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A lower court or inferior court is a
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in acco ...
from which an
appeal 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 ...
may be taken, usually referring to courts other than
supreme 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 of ...
. In relation to an appeal from one court to another, the lower court is the court whose decision is being reviewed, which may be the original
trial court 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). Mos ...
or some of
appellate court 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 of ...
lower in rank than the
supreme 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 of ...
which is hearing the appeal. In other words, lower courts are 'lower' in hierarchical chain of appellate procedure than other higher
appellate courts 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 of ...
. Usually it is obligation of a lower court to follow the decision of higher appellate court, even in civil law countries where precedents have no binding power.


See also

Some of common law countries use term 'lower court' or 'inferior court' as antonym for '
superior court In common law systems, a superior court is a court of general jurisdiction over civil and criminal legal cases. A superior court is "superior" in relation to a court with limited jurisdiction (see small claims court), which is restricted to civi ...
', meaning such lower courts have only
limited jurisdiction Limited jurisdiction, or special jurisdiction, is the court's jurisdiction only on certain types of cases such as bankruptcy, and family matters. Courts of limited jurisdiction, as opposed to general jurisdiction, derive power from an issuing auth ...
according to importance of case (usually decided by monetary amount of claims). For information on this kind of courts, see Small claims court and
superior court In common law systems, a superior court is a court of general jurisdiction over civil and criminal legal cases. A superior court is "superior" in relation to a court with limited jurisdiction (see small claims court), which is restricted to civi ...
. *
Magistrates' court A magistrates' court is a lower court where, in several jurisdictions, all criminal proceedings start. Also some civil matters may be dealt with here, such as family proceedings. Courts * Magistrates' court (England and Wales) * Magistrate's Cou ...
* Provincial and territorial courts in Canada * Lower Courts of Namibia * Lower court of San Marino *
Inferior courts of the United States The courts of the United States are closely linked hierarchical systems of courts at the federal and state levels. The federal courts form the judicial branch of the US government and operate under the authority of the United States Constitution a ...


References

{{Authority control Courts by type