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Local justice area

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Title: Local justice area  
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Subject: Magistrates' court (England and Wales)
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Local justice area

Local justice areas are units in England and Wales established by the Courts Act 2003, replacing and directly based on the previous petty sessions areas. They have been in existence since 2005.

Local justice areas are used to determine which magistrates' courts may hear a particular case. Specifically, cases may only be heard in courts which are in:

  • a place in the local justice area in which the offence is alleged to have been committed,
  • a place in the local justice area in which the person charged with the offence resides,
  • a place in the local justice area in which the witnesses, or the majority of the witnesses, reside, or
  • a place where other cases raising similar issues are being dealt with.

The areas established were identical to the petty sessions areas. They have since been amended by the merger of South Pembrokeshire and North Pembrokeshire to a single Pembrokeshire local justice area, and the merger of De Maldwyn and Welshpool to a single Montgomeryshire local justice area - this change will came into force in 2006, although the magistrates already shared the same courtroom.

A further amendment occurred in 2006 when the areas of Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Drayton were combined to become a new area named Shrewsbury and North Shropshire. The areas of Telford and Bridgnorth and South Shropshire were also combined to become a new area named Telford and South Shropshire.

Each local justice area is part of a larger Courts Boards area, which replaced the magistrates' courts committee areas with the inauguration of Her Majesty's Courts Service in 2005.[1]


Avon and Somerset






  • North Durham
  • South Durham



  • High Peak
  • North East Derbyshire and Dales
  • Southern Derbyshire

Devon and Cornwall

  • East Cornwall
  • Central Devon
  • North Devon
  • Plymouth District
  • West Cornwall
  • South Devon


  • East Dorset
  • West Dorset


  • Mid-North Essex
  • Mid-South Essex
  • North East Essex
  • North West Essex
  • South East Essex
  • South West Essex


  • Gloucestershire

Greater London

Greater Manchester

Hampshire (and the Isle of Wight)

Consolidated in 1993 - see [2]


  • West & Central Hertfordshire
  • North & East Hertfordshire



  • Central Kent
  • East Kent
  • North Kent


Leicestershire (and Rutland)





Northumbria (Northumberland and Tyne and Wear)

North Yorkshire


South Yorkshire


Source: [3]


  • North East Suffolk
  • South East Suffolk
  • West Suffolk


  • North Surrey - Staines Magistrates Court
  • North West Surrey - Woking Magistrates Court (now closed)
  • South East Surrey - Redhill Magistrates Court
  • South West Surrey - Guildford Magistrates Court

Proposal now to merge all Surrey Courts


  • Sussex (Central) - Brighton and Lewes Magistrates Courts
  • Sussex (Eastern) - Eastbourne and Hastings Magistrates Courts
  • Sussex (Northern) - Crawley, Haywards Heath and Horsham Magistrates Courts
  • Sussex (Western)- Worthing and Chichester Magistrates Courts

Thames Valley (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire)


  • Warwickshire

West Mercia (Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire)

West Midlands

West Yorkshire


  • North West Wiltshire
  • South East Wiltshire
  • Swindon



  • Courts Act 2003
  • Local Justice Areas Order 2005
  • Local Justice Areas (No.2) Order 2005
  • The Local Justice Areas (No.1) Order 2006
  • The Local Justice Areas (No.2) Order 2006
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