Introduction to civil proceedings in England

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English civil law essentially comprises legislation by Parliament and decisions by the courts. There is no civil code. English courts may not override acts of Parliament and are usually required to follow decisions on the same legal issue by a court of equivalent or higher status. Legislation and decisions of the courts are subject also to European Union legislation and judgments issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In civil matters, jurisdiction is divided between the High Court and the county courts, according to the size and complexity of the claim. This note is principally concerned with procedure in the High Court. 

The High Court is divided into three divisions: Chancery, Queens Bench and Family (family proceedings are beyond the remit of this note). 

The Chancery Division deals with companies generally and such specialist matters as wills, trusts, insolvency, tax, copyright, trade marks and patents (the latter in a separate court called the Patents Court)…

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