The Magistrates’ Court Act of 1980

The Magistrates Court Act of 1980 is an Act of Parliament that sets out the rules and procedures that apply to the magistrates’ court. The 1980 version of the Act is a revision of its predecessor from 1952. It is divided into six parts.

Part 1) Criminal jurisdiction and procedure
This part of the Act sets out the process for dealing with arrests and warrants for criminals.

Part 2) Civil jurisdiction
This is the process used for the arrests and warrants involved in civil procedures.

Part 3) Enforcements of judgments
The part of the Act on enforcements of judgments covers the rules set out around collecting owed money.

Part 4) Witnesses and evidence
These are the procedures for giving evidence and providing witnesses in a magistrates’ court.

Part 5) Appeals
These are the rights which attendees have to appeal against the results of their case.

Part 6) Recognisances
Recognisances are the obligations which someone has upon the attendance of court.

Magistrates’ Courts Records

The magistrates’ courts have a long history going back over half a century. With a history this long, and bearing in mind the courts deal with 95% of all court cases in the UK, the Magistrates Court Act had to be drawn up to maintain some kind of order and procedure in the courtroom. Most records of cases are kept and stored locally to the court where the trial is held and will include:

  • court registers
  • court cases
  • pardons
  • bail registers

The Magistrates Court Act can be easily found in an online court archive. Of course, as the conditions and society in which we live in change, the Act needs to be altered to suit. Past revisions have included:

  • the Magistrates’ Court Act 1952
  • the Magistrates’ Court Act 1957
  • the Magistrates’ Courts (appeals from binding over orders) Act
  • the Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates’ Court Act 1978
  • the Police and Magistrates’ Court Act 1994
  • the Magistrates’ Courts (procedure) Act 1998.