At the opening of the Royal Courts of Justice in 1882 the Lord Chancellor, Lord Selborne, called a meeting of the judges to discuss his address to Queen Victoria on their behalf. When he read the phrase 'Your Majesty's judges are deeply sensible of their own many shortcomings', the Master of the Rolls, Lord Jessel, objected strongly, saying, 'I am not conscious of "many shortcomings", and if I were I should not be fit to sit on the bench'.
Classification of the civil jurisdiction:
The vast building of the Royal Courts of Justice, commonly known to lawyers as the RCJ, dominates the Strand in London like a Gothic cathedral. It was opened by Queen Victoria in December 1882. A court is simply a place where Justice is administered. There are over 80 courts in the RCJ. It is divided into 2 distinct Divisions – Criminal and Civil. Probably the most logical dividing line is between the criminal and the civil courts though in fact RCJ do both kind of work. The High Court has unlimited jurisdiction over all civil claims except those which legislation has directed to be heard by specialist tribunals. It is staffed by some 75 or so High Court judges who are also known as Puisne judges – pronounced 'puny' and meaning 'junior'. Their task is anything but 'puny', civil trials are conducted by these judges sitting alone.
By way of
Note: Appeals are indicated thus To enable the judges to specialize somewhat, the work of the Court is split into three divisions, Queen's Bench, Family and Chancery. In the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, which deals with the more serious tort cases and the larger money claims, the bulk of the cases which get as far as a trial are personal injury claims. Largest of the three divisions. Presided over by the Lord Chief Justice. First instance jurisdiction consists of:
- Contract actions;
- Tort actions.
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. They are wearing ceremonial court dress- wigs and gowns- intended as symbols of ancient dignity and the majesty of the law. In this atmosphere, tranquil and unruffled, it is difficult to believe that the business of the courts is often that of real human drama but the fact is that these very people- the judges and lawyers working together in this historic building.
The defendant's legal representative sat on the Judge's left and the plaintiff's representative on the right. The court officials – clerks, ushers and stenographers performed their duties so discreetly that it was easy to forget that they are there at all. They sat on the bench in front of the legal representative's. Members of the public who were seated in backbenchers were expected to remain still and listen to the proceedings in silence. Even those who were actually involved in a case, and their relatives and friends watching anxiously from the public gallery, were reduced to whispering.
Identification of the Litigants:
The litigants were not present, this was mainly due to the fact that the case was an appeal case. The way we that the applicant and defendant we identified was merely by the judge calling one side the applicant and the other the defence.
Fact of the Case:
This is a negligence of tort belonging to the civil liability area. The action has been brought by the applicant’s mother. The mother had been a patient at the hospital. Hours before giving labour the patient had complained of unbearable pain. The patient had informed on various occasion the midwives of the unbearable pain and bleeding. After a said period a doctor was finally notified on arrival the doctor did not takes proper note, did not monitored the patient or take necessary procedures, thus a caesarean was not performed and the child was born with complications leading to the child being mentally handicapped. The mother of the applicant was thus bringing pleadings to the court for negligence and seeking compensation.
Observation of the Case:
I was lucky enough to see at the very beginning of the case, which basically saw the Judge give 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.
Of all the types of work done by legal representatives, perhaps the best known is their courtroom skills. The legal representatives, along with the Judge struck me as remarkably young- looking. The parties have a different style, presenting and arguing the case in court. Especially, the defendant's representative advocacy was the art of persuasion. Like the skills of a fine musician, which involves natural talent, he put much hard work and immense thought and cares in the manner of his presentation. His advocacy was a great deal more than 'good talkers'. He was trying heart and soul to the changing fortunes of the case. And also tried to engage his tribunal in conversation.The aimed to get the Judge talking. I think that he could get his talking, so much the better. They both could go away feeling that the whole exercise had been a helpful and interesting interchange of ideas between lawyers, I think the case will not have been lost by his advocacy.
Expectation of the Paying Cost:
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.
Special Feature of the case:
The technical complexity of the case was that the defence doctor claimed that the patient was never in any pain or bleeding whiles the applicants expert witness claimed that even without the patients testimony, taking steps back from the point of birth, it was simple to see that the patient had been in extreme pain and bleeding. Thus the difference of opinion between the doctors show complexity
The finding s of my observations at The Royal Court of Justice during 3 hours, are quite clear to me. The court visit not only helped me to learn some of the new concepts but also helped to see the blend of theory with practice. The assignment mainly focuses on practical knowledge for the civil division of The Royal Court of Justice. It also attempts to discover the law student's view towards their High Courts.
TABLE OF CONTENT
1. Introduction 1
2. Classification of the civil jurisdiction 1
3. Initial Impression 3
4. Seating Arrangements 3
5. Identification of the litigants 4
6. Fact of the case 4
7. Observation of the Case 4
8. Advocacy Skills 5
9. Expectation of the paying cost 5
10. Special feature of the case 6
11. Conclusion 6
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4. Evans Keith, ‘ADVOCASY AT THE BAR’, Black Stone, 1985.
5. LAW CARDS, CAVENDISH, 2000.