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District court

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Title: District court  
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District court

District courts are a category of courts which exists in several nations. These include:

Allegheny General District Court, Covington, Virginia


  • Australia 1
  • Austria 2
  • Finland 3
  • Hong Kong 4
  • India 5
  • Indonesia 6
  • Ireland 7
  • Israel 8
  • Japan 9
  • New Zealand 10
  • Norway 11
  • Pakistan 12
  • Poland 13
  • Sweden 14
  • United Kingdom 15
  • United States 16
  • References 17
  • External links 18


District Court is the name given to the intermediate court in most Australian States. They hear indictable (serious) criminal offences excluding treason, murder and, in some States, manslaughter. Their civil jurisdiction is also intermediate, typically being for civil disputes where the amount claimed is greater than a $75 000 but less than $750 000.[1] The limits vary between Australian States. In Victoria, the equivalent Court is called the County Court.[2] Below them is the Magistrates' Courts, known as the Local Court in New South Wales. Above them are the State Supreme Courts.


Austria has some 200 district, or local, courts, which decide minor civil and criminal cases.


See also Judicial system of Finland

Finland has 27 district courts (käräjäoikeus/tingsrätt), which deal with criminal cases, civil cases and petitionary matters. Each court is headed by the Chief Judge and other District Judges. In certain cases, the district court may also have Lay Judges. The cases are handled and resolved either in a session or in chambers. In simple cases decisions can be made by notaries.

Hong Kong

The District Courts in Hong Kong, established in 1953, has limited jurisdiction in both civil and criminal matters. With effect from 1 December 2003, it has civil jurisdiction to hear monetary claims up to HK$1 million or, where the claims are for recovery of land, the annual rent or rateable value does not exceed HK$240,000. In its criminal jurisdiction, the court may try the more serious cases, with the main exceptions of murder, manslaughter and rape. The maximum term of imprisonment it may impose is seven years. There are one Chief District Judge and 30 District Judges, among which three District Judges sit in the Family Court and two District Judges sit in the Lands Tribunal as Presiding Officers.


The District Courts of India are presided over by a judge.[3] They administer justice in India at a district level. These courts are under administrative and judicial control of the High Court of the State to which the district concerned belongs.


The District Courts of Indonesia are part of public courts for all cases non-related to religion, constitutions or military matters. The decisions of guilt or innocence are made by a panel of three judges led by a chair judge.[4]


The District Court in Ireland was established in 1924. The Court handles civil claims of up to €6,350 and summary criminal trials (minor offences tried by a judge alone where the maximum penalty is 12 months on indictment in the Circuit Court and the granting of licences for the sale of alcohol.


The District Courts in Israel serve both as the appellate courts and also as the court of first instance for some cases (e.g. real estate or IP). As of 2007, there are six district courts:[5]


Japan has 50 district courts, one in each of the 47 prefectures and one in the 3 cities of Hakodate, Asahikawa and Kushiro. They are the first court level for most civil and criminal cases. Most cases are held with one judge.[6]

New Zealand

The District Courts of New Zealand deals with all criminal matters other than murder, manslaughter and specified offences such as treason.[7] The Courts can also hear civil claims up to $200,000. District Courts were called the Magistrates' Courts until 1980.


The Norwegian tingrett deals with criminal and civil cases.


The District Courts of Pakistan are presided over by a Senior judge. They administer justice in Pakistan at a district level. These courts are under administrative and judicial control of the High Court of the province to which the district concerned belongs.


District courts exist in Poland. See judiciary of Poland.


In Sweden, there are 48 district courts (Swedish: tingsrätt). It's the court of first instance; dealing with criminal cases, some civil law disputes and a number of non-contentious matters. Appeals against a district court are made to the appellate court (Swedish: hovrätt).[8]

United Kingdom

In Scotland, District Courts were introduced in 1975 as replacement for Burgh Police Courts; they dealt with the most minor crimes. They were run by the local authorities. Each court comprised one or more Justices of the Peace (lay magistrates) who sat alone or in threes with a qualified legal assessor as convener or clerk of court.

They handled many cases of breach of the peace, drunkenness, minor assaults, petty theft, and offences under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.

District Court operated under summary procedure and could not impose a fine in excess of £2,500 or sentence an offender to more than 60 days in prison. In practice, most offences were dealt with by a fine.

In Glasgow where the volume of business requires the employment of three solicitors as "stipendiary magistrates" who sit in place of the lay Justices. The Stipendiary Magistrates' court has the same sentencing power as the summary Sheriff Court.

District Courts in Scotland were abolished and replaced with Justice of the Peace Courts under the provisions of the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007. The Justice of the Peace Courts are managed by the Scottish Court Service. Responsibility for the Courts was transferred from the local authorities in a rolling programme of court unification which concluded in February 2010. District Courts were replaced by JP Courts in sheriffdoms as follows-

  • Sheriffdom of Lothian and Borders, 10 March 2008[9]
  • Sheriffdom of Grampian, Highlands and Islands, 2 June 2008[10]
  • Sheriffdom of Glasgow and Strathkelvin, 8 December 2008[11]
  • Sheriffdom of Tayside, Central and Fife, 23 February 2009[12]
  • Sheriffdom of North Strathclyde, 14 December 2009[13]
  • Sheriffdom of South Strathclyde, Dumfries & Galloway, 22 February 2010[14]

United States

In the United States federal courts, the United States district courts are the general trial courts. The federal district courts have jurisdiction over federal questions (trials and cases interpreting federal law, or which involve federal statutes or crimes) and diversity (cases otherwise subject to jurisdiction in a state trial court but which are between litigants of different states and/or countries). There are 89 federal districts in the 50 states. United States district courts also exist in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. So, in total, there are 94 U.S. district courts. Decisions from these courts are subject to review by one of the 13 United States court of appeals, which are, in turn, subject to review by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Some states maintain state courts called "district courts." In Florida, the Florida District Courts of Appeal are intermediate appellate courts. In Texas, the Texas District Courts are trial courts of general jurisdiction, hearing all felony and divorce cases, election controversies, and many civil matters. The Hawaii State District Courts, and those in Alaska, New York, and Kentucky, to name a few, are courts of limited jurisdiction.


  1. ^ "About the District Court". District Court of Western Australia. 
  2. ^ "Victorian County Court". County Court Victoria. 
  3. ^ "District Courts of India". Archived from the original on 2013-01-22. 
  4. ^ Lindsey, Tim. Indonesian Trial Process and Legal System Background Notes (PDF). University of Melbourne. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ "New District Court Opens: Central Region". Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  6. ^ The Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet The Japanese Judicial System July 1999 Retrieved on September 27, 2012
  7. ^ Criminal Procedure Act 1947 (NZ) ss 73-74
  8. ^ "District court".  
  9. ^ Bonnar, Gerard (25 February 2008). "Circular JD/1/2008: The Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 (Commencement No. 3 and Savings) Order 2008". The Scottish Government. 
  10. ^ Bonnar, Gerard (29 May 2008). "Criminal Justice Directorate Circular No: JD/5/2008: The Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 (Commencement No. 4) Order 2008". The Scottish Government. 
  11. ^ Bonnar, Gerard (24 November 2008). "Criminal Justice Directorate Circular JD/9/2008 The Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007 (Commencement No. 5) Order 2008". The Scottish Government. 
  12. ^ Bonnar, Gerard (10 February 2009). "JD Circular No. JD/2/2009 The Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform)(Scotland) Act 2007 (Commencement No. 6) Order 2008". The Scottish Government. 
  13. ^ The Justice of the Peace Courts (Sheriffdom of North Strathclyde) etc. Order 2009 SSI 2009/331
  14. ^ The Justice of the Peace Courts (Sheriffdom of South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway) etc. Order 2009 SSI 2009/332

External links

  • Finnish district courts
  • United States district courts
  • United States District Courts in each state
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