What is a District Registry?

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  • Written By: Daphne Mallory
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 February 2020
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The High Court of England and Wales is the central court based in London that uses a district registry to hear cases that pertain to family and civil business. District registries, along with county courts, are located all around England and Wales and are controlled by the High Court. County courts have exclusive jurisdiction on certain legal matters that are heard outside of the High Court, such as bankruptcy hearings. District judges, formerly called district registrars, are often appointed to each district registry. Defendants who are called to appear before any district registry must reside or conduct business where the registry is located, and a defendant who does not meet that criteria may be able to remove the action from the district registry and appear instead before the High Court in limited circumstances.

The High Court is located at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, England. District registries and county courts are often located at judicial buildings across England. For example, the Manchester Civil Justice Centre is the location of the Manchester County Court and the Manchester District Registry. Historically, judges would travel from one district registry to the next to hear cases on behalf of the High Court. Today, district judges are appointed for seven years or other terms as designated by law to oversee cases in one district registry, and they are appointed by the Lord Chancellor on behalf of the Queen.


The district registry is responsible for all aspects of the case, including the enforcement of any judgment that the plaintiff wins against the defendant. For example, if a plaintiff in a high court family business case wins a judgment to have the defendant’s wages garnished, the plaintiff could pursue the matter with the registry. District judges are often able to enter judgments based on settlement by the parties. If the defendant is a no show, then the judge is often able to enter a default as long as the plaintiff has met all the legal requirements necessary to initiate the case in the court. The rules and procedures for each case heard in district registries are often the same as what the plaintiffs and defendants can expect at the High Court.

District judges are responsible for presiding over a variety of matters that pertain to civil business and family members. They are often former deputy judges who worked in that capacity for at least two years. Some examples of the legal cases they handle include divorces, claims for damages in business dealings, and commercial tenant disputes.


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