Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister directs both the executive and the legislature, together with their Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Monarch, to Parliament, to their political party and to the electorate; the office of Prime Minister is one of the Great Offices of State. The current holder of the office, Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, was appointed by the Queen on 13 July 2016; the office is not established by any statute or constitutional document but exists only by long-established convention, which stipulates that the monarch must appoint as Prime Minister the person most to command the confidence of the House of Commons. The position of Prime Minister was not created; the office is therefore best understood from a historical perspective. The origins of the position are found in constitutional changes that occurred during the Revolutionary Settlement and the resulting shift of political power from the Sovereign to Parliament.
Although the Sovereign was not stripped of the ancient prerogative powers and remained the head of government, politically it became necessary for him or her to govern through a Prime Minister who could command a majority in Parliament. By the 1830s the Westminster system of government had emerged; the political position of Prime Minister was enhanced by the development of modern political parties, the introduction of mass communication, photography. By the start of the 20th century the modern premiership had emerged. Prior to 1902, the Prime Minister sometimes came from the House of Lords, provided that his government could form a majority in the Commons; however as the power of the aristocracy waned during the 19th century the convention developed that the Prime Minister should always sit in the lower house. As leader of the House of Commons, the Prime Minister's authority was further enhanced by the Parliament Act 1911 which marginalised the influence of the House of Lords in the law-making process.
The Prime Minister is ex officio First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service. Certain privileges, such as residency of 10 Downing Street, are accorded to Prime Ministers by virtue of their position as First Lord of the Treasury; the status of the position as Prime Minister means that the incumbent is ranked as one of the most powerful and influential people in the world. The Prime Minister is the head of the United Kingdom government; as such, the modern Prime Minister leads the Cabinet. In addition, the Prime Minister leads a major political party and commands a majority in the House of Commons; the incumbent wields both significant legislative and executive powers. Under the British system, there is a unity of powers rather than separation. In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister guides the law-making process with the goal of enacting the legislative agenda of their political party. In an executive capacity, the Prime Minister appoints all other Cabinet members and ministers, co-ordinates the policies and activities of all government departments, the staff of the Civil Service.
The Prime Minister acts as the public "face" and "voice" of Her Majesty's Government, both at home and abroad. Upon the advice of the Prime Minister, the Sovereign exercises many statutory and prerogative powers, including high judicial, political and Church of England ecclesiastical appointments; the British system of government is based on an uncodified constitution, meaning that it is not set out in any single document. The British constitution consists of many documents and most for the evolution of the Office of the Prime Minister, it is based on customs known as constitutional conventions that became accepted practice. In 1928, Prime Minister H. H. Asquith described this characteristic of the British constitution in his memoirs:In this country we live... under an unwritten Constitution. It is true that we have on the Statute-book great instruments like Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Bill of Rights which define and secure many of our rights and privileges, they rest on usage, convention of slow growth in their early stages, not always uniform, but which in the course of time received universal observance and respect.
The relationships between the Prime Minister and the Sovereign and Cabinet are defined by these unwritten conventions of the constitution. Many of the Prime Minister's executive and legislative powers are royal prerogatives which are still formally vested in the Sovereign, who remains the head of state. Despite its growing
John Simon Bercow is a British politician, the Speaker of the House of Commons since June 2009. He concurrently serves as the Member of Parliament for Buckingham. Prior to his election to Speaker, he was a member of the Conservative Party. A former right-winger, he changed his views after becoming an MP and at one time was rumoured to be to defect to the Labour Party. Bercow's election to the Speaker's chair depended on the backing of other parties, was unpopular with many of his former Conservative Party colleagues, he served as a councillor from 1986 to 1990 and unsuccessfully contested parliamentary seats in the 1987 and 1992 general elections. In the 1997 general election, Bercow was elected the MP for Buckingham and promoted to the shadow cabinet in 2001, he held posts in the shadow cabinets of Iain Duncan Michael Howard. In November 2002, he resigned from the shadow cabinet over disputes concerning the Adoption and Children Act but returned under Howard in 2003. In September 2004, Bercow was dismissed after disagreements with Howard.
Following the resignation of Speaker Michael Martin, Bercow announced his intention to stand for the Speakership election on 22 June 2009 and was successful. He remained Speaker and was re-elected in his constituency at the general election on 7 May 2015, he was re-elected as Speaker, when the House sat at the start of the new parliament on 18 May 2015. Following the 2017 general election, Bercow was re-elected, again unopposed, as Speaker, on 13 June 2017, he is the first Speaker since the Second World War to be elected to the post three times. In October 2009, Bercow chaired the United Kingdom Youth Parliament's first annual sitting in the House of Commons, making them the only group except Members of Parliament to sit in the chamber, he has chaired every subsequent sitting and attended every annual conference and supporting Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK. In 2014, Bercow was appointed Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, in July 2017 he was appointed Chancellor of the University of Essex.
In October 2018, it was reported that Bercow intended to step down as Speaker in the summer of 2019, due to a report on the failure of high-level figures in Parliament to deal adequately with bullying of staff at Westminster and due to allegations of bullying made against him personally. However, it was reported that Bercow planned "to stay as speaker" until the end of parliament in 2022. Bercow was born in Edgware, the son of Brenda and Charles Bercow, a taxi driver, his father was born to his mother converted to Judaism. His paternal grandparents were Jews. Having settled in the UK, the family anglicised its surname from Berkowitz to Bercow. Bercow attended Frith Manor Primary School in Woodside Park, Finchley Manorhill, a large comprehensive school in North Finchley. In his youth, Bercow had been ranked Britain's No. 1 junior tennis player, but came down with bronchial asthma and was unable to pursue a professional career. Bercow graduated with a first-class honours degree in government from the University of Essex in 1985.
Professor Anthony King said "When he was a student here, he was right-wing, pretty stroppy, good. He was an outstanding student."As a young activist, Bercow was a member of the right-wing Conservative Monday Club. He stood as a candidate for the club's national executive in 1981 with a manifesto calling for a programme of "assisted repatriation" of immigrants, became secretary of its immigration and repatriation committee. However, at the age of 20 he left the club, citing the views of many of the club's members as his reason, has since called his participation in the club "utter madness" and dismissed his views from that period as "bone headed". After graduating from the University of Essex, Bercow was elected as the last national chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students, 1986–87; the FCS was broken up by the chairman of the Conservative Party, Norman Tebbit, after one of its members had accused previous Tory PM Harold Macmillan of war crimes in extraditing Cossacks to the Soviet Union.
Bercow attracted the attention of the Conservative leadership, in 1987 he was appointed by Tebbit as vice-chairman of the Conservative Collegiate Forum to head the campaign for student support in the run-up to the 1987 general election. After a spell in merchant banking, Bercow joined the lobbying firm Rowland Sallingbury Casey in 1988, becoming a board director within five years. With fellow Conservative Julian Lewis, Bercow ran an advanced speaking and campaigning course for over 10 years, which trained over 600 Conservatives in campaigning and communication techniques, he has lectured in the United States to students of the Leadership Institute. In 1986, Bercow was elected as a Conservative councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth, served for four years representing the Streatham, St Leonard's ward. In 1987, he was appointed the youngest deputy group leader in the United Kingdom. In 1995, Bercow was appointed as a special adviser to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Jonathan Aitken.
After Aitken's resignation to fight a libel action, Bercow served as a special adviser to the Secretary of State for National Heritage, Virginia Bottomley. Bercow was an unsuccessful Conservative candidate in the 1987 general election in Motherwell South, again at the 1992 general election in Bristol South. In 1996 he paid £1,000 to charter a helicopter so that he could attend the selection meetings for two safe Conservative parliamentary seats on the same day – Buckingham and Surrey Heath –
President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The President of the Supreme Court is the president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The office is equivalent to the now-defunct position of Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary known as the Senior Law Lord, the highest ranking among the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary; the current President is Lady Hale, since 2 October 2017. From 1900 to 1969, when the Lord Chancellor was not present, a former Lord Chancellor would preside at judicial sittings of the House of Lords. If no former Lord Chancellor was present, the most senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary present would preside, seniority being determined by rank in the peerage. In the years following World War II, it became less common for Lord Chancellors to have time to gain judicial experience in office, making it anomalous for former holders of the office to take precedence; as a result, on 22 May 1969, the rules were changed such that if the Lord Chancellor was not present, the most senior Law Lord, by appointment as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary rather than peerage, would preside.
In 1984, the system was amended to provide that judges be appointed as Senior and Second Senior Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, rather than taking the roles by seniority. The purpose of the change was to allow an ailing Lord Diplock to step aside from presiding, yet remain a Law Lord. On 1 October 2009, the judicial functions of the House of Lords were transferred to the new Supreme Court under the provisions of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005; the Senior Law Lord, Lord Phillips, the Second Senior Law Lord became the President and the Deputy President of the new court. The same day, the Queen by warrant established a place for the President of the Supreme Court in the order of precedence after the Lord Speaker. Lord Reid Lord Wilberforce Lord Diplock Lord Fraser Lord Scarman Lord Keith of Kinkel Lord Goff Lord Browne-Wilkinson Lord Bingham Lord Phillips Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom Senior President of Tribunals Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Lord President of the Court of Session
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, domestically as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, the House of Commons; the two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London. The House of Lords includes two different types of members: the Lords Spiritual, consisting of the most senior bishops of the Church of England, the Lords Temporal, consisting of life peers, appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister, of 92 hereditary peers, sitting either by virtue of holding a royal office, or by being elected by their fellow hereditary peers.
Prior to the opening of the Supreme Court in October 2009, the House of Lords performed a judicial role through the Law Lords. The House of Commons is an elected chamber with elections to 650 single member constituencies held at least every five years under the first-past-the-post system; the two Houses meet in separate chambers in the Palace of Westminster in London. By constitutional convention, all government ministers, including the Prime Minister, are members of the House of Commons or, less the House of Lords and are thereby accountable to the respective branches of the legislature. Most cabinet ministers are from the Commons, whilst junior ministers can be from either House. However, the Leader of the House of Lords must be a peer; the Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Treaty of Union by Acts of Union passed by the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland, both Acts of Union stating, "That the United Kingdom of Great Britain be represented by one and the same Parliament to be styled The Parliament of Great Britain".
At the start of the 19th century, Parliament was further enlarged by Acts of Union ratified by the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland that abolished the latter and added 100 Irish MPs and 32 Lords to the former to create the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927 formally amended the name to the "Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", five years after the secession of the Irish Free State in 1922. With the global expansion of the British Empire, the UK Parliament has shaped the political systems of many countries as ex-colonies and so it has been called the "Mother of Parliaments". However, John Bright – who coined the epithet – used it in reference to the political culture of "England" rather than just the parliamentary system. In theory, the UK's supreme legislative power is vested in the Crown-in-Parliament. However, the Crown acts on the advice of the Prime Minister and the powers of the House of Lords are limited to only delaying legislation.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was created on 1 January 1801, by the merger of the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800. The principle of ministerial responsibility to the lower House did not develop until the 19th century—the House of Lords was superior to the House of Commons both in theory and in practice. Members of the House of Commons were elected in an antiquated electoral system, under which constituencies of vastly different sizes existed. Thus, the borough of Old Sarum, with seven voters, could elect two members, as could the borough of Dunwich, which had completely disappeared into the sea due to land erosion. Many small constituencies, known as pocket or rotten boroughs, were controlled by members of the House of Lords, who could ensure the election of their relatives or supporters. During the reforms of the 19th century, beginning with the Reform Act 1832, the electoral system for the House of Commons was progressively regularised.
No longer dependent on the Lords for their seats, MPs grew more assertive. The supremacy of the British House of Commons was reaffirmed in the early 20th century. In 1909, the Commons passed the so-called "People's Budget", which made numerous changes to the taxation system which were detrimental to wealthy landowners; the House of Lords, which consisted of powerful landowners, rejected the Budget. On the basis of the Budget's popularity and the Lords' consequent unpopularity, the Liberal Party narrowly won two general elections in 1910. Using the result as a mandate, the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith, introduced the Parliament Bill, which sought to restrict the powers of the House of Lords; when the Lords refused to pass the bill, Asquith countered with a promise extracted from the King in secret before the second general election of 1910 and requested the creation of several hundred Liberal peers, so as to erase the Conservative majority in the House of Lords. In the face of such a threat, the House of Lords narrowly passed the bill.
The Parliament Act 1911, as it became, prevented the Lords from blocking a money bill, allowed them to delay any other bill for a maximum of three sessions, after which it could become law over their objections. However, regardless of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, t
Government of the United Kingdom
The Government of the United Kingdom, formally referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is commonly referred to as the UK Government or the British Government; the government is led by the Prime Minister. The prime minister and the other most senior ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as the Cabinet; the government ministers all sit in Parliament, are accountable to it. The government is dependent on Parliament to make primary legislation, since the Fixed-terms Parliaments Act 2011, general elections are held every five years to elect a new House of Commons, unless there is a successful vote of no confidence in the government or a two-thirds vote for a snap election in the House of Commons, in which case an election may be held sooner. After an election, the monarch selects as prime minister the leader of the party most to command the confidence of the House of Commons by possessing a majority of MPs.
Under the uncodified British constitution, executive authority lies with the monarch, although this authority is exercised only by, or on the advice of, the prime minister and the cabinet. The Cabinet members advise the monarch as members of the Privy Council. In most cases they exercise power directly as leaders of the Government Departments, though some Cabinet positions are sinecures to a greater or lesser degree; the current prime minister is Theresa May, who took office on 13 July 2016. She is the leader of the Conservative Party, which won a majority of seats in the House of Commons in the general election on 7 May 2015, when David Cameron was the party leader. Prior to this and the Conservatives led a coalition from 2010 to 2015 with the Liberal Democrats, in which Cameron was prime minister; the Government is referred to with the metonym Westminster, due to that being where many of the offices of the government are situated by members in the Government of Scotland, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive in order to differentiate it from their own.
A key principle of the British Constitution is. This is called responsible government; the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy in which the reigning monarch does not make any open political decisions. All political decisions are taken by Parliament; this constitutional state of affairs is the result of a long history of constraining and reducing the political power of the monarch, beginning with Magna Carta in 1215. Parliament is split into the House of Commons; the House of Commons is the more powerful. The House of Lords is the upper house and although it can vote to amend proposed laws, the House of Commons can vote to overrule its amendments. Although the House of Lords can introduce bills, most important laws are introduced in the House of Commons – and most of those are introduced by the government, which schedules the vast majority of parliamentary time in the Commons. Parliamentary time is essential for bills to be passed into law, because they must pass through a number of readings before becoming law.
Prior to introducing a bill, the government may run a public consultation to solicit feedback from the public and businesses, may have introduced and discussed the policy in the Queen's Speech, or in an election manifesto or party platform. Ministers of the Crown are responsible to the House. For most senior ministers this is the elected House of Commons rather than the House of Lords. There have been some recent exceptions to this: for example, cabinet ministers Lord Mandelson and Lord Adonis sat in the Lords and were responsible to that House during the government of Gordon Brown. Since the start of Edward VII's reign in 1901, the prime minister has always been an elected member of Parliament and therefore directly accountable to the House of Commons. A similar convention applies to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be politically unacceptable for the budget speech to be given in the Lords, with MPs unable to directly question the Chancellor now that the Lords have limited powers in relation to money bills.
The last Chancellor of the Exchequer to be a member of the House of Lords was Lord Denman, who served as interim Chancellor of the Exchequer for one month in 1834. Under the British system, the government is required by convention and for practical reasons to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons, it requires the support of the House of Commons for the maintenance of supply and to pass primary legislation. By convention, if a government loses the confidence of the House of Commons it must either resign or a General Election is held; the support of the Lords, while useful to the government in getting its legislation passed without delay, is not vital. A government is not required to resign if it loses the confidence of the Lords and is defeated in key votes in that House; the House of Commons is thus the Responsible house. The prime minister is held to account during Prime Minister's Questions which provides an opportunity for MPs from all parties to question the PM on any subject
The Lord Speaker is the speaker of the House of Lords in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The office is analogous to the Speaker of the House of Commons: the Lord Speaker is elected by the members of the House of Lords and is expected to be politically impartial; until July 2006, the role of presiding officer in the House of Lords was undertaken by the Lord Chancellor. Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the position of the Speaker of the House of Lords became a separate office, allowing the position to be held by someone other than the Lord Chancellor; the Lord Chancellor continued to act as speaker of the House of Lords in an interim period after the Act was passed while the House of Lords considered new arrangements about its speakership. The current Lord Speaker is Lord Fowler. In 2003, following the decision to disaggregate the roles performed by the Lord Chancellor, a Select Committee of the House of Lords looked into the proposed new office of its presiding officer, including the title for the elected speaker of the Lords.
Following their recommendations, the new speaker was named "Lord Speaker", the number of deputy speakers has fallen from 25 to twelve. "Lord Speaker" was chosen in part because it was in use in the Standing Orders and the Companion. The main functions of the Lord Speaker are to take the chair in debates held in the chamber of the House of Lords, to advise the House of Lords on procedural rules, to take formal responsibility for security in the areas of the Palace of Westminster occupied by the House of Lords and its members, to speak for the House of Lords on ceremonial occasions, to represent the House of Lords as its ambassador in the UK and overseas; the role has less power than the Speaker of the House of Commons. The House of Lords is self-governing, its presiding officer has traditionally taken a less active role in debates than the Speaker of the House of Commons. For example, unlike the Speaker, the Lord Speaker does not call the House to order, determine, to speak when two individuals rise at the same time, rule on points of order, discipline members who violate the rules of the House, or select amendments to bills—all these functions are performed by the House of Lords as a whole.
Furthermore, whilst speeches in the House of Commons are addressed directly to the Speaker, those in the House of Lords are addressed to the House as a whole. In practice, the only task of the Lord Speaker in the Chamber is to formally put the question before a vote, to announce the result of any vote, to make certain announcements to the House. Furthermore, the Lord Speaker may end the adjournment of the House during a public emergency; the Lord Speaker has assumed most of the duties that the Lord Chancellor used to have in relation to his parliamentary role. When peers debated the creation of the office, there was debate as to whether the new speaker should have additional powers and responsibilities that the Lord Chancellor does not have resolved in the negative; the debate was renewed with proposals put forward by a Leader's Group led by Alastair Goodlad. The proposals include allowing the Lord Speaker, during Question Time and ministerial statements, to take on the role of advising the House which party should speak next when there is a dispute.
The Leader of the House of Lords, a Government minister handles this task. The decision of who should speak would remain with the House. A similar proposal was made by the committee that discussed the new office. A further option would allow the Speaker more power during Question Time, but it was not recommended by the Leader's Group; the Group's report has yet to be approved. Like the Speaker of the House of Commons, but unlike the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Speaker is expected to remain non-partisan whilst in office. On election, the Lord Speaker resigns the party whip or crossbench group and certain outside interests to concentrate on being an impartial presiding officer; the Lord Speaker is elected for a maximum term of five years, may serve a maximum of two terms. The election is conducted using the Alternative Vote method. Under amendments made on 3 May 2011, elections must be held by 15 July of final year of a term, with the new term beginning on 1 September; when Helene Hayman, Baroness Hayman was elected the first Lord Speaker, the Clerk of the Parliaments announced the result, the Lord Chamberlain announced the Queen's confirmation of the choice.
Lord Speaker thus elected replaced the Lord Chancellor on the Woolsack. By Royal Warrant on 4 July 2006, the Queen declared that the Lord Speaker would have rank and precedence after the Speaker of the House of Commons; the Lord Speaker earns a salary of £101,038, less than the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Lord Speaker, like the Speaker of the House of Commons, is entitled to a grace and favour apartment in the Parliamentary Estate. Like the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Speaker wears court dress with a plain black silk gown while presiding over the House and a black silk damask and gold lace ceremonial gown on state occasions. To date holders of the office have chosen not to wear a wig, as the Lord Chancellor did, though they do have the option; when presiding over debates, the Lord Speaker sits on the Woolsack. Before each day's sitting of the House of Lords, the Lord Speaker forms part of
Courts of England and Wales
The Courts of England and Wales, supported administratively by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in England and Wales. The United Kingdom does not have a single unified legal system—England and Wales has one system, Scotland another, Northern Ireland a third. There are exceptions to this rule. Additionally, the Military Court Service has jurisdiction over all members of the armed forces of the United Kingdom in relation to offences against military law; the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Crown Court, the County Court, the magistrates' courts are administered by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the highest appeal court in all cases in England and Wales. Before the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 this role was held by the House of Lords; the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal for devolution matters, a role held by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The Supreme Court has a separate administration from the other courts of England and Wales, its administration is under a Chief Executive, appointed by the President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The Senior Courts of England and Wales were created by the Judicature Acts as the "Supreme Court of Judicature", it was renamed the "Supreme Court of England and Wales" in 1981, again to the "Senior Courts of England and Wales" by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. It consists of the following courts: Court of Appeal High Court of Justice Crown CourtThe Senior Courts of England and Wales, along with the Tribunals and other courts, are administered and supported by HM Courts and Tribunals Service; the Court of Appeal deals only with appeals from other tribunals. The Court of Appeal consists of two divisions: the Civil Division hears appeals from the High Court and County Court and certain superior tribunals, while the Criminal Division may only hear appeals from the Crown Court connected with a trial on indictment.
Its decisions are binding on all courts, including itself, apart from the Supreme Court. The High Court of Justice functions both as a civil court of first instance and a criminal and civil appellate court for cases from the subordinate courts, it consists of three divisions: the Chancery and the Family divisions. The divisions of the High Court are not separate courts, but have somewhat separate procedures and practices adapted to their purposes. Although particular kinds of cases will be assigned to each division depending on their subject matter, each division may exercise the jurisdiction of the High Court. However, beginning proceedings in the wrong division may result in a costs penalty; the formation of The Business and Property Courts of England & Wales within the High Court was announced in March 2017, launched in London in July 2017. The courts would in future administer the specialist jurisdictions, administered in the Queen's Bench Division under the names of the Admiralty Court, the Commercial Court, the Technology & Construction Court, under the Chancery Division's lists for Business and Insolvency, Intellectual Property and Trusts and Probate.
The Crown Court is a criminal court of both original and appellate jurisdiction which in addition handles a limited amount of civil business both at first instance and on appeal. It was established by the Courts Act 1971, it replaced the assizes whereby High Court judges would periodically travel around the country hearing cases, quarter sessions which were periodic county courts. The Old Bailey is the unofficial name of London's most famous criminal court, now part of the Crown Court, its official name is the "Central Criminal Court". The Crown Court hears appeals from magistrates' courts; the Crown Court is the only court in England and Wales that has the jurisdiction to try cases on indictment and when exercising such a role it is a superior court in that its judgments cannot be reviewed by the Administrative Court of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court. The Crown Court is an inferior court in respect of the other work it undertakes, viz. inter alia, appeals from the magistrates’ courts and other tribunals.
The most common subordinate courts in England and Wales are County Court Family Court Magistrates' courts Youth courts The County Court is a national court with a purely civil jurisdiction, sitting in 92 different towns and cities across England and Wales. As from 22 April 2014 there has been a single County Court for England and Wales where there was a series of courts; the County Court is so named after the ancient sheriff's court held in each county, but it has no connection with it nor indeed was the jurisdiction of the county courts based on counties. A County Court hearing is presided over by either a district or circuit judge and, except in a small minority of cases such as civil actions against the police, the judge sits alone as trier of fact and law without assistance from a jury; the old county courts' divorce and family jurisdiction was passed on 22 April 2014 to the single Family Court. Until unification in 2014, county courts were local courts in the sense that each one has an area over