local criminal justice

Justices of the Peace have been a focus of local justice for many centuries

Civil courts and communities

A new type of local court dealing with civil matters was developed through legislation from the mid-18th century

The assizes

People convicted of more serious crimes were put on trial at the local assize courts

The higher courts

The higher courts based at Westminster Hall were concerned with complex non-criminal cases

Judicial reform: the 1840s and 1850s

During the mid-19th century a series of major reforms were undertaken in the lower courts

The Judicature Acts of 1873 and 1875

By the 1870s much pressure for the reform of the higher courts was coming from business and industry

Justices of the Peace and reform

Important changes were made to the administration of magistrates€™ courts during the mid 20th century

Creating a modern court system

During the later 20th century the judicial system underwent a further instalment of radical change

Also within Living Heritage

Related information

Current parliamentary business on the topic of courts

Also in this section

Trace the chief pieces of legislation through which Parliament has modernised courts of law