Sometimes inaccurately referred to as the Small Claims Court, County Courts deal with civil matters including all monetary claims up to £50,000. Many County Courts have extra powers which enable them to deal with divorce and other family proceedings, bankruptcy actions, matters relating to children and cases involving ships and boats known as admiralty actions. Some County Courts are also branch offices of the High Court known as district registries.
County Courts are broken into two divisions:
County Court – Civil
Civil cases involve hearings in open court which the public may attend, hearings in the judge’s private room from which the public are excluded, and matters decided by the judge in private but on the basis of the papers alone, without any attendances by the parties or their legal representatives.
County Court – Family
The family courts deal mainly with two sorts of work – private cases involving parents and their children, and public work when local councils take action to remove children from their parents’ care because they are being hurt in some way.