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Apparently there is only one county “court,” in that the county court throughout all of England if not also Wales is really just one big court that sits in various different locations throughout the country.

But apparently certain decisions in county court in one of the London region’s locations will bind other county court decisions within the London area. What principle makes this so? And what level of judge must the decision be from in order to bind future county court decisions? (Deputy district, district, or circuit?)

Are there similar groupings around the rest of the country? Does central London county court location have any type of special status within the London area?

Is there such a thing as “circuits” of the court as there apparently are in the USA and as circuit judges are apparently named according to?

Otherwise short of binding precedent power, can county court decisions be persuasive on other county court decisions? And what criteria must a decision meet in order to be so “persuasive”?

What is the hierarchy or “food web” / organisational chart of influence between the different sections/regions/levels of the national “county court”?

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    "apparently certain decisions in county court in one of the London region’s locations will bind other county court decisions within the London area." - according to who or what, and what category of decisions?
    – Lag
    Sep 15, 2023 at 11:01
  • I don’t know, I’ve read it on authoritative blogs before like nearly legal Sep 15, 2023 at 13:10
  • “ "Now we have a county court appeal judgment on the issue, from HHJ Luba KC. Still not a binding precedent, but of persuasive value (and will be followed in the London courts)." nearlylegal.co.uk/2023/08/… Sep 15, 2023 at 13:19
  • 1
    @Lag, I vaguely recall I've read something along those lines myself in the past, although I'm unclear which rules apply.
    – Steve
    Sep 15, 2023 at 13:23
  • 2
    Ask Nearly Legal then, I seem to recall they are responsive to questions/comments. Let us know how you get on.
    – Lag
    Sep 15, 2023 at 15:47

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Is there such a thing as “circuits” of the court as there apparently are in the USA and as circuit judges are apparently named according to?

Just answering this question narrowly.

The original idea of "circuit judges" was as a way of projecting central power (of the King of England) and ensuring that the King's law was evenly applied across the kingdom.

These circuit judges were effectively travelling judges, who regularly moved around the main towns of a certain area of the country. I believe "circuits" were devised so that a circuit judge could reasonably complete a cycle between the various towns on the circuit once a year - bearing in mind that this would once have been via horse and carriage.

This was in contrast to local lords of the manor, who of course were local to a particular place and had no authority outside their own locality, and in contrast to the King as the ultimate lawmaker and final level of appeal (who at certain times in history did travel, but later was localised to Westminster).

There are many more historical complexities, but that is essentially what a "circuit judge" is - a middle rank between local justices and the central monarch.

The USA inherited this system, save that the final level of appeal there was not the King but the Supreme Court.

Nowadays, a circuit judge will often be mobile, but not necessarily so, and lower ranks of judges are professionals (not local landlords) and may not be local to a particular court. In England it's best to think of them nowadays purely as judicial ranks. In terms of binding authority, there is no distinction between the "circuit" on which a case originated, only the rank of the court which passed judgment.

In the USA by contrast, I believe there are still distinct circuits where there can be differences between circuits on points of law, and one circuit does not have to be bound by the judgments of another (only the Supreme Court is capable of resolving the difference).

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