In this task I shall compare and contrast the roles and functions of judges, lawyers and lay people in the English legal courts. Judges There are two types of judges, superior judges and inferior judges in the UK. The superior judges are entitled to work in the higher courts such as, the court of Appeal, and the House of Lords. Whereas, inferior judges work in the lower courts in the hierarchy such as crown courts and supreme courts. Superior judges are called district judges and inferior judges are called circuit judges.
District judges are full-time judges who deal with the majority of cases in the county courts. These judges are appointed by the queen and mainly deal with claims and other matters within the court. However, Circuit judges are appointed to one of seven regions of England and Wales, and sit in the crown and county courts within their particular region. The difference between both judges is that, superior judges are more experienced as compared to the inferior judges, they have a minimum experience of 20 years but inferior judge has less experience so therefore, they have to do some training.
Superior judges wear long wigs and extravagant gowns; however, inferior judges also wear the same but a bit shorter. For superior judges their salaries are a lot higher compared to inferior judges. In criminal courts juries look upon the factors and decide if the verdict is guilty or not, whereas the judge looks on the law and decides the sentence. On the other hand, the judges in civil cases decide if the verdict is liable or not beyond reasonable doubt and if the verdict needs to pay injunctions. Barristers & Solicitors
Barristers are lawyers who argue a clients case where as Solicitors prepare paper work and usually handle civil cases which includes divorces, wills for husband and wife, suing someone and offering no win no fee personal injury claims, they sit and work in the lower courts which are the magistrate’s courts and county courts. Solicitors also have to keep up to date with the law as they change often. Barristers are entitled to where wigs in the court where as a solicitor doesn’t wear a wig, they are subject to wear ordinary suit.
Most barristers though will spend their professional lives in the court, hearing cases in the crown court and high court where as a solicitor will spend their time in working in the lower courts which are the magistrates court and county courts. However both solicitors and barristers must complete two clear stages of training, the academic and vocational stages, this shows their similarities. The academic stage is accomplished by obtaining a law degree, and then they have to complete a second stage of vocational training.
The bar vocational course is for the period of 1 year and costs more than one or two grand however the solicitors complete a year of the legal practice course. The Bar vocational course is designed by the general council of the bar to provide the students of the bar with practical skills involved in court work. They have to be a member of the inn court and then have to have the 12 dinners and if they fail to maintain the standards set out in their code of conduct, in extreme cases the Committee can exclude a barrister from performing.
Before a barrister can actually practice on their own, they must face the hurdle of finding set of chambers to join their 12 months ‘pupillage’ where they work with a well experienced barrister to learn the practices of law and the court, on the other hand, solicitors who are training have to have a university degree which is a course for three years. They can then do a further course called the ‘Learning Practice Course’ that is a course for 1 year. Barristers have a training contract of 2 years which they get paid for which is a minimum ?
18000. Some barristers have the opportunity to work within their profession. Senior barristers are given the title of Queens counsel, though in some jurisdiction, it is being replaced by the senior counsel. A few of these will be asked to become judges where as solicitors do not get this opportunity and also barristers may start they profession earning less but however, gradually will increase a lot more than solicitors once the barristers become well known.
Barristers are self-employed and on the other hand, solicitors are employed. The relationship of a solicitor with its client is contractual where as a relationship of a barrister with its client is normally through the solicitor but accountants and surveyors can brief barristers directly. Magistrates These are trained, unpaid members of the public within their local community. They work part time (26 days a year).
On the other hand, juries are also unpaid people but it is their duty to fulfill the job. Magistrates deal with summary offence such as theft, nuisance and motor offending etc. however juries work in the crown court and they decide the facts about the case they are listening whereas a magistrate will pay attention to the law. Juries sit in a panel of 12 and decide if the verdict is guilty or not whereas magistrates sit in a panel of 3 and decide the law and give an appropriate sentence.
The similarities between both are that, they don’t require any legal qualification or training. Both also should be from the age of 18 – 70 and the person who is taking the role of a jury, they must enrolled in the electronic register. The maximum sentence a magistrate can give 6 months imprisonment and ? 5000 fine whereas a jury doesn’t have the authority to give the sentence apart from deciding guilty or not guilty.