Legal Dictionary

Crown Court

Definition of Crown Court

Further reading

The Crown Court of England and Wales is, together with the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal, one of the constituent parts of the Senior Courts of England and Wales. It is the higher court of first instance in criminal cases; however, for some purposes the Crown Court is hierarchically subordinate to the High Court and its Divisional Courts. It sits in around 90 locations in England and Wales. Previously divided into six circuits - Midland, Northern, North Eastern, South Eastern, Wales & Chester and Western - it is now divided into seven regions - Midlands, North East, North West, South East, South West, London and Wales. The Wales region was added to enforce the new law creating powers formed by use of the Welsh Assembly Government [1]. The Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey), which was originally established by its own Act of Parliament, is now part of the Crown Court, and is one of the main criminal courts in London.

The Crown Court carries out four principal types of activity: appeals from decisions of magistrates; sentencing of defendants committed from magistrates' courts, jury trials, and the sentencing of those who are convicted in the Crown Court, either after trial or on pleading guilty. On average, defendants in custody face a waiting time of 13 weeks and 3 days. Those on bail experience greater delay, waiting on average 15 weeks and 4 days until their case is heard.


The Judges who normally sit in the Crown Court are High Court Judges, Circuit Judges and Recorders. Circuit Judges also sit in the County Court. Recorders are Barristers or Solicitors in private practice, who sit part time as Judges. The most serious cases (treason, murder, rape etc.) are allocated to High Court Judges and Senior Circuit Judges. The remainder are dealt with by Circuit Judges and Recorders, although Recorders will normally handle less serious work than Circuit Judges. The allocation is conducted according to directions given by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     lex fori
2.     landed property
3.     lex situs
4.     respondent
5.     default judgment
6.     tort law
7.     living will
8.     lex causae
9.     law
10.     salacious