At Citizens Advice Law we want to break the law down in a user friendly way and therefore are providing a short summary of terms which you may come across during legal proceedings. We are also providing information on the Court system and how it works.
Legal Terms Explained-
Claimant- when legal proceedings are brought, the person or persons, organisation, bringing the case is called the claimant.
Defendant- The individual or organisation being sued and therefore defending, is called the defendant.
Writ- A judicial writ is issued to bring legal proceedings. Civil cases are started in the courts by issuing and serving a writ. This document is completed either by an individual bringing the case or by a legal professional on behalf of the individual. It is issued by the court.
Litigant in person- A litigant is someone who is bringing legal proceedings or suing. A litigant-in-person is someone who chooses to represent themselves in court, without a lawyer
Civil claims in the courts are for damages, which is money claimed from the defendant to compensate the claimant for loss arising from the action of default of the defendant. An example might be the sale of a good that has caused injury to a person and it is alleged that the good was faulty at the time of purchase.
The court system in the United Kingdom deals in the main, with civil and criminal cases. They are heard in either the county court (civil cases) and the Magistrates and Crown Courts (criminal cases).
Civil cases are those that typically involve breaches of contract, personal injury claims, divorce cases, bankruptcy hearings, debt problems, some employment cases, landlord and tenant disputes and other consumer disputes, such as faulty goods. These are the cases that are most often dealt with by the individual acting as litigant in person.
Criminal cases- are those such as offences against the person, theft, damage to property, murder and fraud. These cases, if of a non-serious nature, are heard in the magistrates courts. If serious they will be heard in the Crown Court and tried by Jury. You can represent yourselves in a crown court but individuals tend to use specialist solicitors.
Source:Conduct your own Court Case by Helen Little