Ref NoCY
TitleCOUNTY COURTS. County courts were from their inception instructed to keep records. It is probable that direction was given through statutory instruments as to the form of these. In the 1959 Act section 23 the records of the court to be kept are `as prescribed by the Lord Chancellor'. This prescription duly came in the County Court (Records of Proceedings) Regulations 1967 (SI 1967/1194). These regulations specified what records should be kept of the court in session (such as ordinary and default actions books) and what information they should contain, rather than background records concerning cases or court administration. Subsequently a Lord Chancellor's Department records retention schedule for county court records has also been issued.. Ordinary and default actions books: ordinary and default actions were originally recorded in the same plaint and minute books, all allocated the letter `A'. These books act as the main record of the court and include details of cases, summonses and judgements.. In 1915 for the rural courts, and in the late 19th century for the urban ones, a split was effected between the recording of ordinary and default actions. The ordinary actions plaint and minute books became `B' and the default actions `C'. By 1938 the books are titled by the action type. These books act as the main record of the court as above.. Commitment summons books: these cover both ordinary and default actions and are a record of all summonses and judgements relating to orders for commitment to prison. These books are labelled `H'.. Case files: these files contain, inter alia, copies of claims and defences, court papers and copies of evidence produced at hearings. They are selected by the creating court before transfer to Dorset Archives Service. All case files not selected for transfer are destroyed.. Ledgers: case payment ledgers are labelled `P'.. Foreign warrants books: these are labelled `M'.. Other records: some records have been created under specific provisions of certain acts. It seems likely that statutory instruments regulated the form of these records. There is evidence that the alphabetical tag applies to some of these too, as one Shaftesbury county court bankruptcy administration book bears the initial `W'..
Date1880-1992
LevelFonds
AdminHistoryThe ancient county courts were part of the Anglo-Saxon framework for local administration of justice, existing concurrently with the hundred courts to deal with both criminal and civil cases. After the Conquest the county courts diminished until they became courts only for small civil actions, and were largely obsolete (Jackson, R M, The machinery of justice in England (2nd edn), CUP, 1953).. County courts were revived by the Recovery of Small Debts Act 1846, subsequently known as the County Courts Act 1846 (9 & 10 Vic c.95). This Act effectively created the modern county courts. England and Wales was divided into districts which each had a court, empowered to purchase land to construct a court house. These courts dealt with cases for the recovery of small debts concerning contracts, trusts, probate and property. Clerks were created to keep accounts of all proceedings of the court and all court fees. Under section 59 of the Act the clerks were instructed to keep plaint books detailing the actions heard in court. Continuity was established with the old county courts by appointing where possible the clerks of the old courts as clerks to the new courts. Offices of treasurer and high bailiff were also created. All these officers were to be salaried.. The courts proved to be a success and their powers, which later included jurisdiction over bankruptcy (After the Bankruptcy Act 1883) were consolidated in the County Courts Act 1888 (51 & 52 Vic c.43). The clerks were now called registrars, and were to be solicitors of not less than 5 years' standing. Appeals from county court cases went to the Court of Appeal. Section 28 now instructed the registrar to keep a record of all plaints, summonses, orders and judgements as `minutes of proceedings'.. There were subsequent restatings in the County Courts Acts 1903 and 1919 (3 Edw VII c.42 and 9 & 10 Geo V c.73 respectively) 5, and during the early twentieth century the courts' jurisdiction grew further, through the common law with the growth of tort or 3rd party liability (and with it personal injury cases) and also through statutes concerning such matters as matrimonial law, housing and tenants' law and adoption and guardianship.. Further consolidation came in the County Courts Acts 1934 and 1959 (24 & 25 Geo V c.53 and 7 & 8 Eliz II c.22 respectively). Today county court jurisdiction covers virtually all civil law proceedings, with certain exceptions such as libel. Apart from those areas already mentioned, cases of admiralty, divorce and company law are all common in county courts.. DORSET COURTS. The Dorset county court districts are as follow:. BLANDFORD: created in 1846.. BOURNEMOUTH: included in Christchurch district in Hampshire c.1875-1915, when the district was renamed Bournemouth and Christchurch. In February 1920 Christchurch district was officially subsumed into Bournemouth and became a subdistrict. Transferred to the new administrative county of Dorset in April 1974.. BRIDPORT: created in 1846. Amalgamated with Yeovil district c.January 1954. Court abolished c.1969.. CHRISTCHURCH: created in 1846 when part of Hampshire. Originally included Bournemouth, but in February 1920 became a subdistrict of Bournemouth. It continued as such with a separate court until c.1931, and finally disappeared c.1942.. DORCHESTER: created in 1846. Merged with Weymouth post 1958.. POOLE: created in 1846. Originally covered the borough only but by 1942 was extended to include Lytchett Matravers and Lytchett Minster.. SHAFTESBURY: created in 1846. Amalgamated with Yeovil district in c.January 1954.. SWANAGE: Wareham district was renamed Swanage at some time between 1927-1931, to reflect change in location of court house.. WAREHAM: created in 1846. Name of district changed to Swanage in late 1920s.. WEYMOUTH: created in 1846. Merged with Dorchester post 1958.. WIMBORNE MINSTER: created in ?1846. Lost post 1939.. By 1988 there are only Bournemouth, Poole and Dorchester + Weymouth courts in Dorset. Yeovil district administers the only other Dorset court, that of Shaftesbury.. DORSET PARISHES OUTSIDE DORSET COURT DISTRICTS. Some Dorset places have never been in Dorset county court districts. The lists which follow indicate these and their original district:. AXMINSTER DISTRICT: Catherston Leweston, Charmouth, Lyme Regis, Thorncombe, Wootton Fitzpaine. CREWKERNE DISTRICT: Chedington, Corscombe, Mosterton, Seaborough, South Perrott. RINGWOOD DISTRICT: St Leonards and St Ives [Hampshire parishes until 1974]. SALISBURY DISTRICT: Pentridge. WINCANTON DISTRICT: Buckhorn Weston, Kington Magna. YEOVIL DISTRICT: Beer Hackett, Bishop's Caundle, Bradford Abbas, Castleton, Caundle Marsh, Chetnole, Clifton Maybank, East Chelborough, Folke, Goathill, Halstock, Haydon, Hermitage, Holnest, Holwell, Leigh, Lillington, Longburton, Melbury Bubb, Melbury Osmond, Melbury Sampford, Nether Compton, North Wootton, Oborne, Over Compton, Poyntington, Purse Caundle, Ryme Intrinseca, Sandford Orcas, Sherborne, Stockford, Thornford, Trent, West Chelborough, Yetminster. Yeovil now administers Yeovil, Axminster, Bridport, Chard, Crewkerne, Shaftesbury and Wincanton districts..
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