District court?

What is a district court? Some people like to translate Amtsgericht or Landgericht as district court. But those are different. And so are the three district courts I know of.

There are district courts in Scotland.

bq. Currently there are 30 District Courts in Scotland. The District Court is at the bottom end of the court hierarchy in Scotland. It deals only with summary criminal matters. There are also certain offences, for example, an assault resulting in a broken bone, which cannot be heard in the District Court but must go to the Sheriff Court. The District Court can imprison for up to 60 days and impose a fine of up to level 4 (presently £2,500). The most common types of offences to be dealt with in the District Court are breach of the peace, assault, vandalism, theft (but not theft by housebreaking), speeding, vehicle excise, T.V. licencing, electricity fraud and other miscellaneous road traffic offences. There are a lot of other offences dealt with in the District Court on a less regular basis.

bq. The District Court is a lay court where a Justice of the Peace who is a lay person sits with a legally qualified clerk (in some areas Justices sit in threes). The only exception to this is stipendiary magistrate courts in Glasgow where the stipendiary magistrate sits on his/her own and is legally qualified and has the same powers as a sheriff who is sitting summarily (the difference between summary procedure and solemn procedure is that in summary procedure the judge sits on his own and in solemn procedure the judge sits with a jury).

This is rather like an English magistrates’ court – perhaps too peculiar to be used as a translation of Amtsgericht, and certainly too low in the hierarchy for Landgericht.Then there are district courts in the U.S. federal system.

bq. The United States district courts are the trial courts of the federal court system. Within limits set by Congress and the Constitution, the district courts have jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including both civil and criminal matters. There are 94 federal judicial districts, including at least one district in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Three territories of the United States — the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands — have district courts that hear federal cases, including bankruptcy cases.

These are rather like the Landgericht, but I think the federal system might conjure up the wrong impression in a translation.

Finally, there are district courts in some states, again rather like the Landgericht.

3 thoughts on “District court?

  1. There are also district courts in Ireland and (AFAIK) in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and in other countries where English is used in the courts. In Ireland, as in Scotland, the DC is the lowest of the courts but tries civil as well as criminal cases.

  2. Thanks. I really should read something about Ireland. I actually have a book comparing all EU jurisdictions and I’m sure it is fairly helpful.
    It sounds as if there is an article (a boring article) in there: ‘Why not to use the word “district court” as a translation’.

  3. Would be helpful if the information gave examples, if any, of district courts dealing with health and safety offences

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