The ability of an individual to obtain justice through their national court is one of many barometers used when assessing the democratic index of a country. An independent Judiciary (legal system) is paramount to any country seeking the moniker of Democracy.
The United Kingdom
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) is responsible for managing the entire UK court system. The Ministry of Justice (government department) has oversight of HMCTS.
There are 2 main branches of the UK court system – Civil and Criminal. Debt recovery falls under Civil and fraud falls under Criminal.
Civil Courts include County Court, High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court.
Criminal Courts include Magistrates’ Courts, Crown Court, Court of Appeal.
The Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations (used by Advocate) applies to England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland. There are subtle terminology differences when recovering payment from a business in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Scotland: the equivalent County Court Judgment (CCJ) is called a Decree. Decrees are processed through the Sheriff Courts.
Northern Ireland: for lower value debt, CCJ and County Court are interchangeable with Decree and Civil Processing Centre respectively. Larger value Decrees are referred to as Civil Bills or Writ of Summons. The Enforcement of Judgement Office is the equivalent of a bailiff.
The British Isles and Crown Dependencies
Within the British Isles, there are 3 Crown Dependencies. The islands are self-governing with their own courts and legislation. The islands are linked to the mainland through the Crown/Monarch and not through Parliament. However, the UK government is responsible for the military defence of the islands. Crown Dependencies do not subscribe to the same legislation & protocols so The Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations cannot be applied.
Bailiwick of Guernsey: a series of inhabited and uninhabited islands where the Royal Court of Guernsey is the head of the entire legislative system. A Petty Debt Claim in the Magistrate’s Court is the Guernsey equivalent of issuing a Claim in the County Court. More information via www.guernseyroyalcourt.gg
Bailiwick of Jersey: contains a number of uninhabited islands in addition to Jersey which is home to more than 100,000 people. The Royal Court of Jersey is the head of the entire legislative system. A Summons issued through the Magistrate’s Court Greffe is the equivalent of a UK court claim being issued. If the summons is not paid, it will proceed to the Jersey Petty Debts Court (equivalent hearing in the County Court). More information via www.jerseylaw.je
Isle of Man: situated nearly equidistant from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland in the Irish sea. The Isle of Man Courts of Justice is the head of the entire legislative system. It is split into High and Lower Courts. Much like the UK, a Judgment can be obtained through The Small Claims Court (SCC). Contrary to the UK court structure, the SCC can be found in the High Court under the Civil Division. More information via www.courts.im
Europe & Rest of World
If both creditor and debtor are registered within the EU, the European E-Justice portal provides a similar structure to the UK County Court process.
Across the world, there is inevitably a wide variety of court systems and procedures. There is no one size fits all solution.
The Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations only applies to the UK. However, there are a number of organisations using country-specific legislation to recover non-UK based debt. Most include one or more of Crown Dependencies, Europe or the rest of the world. A search for ‘international debt recovery’ may provide some suitable firms.