Court

Court

Overview

A court is a form of tribunal
Tribunal
A tribunal in the general sense is any person or institution with the authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is called a tribunal in its title....

, often a government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

al institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

, with the authority
Authority
The word Authority is derived mainly from the Latin word auctoritas, meaning invention, advice, opinion, influence, or command. In English, the word 'authority' can be used to mean power given by the state or by academic knowledge of an area .-Authority in Philosophy:In...

 to adjudicate
Adjudication
Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbiter or judge reviews evidence and argumentation including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants to come to a decision which determines rights and obligations between the parties involved....

 legal disputes between parties
Party (law)
A party is a person or group of persons that compose a single entity which can be identified as one for the purposes of the law. Parties include: plaintiff , defendant , petitioner , respondent , cross-complainant A party is a person or group of persons that compose a single entity which can be...

 and carry out the administration of justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 in civil
Private law
Private law is that part of a civil law legal system which is part of the jus commune that involves relationships between individuals, such as the law of contracts or torts, as it is called in the common law, and the law of obligations as it is called in civilian legal systems...

, criminal
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

, and administrative
Administrative law
Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government. Government agency action can include rulemaking, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. Administrative law is considered a branch of public law...

 matters in accordance with the rule of law
Rule of law
The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

. In both common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 and civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 legal systems, courts are the central means for dispute resolution
Dispute resolution
Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties.-Methods:Methods of dispute resolution include:* lawsuits * arbitration* collaborative law* mediation* conciliation* many types of negotiation* facilitation...

, and it is generally understood that all persons have an ability to bring their claims before a court. Similarly, the rights of those accused
Rights of the accused
The rights of the accused is a "class" of civil and political rights that apply to a person accused of a crime, from when he or she is arrested and charged to when he or she is either convicted or acquitted...

 of a crime include the right to present a defense before a court.

The system of courts that interpret and apply the law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 are collectively known as the judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

.
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Encyclopedia

A court is a form of tribunal
Tribunal
A tribunal in the general sense is any person or institution with the authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is called a tribunal in its title....

, often a government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

al institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

, with the authority
Authority
The word Authority is derived mainly from the Latin word auctoritas, meaning invention, advice, opinion, influence, or command. In English, the word 'authority' can be used to mean power given by the state or by academic knowledge of an area .-Authority in Philosophy:In...

 to adjudicate
Adjudication
Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbiter or judge reviews evidence and argumentation including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants to come to a decision which determines rights and obligations between the parties involved....

 legal disputes between parties
Party (law)
A party is a person or group of persons that compose a single entity which can be identified as one for the purposes of the law. Parties include: plaintiff , defendant , petitioner , respondent , cross-complainant A party is a person or group of persons that compose a single entity which can be...

 and carry out the administration of justice
Justice
Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

 in civil
Private law
Private law is that part of a civil law legal system which is part of the jus commune that involves relationships between individuals, such as the law of contracts or torts, as it is called in the common law, and the law of obligations as it is called in civilian legal systems...

, criminal
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

, and administrative
Administrative law
Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government. Government agency action can include rulemaking, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. Administrative law is considered a branch of public law...

 matters in accordance with the rule of law
Rule of law
The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...

. In both common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 and civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 legal systems, courts are the central means for dispute resolution
Dispute resolution
Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties.-Methods:Methods of dispute resolution include:* lawsuits * arbitration* collaborative law* mediation* conciliation* many types of negotiation* facilitation...

, and it is generally understood that all persons have an ability to bring their claims before a court. Similarly, the rights of those accused
Rights of the accused
The rights of the accused is a "class" of civil and political rights that apply to a person accused of a crime, from when he or she is arrested and charged to when he or she is either convicted or acquitted...

 of a crime include the right to present a defense before a court.

The system of courts that interpret and apply the law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 are collectively known as the judiciary
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

. The place where a court sits is known as a venue
Venue (law)
Venue is the location where a case is heard. In the United States, the venue is either a county or a district or division . Venue deals with locality of a lawsuit--that is, in which locale a lawsuit may be filed or commenced...

. The room where court proceedings occur is known as a courtroom
Courtroom
A courtroom is the actual enclosed space in which a judge regularly holds court.The schedule of official court proceedings is called a docket; the term is also synonymous with a court's caseload as a whole.-Courtroom design:-United States:...

, and the building as a courthouse
Courthouse
A courthouse is a building that is home to a local court of law and often the regional county government as well, although this is not the case in some larger cities. The term is common in North America. In most other English speaking countries, buildings which house courts of law are simply...

; court facilities range from simple and very small facilities in rural communities to large buildings in cities.

The practical authority given to the court is known as its jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

 (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 jus dicere) -- the court's power to decide certain kinds of questions or petitions put to it. According to William Blackstone
William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...

's Commentaries on the Laws of England
Commentaries on the Laws of England
The Commentaries on the Laws of England are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1769...

,
a court is constituted by a minimum of three parties: the actor or plaintiff
Plaintiff
A plaintiff , also known as a claimant or complainant, is the term used in some jurisdictions for the party who initiates a lawsuit before a court...

, who complains of an injury
Injury
-By cause:*Traumatic injury, a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident*Other injuries from external physical causes, such as radiation injury, burn injury or frostbite*Injury from infection...

 done; the reus or defendant
Defendant
A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

, who is called upon to make satisfaction for it, and the judex or judicial power, which is to examine the truth of the fact, to determine the law arising upon that fact, and, if any injury appears to have been done, to ascertain and by its officers
Officer of the court
The generic term officer of the court applies to all those who, in some degree in function of their professional or similar qualifications, have a legal part—and hence legal and deontological obligations—in the complex functioning of the judicial system as a whole, in order to forge justice out of...

 to apply a legal remedy
Legal remedy
A legal remedy is the means with which a court of law, usually in the exercise of civil law jurisdiction, enforces a right, imposes a penalty, or makes some other court order to impose its will....

. It is also usual in the superior courts to have attorneys, and advocates or counsel, as assistants, though, often, courts consist of additional attorneys, bailiff
Bailiff
A bailiff is a governor or custodian ; a legal officer to whom some degree of authority, care or jurisdiction is committed...

s, reporters, and perhaps a jury.

The term "the court" is also used to refer to the presiding officer
Presiding Officer
In a general sense, presiding officer is synonymous with chairman.* The presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives is the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives...

 or officials, usually one or more judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

s. The judge or panel of judges may also be collectively referred to as "the bench
Bench (law)
Bench in legal contexts means simply the location in a courtroom where a judge sits. The historical roots of that meaning come from the fact that judges formerly sat on long seats or benches when presiding over a court...

" (in contrast to attorney
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

s and barrister
Barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

s, collectively referred to as "the bar
Bar (law)
Bar in a legal context has three possible meanings: the division of a courtroom between its working and public areas; the process of qualifying to practice law; and the legal profession.-Courtroom division:...

"). In the United States, and other common law jurisdictions, the term "court" (in the case of U.S. federal courts) by law is used to describe the judge himself or herself.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the legal authority of a court to take action is based on personal jurisdiction, subject-matter jurisdiction
Subject-matter jurisdiction
Subject-matter jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. For instance, bankruptcy court only has the authority to hear bankruptcy cases....

, and venue over the parties to the litigation.

Etymology


The word cour comes from the French court, an enclosed yard, which derives from the Latin form cortem, the accusative case of cohors, which again means an enclosed yard or the occupants of such a yard. The words yard, court, and Latin hortus (meaning "garden," hence horticulture and orchard), are cognates—all referring to an enclosed space.

The meaning of a judicial assembly is first attested in the 12th century, and derives from the earlier usage to designate a sovereign and his entourage, which met to adjudicate disputes in such an enclosed yard. The verb "to court", meaning to win favor, derives from the same source since people traveled to the sovereign's court to win his favor.

Jurisdiction


Jurisdiction, means "to speak the law," is the power of a court over a person or a claim. In the United States, a court must have both personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. Each state establishes a court system for the territory under its control. This system allocates work to courts or authorized individuals by granting both civil and criminal jurisdiction
Criminal jurisdiction
Criminal jurisdiction is a term used in constitutional law and public law to describe the power of courts to hear a case brought by a state accusing a defendant of the commission of a crime...

 (in the United States, this is termed subject-matter jurisdiction). The grant of power to each category of court or individual may stem from a provision of a written constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 or from an enabling statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

. In English law
English law
English law is the legal system of England and Wales, and is the basis of common law legal systems used in most Commonwealth countries and the United States except Louisiana...

, jurisdiction may be inherent
Inherent jurisdiction
Inherent jurisdiction is a doctrine of the English common law that a superior court has the jurisdiction to hear any matter that comes before it, unless a statute or rule limits that authority or grants exclusive jurisdiction to some other court or tribunal...

, deriving from the common law origin of the particular court.

Trial and appellate courts


Trial court
Trial court
A trial court or court of first instance is a court in which trials take place. Such courts are said to have original jurisdiction.- In the United States :...

s are courts that hold trial
Trial
A trial is, in the most general sense, a test, usually a test to see whether something does or does not meet a given standard.It may refer to:*Trial , the presentation of information in a formal setting, usually a court...

s. Sometimes termed "courts of first instance," trial courts have original jurisdiction
Original jurisdiction
The original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a court has the power to review a lower court's decision.-France:...

 over most cases. Trial courts may conduct trials with juries are the finders of fact
Trier of fact
A trier of fact is a person, or group of persons, who determines facts in a legal proceeding, usually a trial. To determine a fact is to decide, from the evidence, whether something existed or some event occurred.-Juries:...

 (these are known as jury trial
Jury trial
A jury trial is a legal proceeding in which a jury either makes a decision or makes findings of fact which are then applied by a judge...

s) or trials in which judges act as both finders of fact and finders of law
Question of law
In jurisprudence, a question of law is a question which must be answered by applying relevant legal principles, by an interpretation of the law. Such a question is distinct from a question of fact, which must be answered by reference to facts and evidence, and inferences arising from those facts...

 (these are known as bench trial
Bench trial
A bench trial is a trial held before a judge sitting without a jury. The term is chiefly used in common law jurisdictions to describe exceptions from jury trial, as most other legal systems do not use juries to any great extent....

s). Juries are less common in court systems outside the Anglo-American
Anglosphere
Anglosphere is a neologism which refers to those nations with English as the most common language. The term can be used more specifically to refer to those nations which share certain characteristics within their cultures based on a linguistic heritage, through being former British colonies...

 common law tradition.

Appellate court
Appellate court
An appellate court, commonly called an appeals court or court of appeals or appeal court , is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal...

s are courts that hear appeal
Appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

s of lower courts and trial courts.

Civil law courts and common law courts


The two major models for courts are the civil law courts and the common law courts. Civil law courts are based upon the judicial system in France, while the common law courts are based on the judicial system in England. In most civil law jurisdictions, courts function under an inquisitorial system
Inquisitorial system
An inquisitorial system is a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case, as opposed to an adversarial system where the role of the court is primarily that of an impartial referee between the prosecution and the defense...

. In the common law system, most courts follow the adversarial system
Adversarial system
The adversarial system is a legal system where two advocates represent their parties' positions before an impartial person or group of people, usually a jury or judge, who attempt to determine the truth of the case...

. Procedural law
Procedural law
Procedural law or adjective law comprises the rules by which a court hears and determines what happens in civil lawsuit, criminal or administrative proceedings. The rules are designed to ensure a fair and consistent application of due process or fundamental justice to all cases that come before...

 governs the rules by which courts operate: civil procedure
Civil procedure
Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits...

 for private disputes (for example); and criminal procedure
Criminal procedure
Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated criminal law.-Basic rights:Currently, in many countries with a democratic system and the rule of law, criminal procedure puts the burden of proof on the prosecution – that is, it is up to the...

 for violation of the criminal law.

General

  • Tribunal
    Tribunal
    A tribunal in the general sense is any person or institution with the authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is called a tribunal in its title....

  • Sanctions (law)
    Sanctions (law)
    Sanctions are penalties or other means of enforcement used to provide incentives for obedience with the law, or with rules and regulations. Criminal sanctions can take the form of serious punishment, such as corporal or capital punishment, incarceration, or severe fines...

  • International judicial institution
    International judicial institution
    International judicial institutions can be divided into courts, arbitral tribunals and quasi-judicial institutions. Courts are permanent bodies, with near the same composition for each case. Arbitral tribunals, by contrast, are constituted anew for each case. Both courts and arbitral tribunals can...

  • International Criminal Court
    International Criminal Court
    The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...


Types and organization of courts

  • Appellate court
    Appellate court
    An appellate court, commonly called an appeals court or court of appeals or appeal court , is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal...

  • Administrative court
    Administrative court
    Greece, as a civil law country has administrative courts. The establishment of those courts can be found in article 94 of the Constitution of the Hellenic Republic 1975, as revised in 2001. The administrative courts are composed from districts Courts of First Instance, district Courts of Appeal and...

  • Constitutional court
  • Court of Faculties
    Court of Faculties
    Under English ecclesiastical law, the Court of Faculties is a tribunal of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is attached to the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury....

  • Court-martial
    Court-martial
    A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

  • Courts of England and Wales
    Courts of England and Wales
    Her Majesty's Courts of Justice of England and Wales are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in England and Wales; they apply the law of England and Wales and are established under Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.The United Kingdom does not have...

  • Ecclesiastical court
    Ecclesiastical court
    An ecclesiastical court is any of certain courts having jurisdiction mainly in spiritual or religious matters. In the Middle Ages in many areas of Europe these courts had much wider powers than before the development of nation states...

  • Equity court
  • Family court
    Family court
    A family court is a court convened to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law, such as custody of children. In common-law jurisdictions "family courts" are statutory creations primarily dealing with equitable matters devolved from a court of inherent jurisdiction, such as a...

  • High Court of Justiciary
    High Court of Justiciary
    The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court of Scotland.The High Court is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal. As a court of first instance, the High Court sits mainly in Parliament House, or in the former Sheriff Court building, in Edinburgh, but also sits from time...

  • Revolutionary Tribunal
    Revolutionary Tribunal
    The Revolutionary Tribunal was a court which was instituted in Paris by the Convention during the French Revolution for the trial of political offenders, and eventually became one of the most powerful engines of the Reign of Terror....

     (French Revolution
    French Revolution
    The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

    )
  • Scots Law
    Scots law
    Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is considered a hybrid or mixed legal system as it traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. With English law and Northern Irish law it forms the legal system of the United Kingdom; it shares with the two other systems some...

  • Scottish Court Service
    Scottish Court Service
    The Scottish Court Service is the body which is responsible for the administration of the Court system in Scotland. The Service employs over 1000 staff members in Scotland's 49 Sheriff Courts, the Court of Session and the High Court of Justiciary, Justice of the Peace Courts and at the Service's HQ...

  • Supreme court
    Supreme court
    A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, instance court, judgment court, high court, or apex court...

  • Trial court
    Trial court
    A trial court or court of first instance is a court in which trials take place. Such courts are said to have original jurisdiction.- In the United States :...


External links