Criminal Law-Magistrates’ Court Visit

Thames Magistrates’ Court

What struck you

Since I entered in the Court building through the metal detectors door, my eyes at first glance caught the attention of the people in the queue waiting to pay their fines. The payment office was fortified with thick glass and a sign was displayed at entrance stating ‘our staff have the right to perform their duties without harassment’. This was a good indication that tensions did or would arise on occasions.

Type of Proceedings:

There were several cases to be heard on the courtroom on that day where our group was attended. In particular, a young man was charged with two separate offences of driving under Section 5(1) Road Traffic Act 1988, (a) attempting to drive, and (b) being in charge of a vehicle, each with an alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit in relation to his breath.

Stage of Proceedings

Our group observed both the Prosecution and the Defence part


The Crown Prosecutor in my opinion was fluent and articulate enough to get her point across. Despite the numerous folders she seemed adequately prepared for the case and seemed well versed in her profession. She did however lack the accustomed adversarial aggression or possibly possessed a different style but nonetheless executed her job professionally. The Defendant was not represented, but it seemed that he defended himself very well.

The only point I have noticed on the hectoring the witness was that the magistrate was not very positive. When he gave the judgment was not seemed very vocal, overall he would have little or nothing to say.


Defendant was sentenced through fine.

This was the second times he was convicted for similar offence.

I have noticed that the magistrates court handle as many cases as possible every day to speed up the judiciary system.

It was interesting talking to the magistrate afterwards. He shared his intellectual view regarding the litigation process in the magistrates’ court in this country.

Central Criminal Court:

I had never been to the Central Criminal Court before. I was really struck to see the environment and the lawyers of the court by comparing with the magistrates’ court. I found the court itself is very well organized and has got very strict security system.


This was a murder trial .by Jury

Stage Proceedings

I had observed the case when the prosecution handling the witness part.


Initially, I found the prosecution counsel was well prepared in that he knew the case facts well and demonstrated a very sure grasp of the facts of the case and hardly seemed to need to refer to notes. He was also very confident and clear when dealing with the legal principles involved.

Counsel’s questioning techniques overall were very impressive and effective although some of the questions were very long and seemed witnesses had trouble following them. He however did manage to get the whole facts out from the witness and didn’t face any bar to establish his case.


My personal view regarding the trial by jury in a criminal litigation is more expensive and less effective to achieve the justice. It takes longer time than usual.

Counsel often seemed to concentrate to get the Jurors attention by showing the photographs and some other evidential identification, which was quite impressive.

The Royal Court of Justice:

My initial impression was that the courts were very busy. The beautiful old courts lead off the Hall. The entrance takes me straight into the great Central hall. The Hall is impressive for its size and intricate mosaic floor. Once I enter their public galleries I might have the impression that some of these portraits have come to life. Judges long forgotten look down from huge portraits, which line the walks, or gaze from marble plinths in stony silence.


This was an appeal case in the area of clinical negligence in tort belonging to the civil liability. The action had brought by the applicant’s mother due to the hospital’s negligence failing to take reasonable care, seeking compensation.

Stage of Proceedings:

I was lucky enough to see from the very beginning of the case, which was basically the Judge had given permission to start claimant's version of the case. I was present the whole of the claimant’s case, including the cross-examination, after which the case was adjourned until Thursday.


Especially, the defendant's counsel’s advocacy was the art of persuasion, which involves natural talent and skills; he put much hard work and immense thought and cares in the manner of his presentation.The case was adjourned until Thursday.Litigants were not present. The action was funded by legal aid. The plaintiff was ready to produce the sufficient evidence against the case. When the Judge ruled in favour of the defendant, it was stated that the plaintiff possibility to loss the case. But the Judge explained the reasons and read a written statement on which all the facts of the case were explained in detail, and produced the decision that it will continue on next Thursday. So, I can’t predict about the gaining party of the case. However, it is a civil claim the losing side pays all legal cost including the defendants.