A court is any person or institution, often as a
A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state.
In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government i ... institution
Institutions are humanly devised structures of rules and norms that shape and constrain individual behavior. All definitions of institutions generally entail that there is a level of persistence and continuity. Laws, rules, social conventions a ...
, with the
In the fields of sociology and political science, authority is the legitimate power of a person or group over other people. In a civil state, ''authority'' is practiced in ways such a judicial branch or an executive branch of government.''The ...
A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court, or by some equivalent legal process. A legal case is typically based on either civil or criminal law. In most legal cases there are one or ...
A party is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation, recreation, or as part of a festival or other commemoration or celebration of a special occasion. A party will often feature f ...
and carry out the
administration of justice
The administration of justice is the process by which the legal system of a government is executed. The presumed goal of such an administration is to provide justice for all those accessing the legal system. The phrase is also commonly used to d ...
, and administrative
matters in accordance with the
rule of law
The rule of law is the political philosophy that all citizens and institutions within a country, state, or community are accountable to the same laws, including lawmakers and leaders. The rule of law is defined in the ''Encyclopedia Britannic ...
In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omniprese ...
and civil law
The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems: civil law, common law, statutory law, religious law or combinations of these. However, the legal system of each country is shaped by its unique history a ...
s, courts are the central means for dispute resolution
, and it is generally understood that all people have an ability to bring their claims before a court. Similarly, the rights of those accused
of a crime include the right to present a
Defense or defence may refer to:
Tactical, martial, and political acts or groups
* Defense (military), forces primarily intended for warfare
* Civil defense, the organizing of civilians to deal with emergencies or enemy attacks
* Defense industr ...
before a court.
The system of courts that interprets and applies the law
is collectively known as the
The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of courts that adjudicates legal disputes/disagreements and interprets, defends, and applies the law ...
. The place where a court sits is known as a
Venue is the location at which an event takes place. It may refer to:
* Venue (law), the place a case is heard
* Financial trading venue, a place or system where financial transactions can occur
* Music venue, place used for a conce ...
. The room where court proceedings occur is known as a
A courtroom is the enclosed space in which courts of law are held in front of a judge. A number of courtrooms, which may also be known as "courts", may be housed in a courthouse. In recent years, courtrooms have been equipped with audiovisual ...
, and the building as a
A courthouse or court house is a building that is home to a local court of law and often the regional county government as well, although this is not the case in some larger cities. The term is common in North America. In most other English-s ...
; court facilities range from simple and very small facilities in rural communities to large complex facilities in urban communities.
The practical authority given to the court is known as its
Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels.
(from Latin , from , "of the law
," + , "to declare," + , ''noun-forming suffix''), the court's power to decide certain kinds of questions or petitions put to it. According to
Sir William Blackstone (10 July 1723 – 14 February 1780) was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the ''Commentaries on the Laws of England''. Born into a middle-class family ...
Commentaries on the Laws of England
The ''Commentaries on the Laws of England'' are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1770. The work is divided into four volu ...
,'' a court (for civil wrongs
) is constituted by a minimum of three parties: the or
A plaintiff ( Π in legal shorthand) is the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an ''action'') before a court. By doing so, the plaintiff seeks a legal remedy. If this search is successful, the court will issue judgment in favor of t ...
, who complains of an injury done; the or
In court proceedings, a defendant is a person or object who is the party either accused of committing a crime in criminal prosecution or against whom some type of civil relief is being sought in a civil case.
Terminology varies from one jur ...
, who is called upon to make satisfaction for it; and the or judicial power, who is to examine the truth of the fact, determine the law arising upon that fact, and, if any injury appears to have been done, ascertain and by its
An officer is a person who has a position of authority in a hierarchical organization. The term derives from Old French ''oficier'' "officer, official" (early 14c., Modern French ''officier''), from Medieval Latin ''officiarius'' "an officer," ...
A legal remedy, also referred to as judicial relief or a judicial remedy, is the means with which a court of law, usually in the exercise of civil law jurisdiction, enforces a right, imposes a penalty, or makes another court order to impose it ...
. It is also usual in the superior courts to have barristers, and attorneys or counsel, as assistants, though, often, courts consist of additional barristers,
A bailiff (from Middle English baillif, Old French ''baillis'', ''bail'' "custody") is a manager, overseer or custodian – a legal officer to whom some degree of authority or jurisdiction is given. Bailiffs are of various kinds and their of ...
, and perhaps a jury.
The term "the court" is also used to refer to the presiding officer
or officials, usually one or more
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel of judges. A judge hears all the witnesses and any other evidence presented by the barristers or solicitors of the case, assesses the credibility ...
s. The judge or panel of judges may also be collectively referred to as "the bench
" (in contrast to attorneys
A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialise in courtroom advocacy and litigation. Their tasks include taking cases in superior courts and tribunals, drafting legal pleadings, researching law a ...
s, collectively referred to as "the bar
In the United States, the legal authority of a court to take action is based on personal jurisdiction
over the parties to the litigation and subject-matter jurisdiction
over the claims asserted.
The word ''court'' comes from the French , an enclosed yard, which derives from the Latin form , the accusative case of , which again means an enclosed yard or the occupants of such a yard. The English word ''court'' is a cognate of the Latin word from Ancient Greek () (meaning "garden", hence horticulture and orchard), both referring to an enclosed space.
The meaning of a judicial assembly is first attested in the 12th century, and derives from the earlier usage to designate a sovereign and his entourage, which met to adjudicate disputes in such an enclosed yard. The verb "to court", meaning to win favor, derives from the same source since people traveled to the sovereign's court to win his favor.
Jurisdiction is defined as the official authority to make legal decisions and judgements over a person or material item within a territory.
"Whether a given court has jurisdiction to preside over a given case" is a key question in any legal action.
Legal Information Institute
The Legal Information Institute (LII) is a non-profit, public service of Cornell Law School that provides no-cost access to current American and international legal research sources online alaw.cornell.edu The organization is a pioneer in the de ..., Cornell Law School.
Three basic components of jurisdiction are personal jurisdiction
over an individual or thing (), jurisdiction over the particular subject matter ( subject-matter jurisdiction
A jurisdiction is an area with a set of laws under the control of a system of courts or government entity which are different from neighbouring areas.
Each state in a federation such as Australia, Germany and the United States forms a separ ...
Jurisdiction over a person refers to the full authority over a person regardless on where they live, jurisdiction over a particular subject matter refers to the authority over the said subject of legal cases involved in a case, and lastly territorial jurisdiction is the authority over a person within an x amount of space.
Other concepts of jurisdiction include general jurisdiction
, exclusive jurisdiction
, appellate jurisdiction
, and (in the
United States federal courts
The federal judiciary of the United States is one of the three branches of the federal government of the United States organized under the United States Constitution and laws of the federal government. The U.S. federal judiciary consists primar ...
In the law of the United States, diversity jurisdiction is a form of subject-matter jurisdiction that gives U.S. federal courts the power to hear lawsuits that do not involve a federal question. For a U.S. federal court to have diversity jurisd ...
Trial and appellate courts
A trial court or court of first instance is a court having original jurisdiction, in which trials take place. Appeals from the decisions of trial courts are usually made by higher courts with the power of appellate review (appellate courts). Mo ...
s are courts that hold
In law, a trial is a coming together of parties to a dispute, to present information (in the form of evidence) in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to adjudicate claims or disputes. One form of tribunal is a court. The tribunal ...
s. Sometimes termed "courts of first instance", trial courts have varying original jurisdiction
. Trial courts may conduct trials with juries as the finders of fact
(these are known as
A jury trial, or trial by jury, is a legal proceeding in which a jury makes a decision or findings of fact. It is distinguished from a bench trial in which a judge or panel of judges makes all decisions.
Jury trials are used in a signific ...
s) or trials in which judges act as both finders of fact and finders of law
(in some jurisdictions these are known as bench trial
s). Juries are less common in court systems outside the Anglo-American
common law tradition.
A court of appeals, also called a court of appeal, appellate court, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In much o ...
s are courts that hear
In law, an appeal is the process in which cases are reviewed by a higher authority, where parties request a formal change to an official decision. Appeals function both as a process for error correction as well as a process of clarifying and ...
s of lower courts and trial courts.
Some courts, such as the Crown Court
in England and Wales may have both trial and appellate jurisdictions.
Civil law courts and common law courts
The two major legal traditions of the western world are the civil law courts and the common law courts. These two great legal traditions are similar, in that they are products of western culture although there are significant differences between the two traditions. Civil law courts are profoundly based upon Roman Law, specifically a civil body of law entitled " Corpus iuris civilis
This theory of civil law was rediscovered around the end of the eleventh century and became a foundation for university legal education starting in Bologna, Italy and subsequently being taught throughout continental European Universities.
Civil law is firmly ensconced in the French and German legal systems. Common law courts were established by English royal judges of the King's Council after the Norman Invasion of Britain in 1066.
The royal judges created a body of law by combining local customs they were made aware of through traveling and visiting local jurisdictions.
This common standard of law became known as "Common Law". This legal tradition is practiced in the English and American legal systems. In most civil law jurisdictions, courts function under an inquisitorial system
. In the common law system, most courts follow the
The adversarial system or adversary system is a legal system used in the common law countries where two advocates represent their parties' case or position before an impartial person or group of people, usually a judge or jury, who attempt to dete ...
Procedural law, adjective law, in some jurisdictions referred to as remedial law, or rules of court, comprises the rules by which a court hears and determines what happens in civil, lawsuit, criminal or administrative proceedings. The rules ar ...
governs the rules by which courts operate:
Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits (as opposed to procedures in criminal law matters). These rules govern how a lawsuit or case may be commenced; what kin ...
for private disputes (for example); and
Criminal procedure is the adjudication process of the criminal law. While criminal procedure differs dramatically by jurisdiction, the process generally begins with a formal criminal charge with the person on trial either being free on bail or ...
for violation of the criminal law. In recent years international courts are being created to resolve matters not covered by the jurisdiction of national courts. For example, The International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, in The Kingdom of The Netherlands or The Court of Permanent Lok Adalat (Public Utility Services), based in India.
Court television shows
Television show courts, which are not part of the judicial system and are generally private arbitrators
, are depicted within the court show
genre; however, the courts depicted have been criticized as misrepresenting real-life courts of law and the true nature of the legal system.
Notable court shows include:
* '' Caso Cerrado
''Judge Judy'' is an American arbitration-based reality court show presided over by former Manhattan Family Court Judge Judith Sheindlin. The show featured Sheindlin as she adjudicated real-life small-claims disputes within a simulated cour ...
''Lauren Lake's Paternity Court'' (originally known as Paternity Court) is a nontraditional court show in which family lawyer and legal analyst Lauren Lake heard and ruled on paternity cases and rendered DNA test results.
The show was produce ...
The People's Court
''The People's Court'' is an American arbitration-based reality court show, featuring an arbitrator handling small claims disputes in a simulated courtroom set. Within the court show genre, it is the first of all arbitration-based reality st ...
* '' Judge Mathis
* '' Judge Alex
* '' Judge Joe Brown
Eye for an Eye
"An eye for an eye" ( hbo, עַיִן תַּחַת עַיִן, ) is a commandment found in the Book of Exodus 21:23–27 expressing the principle of reciprocal justice measure for measure. The principle exists also in Babylonian law.
In Roman c ...
* '' Judge Rinder
* '' Ace Attorney
* '' Adaalat
* International judicial institution
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice (ICJ; french: Cour internationale de justice, links=no; ), sometimes known as the World Court, is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN). It settles disputes between states in accordanc ...
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal seated in The Hague, Netherlands. It is the first and only permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals ...
International Court of Arbitration
ICC International Court of Arbitration is an institution for the resolution of international commercial disputes. It operates under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce and consists of more than 100 arbitrators from roughly 90 c ...
Types and organization of courts
* Administrative court
* Constitutional court
* Commercial Court (disambiguation)
* Court of Faculties
* Court of record
A court-martial or court martial (plural ''courts-martial'' or ''courts martial'', as "martial" is a postpositive adjective) is a military court or a trial conducted in such a court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of mem ...
An ecclesiastical court, also called court Christian or court spiritual, is any of certain courts having jurisdiction mainly in spiritual or religious matters. In the Middle Ages, these courts had much wider powers in many areas of Europe than ...
* Equity court
* Extraordinary court
Family courts were originally created to be a Court of Equity convened to decide matters and make orders in relation to family law, including custody of children, and could disregard certain legal requirements as long as the petitioner/plaintiff ...
A lower court or inferior court is a court from which an appeal may be taken, usually referring to courts other than supreme court. In relation to an appeal from one court to another, the lower court is the court whose decision is being review ...
* Ordinary court
* Specialized court
A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in most legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and high (or final) court of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions ...
* Kangaroo court