Small Claims Court Genie Knowledge

A Day in the Life of a District Judge

If you want to know about the typical day of a District Judge, we highly recommend that you read this post on the Judiciary website:

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/about-the-judiciary/judges-magistrates-and-tribunal-judges/a-day-in-the-life/district-judge

It is a really helpful insight on the workload of a District Judge and how they go about their work. It is most likely that your small claims trial will be decided by a District Judge.

Most District Judges are full time Judges. Some District Judges are called Deputy District Judges because they are part time Judges. Deputies are likely to sit as a Judge a few days each month and will likely be working as a solicitor or barrister in the rest of their time.

Type of Claims They Deal With

They deal with a huge cross section of legal disputes including:

  • Contract disputes – someone owes someone else money or someone isn’t happy with a service or product provided.
  • Property disputes, including are large number of possession claims brought by landlords and mortgage lenders.
  • Insolvency – usually personal bankruptcy, as the High Court Judges tend to deal with company insolvencies.
  • Personal injury claims.
  • Divorce petitions.
  • Some Judges conduct work dealing with children, such as access and custody claims. Those particular Judges tend to have additional training.

Number of Hearings in a Day

It depends upon the type of work the Judge is dealing with on any particular day. The courts tend to have certain allocated days when they deal with just one type of work. For example, on Mondays, they may just deal with insolvency cases. On Tuesdays they may deal with just property possession claims, and so on. On those types of days, a District Judge might get through in excess of 50 hearings, as they will all be relatively short so they can fit a lot in.

On small claims trial days, they may only be able to get through 2-3 trials because each may take 2-3 hours to dispose of. On fast track trial days, they are only likely to be able to deal with that one hearing.

As well as the hearings that have been set to go ahead for quite some time, the courts have to fit in space for emergency hearings, such as injunctions, applications to stop a bailiff enforcing and emergency family work. Emergency applications such as these, tend to be added to the very start of the day before the matters already listed to go ahead.

Familiarity with your Case and the Decision at Trial

Because of the number of claims they have to deal with in the course of a day, the District Judge may not always have had a great deal of time to read the papers about your case, before you go before him. Don’t assume that he knows everything inside out. At trial, you need to make sure you bring the District Judge’s attention to the important parts of your case.

Don’t take the District Judge’s decision personally if he decides the case against you. At the end of the day, he is just a man doing a difficult job. They can be overworked and under supported but on the whole, they tend to deal with matters fairly and proportionately. If you are unhappy with a decision, you could try to appeal or make a complaint.