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When Would Party Wall Disputes Go to a Magistrates Court?

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Party Wall Surveyors often talk about Magistrates and Magistrates Courts. There is sometimes confusion as to what a Magistrate is. Kingston Surveyors have been asked how this differs from the role of the Judge? In this article, we will look at what a Magistrate is. We will also see how this plays a position with the Party Wall Surveyors.

What is a Magistrate?

A Magistrate is a judicial officer. They are also known as justices of the peace. Magistrates can be appointed at the young age of 18. They can work right up until they are 70. Unlike Judges, Magistrates do not require legal training or qualifications. They do have to undertake mandatory training. While in court, they are always supported by a trained legal advisor. The legal advisors guide the Magistrate on points of law and procedure. These are the Clerks to the Justices. Most Magistrates are volunteers. The Party Wall Kingston Surveyors Team can help you with all aspects of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

There are no statutory requirements as to the qualifications of a magistrate. There are though six core requirements to become a Magistrate. These requirements were laid down by the Lord Chancellor in 1998. Some of the things he stated included that they had to be of good character. Magistrates are expected to have integrity. They must possess an understanding and be able to communicate well. They must be able to understand documents. The Lord Chancellor also stated that they must be able to make sound judgments. They must also be able to work with others.

So, you see, being a Magistrate isn’t as straightforward as first thought. Let’s take a look below at the other misconception that occurs. Judges and Magistrates, what are their differences?

Difference Between a Magistrate and Judge


The differences between the two generally have to do with their power; this is the power they exercise. Judges and Magistrates are often confused. Some think that they are the same, but this is not the case. A Judge has more powers than a Magistrate.

So, a Judge would have a law degree and would have experience working as a lawyer. A Judge has a lot of power concerning decisions concerning legal matters; this includes party wall matters. The Kingston Surveyors can give more advice on this. Judges tend to handle more complex cases. Prince Surveyors are experienced in dealing with Judges and Magistrates. For any information relating to this, please contact us.

A Magistrate takes decisions in legal cases; this is like a Judge. He doesn’t have so much power, though. Magistrates handle small cases. The law enforcement powers exercised by a Magistrate are limited compared to that of a Judge.



Why Would Party Wall Matters Go to Magistrates Court?

There are several reasons this would happen. Let’s start at the beginning.

Party wall awards often provide sums of money to be paid by one owner to another; this could compensate for damage caused; or would have been caused during party wall works. It could also be for professional fees. Sometimes the person who owes the money doesn’t pay. If this happens, then the other person may issue proceedings to recover the debt. Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, these monies can be claimed; this can be done through the Magistrates Court or County Court. The Magistrates Court is a simpler procedure. The Magistrates Court’s primary advantage is that they tend to be more generous in awarding costs to the complainant; this would be done under Section 58 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1980

Section 58 (1)A states:

‘Magistrates’ court shall have the power to make an order on the complaint for the payment of any money recoverable summarily as a civil debt.’

If you require help with any of these matters, the Kingston surveyors have extensive experience and are ready to help.

What’s the Difference Between Going to a Magistrates Court and a County Court?

The Magistrates Court (as explained above) is a more straightforward process. There are some main differences between the two.

To make this easier to understand, we have put this on a list.

Magistrates’ Court:

  • Proceedings must be issued within 6 months of when the debt is demanded
  • Reasonable costs, including legal costs, can be recovered
  • Interest cannot be recovered
  • Hearings are usually held within a few weeks
  • Court fees are payable

County Court:

  • Proceedings must be issued with 6 years of when the debt becomes due
  • Only court fees can be recovered
  • Interest can be retrieved at 8%
  • The hearing can be up to 6 months after issuing proceedings
  • Court fees are payable

If the limitation period has expired, you might not have a choice but to go to County Court. The Kingston Surveyors are always on hand to help with matters like this.


To ensure that you will be heard at the correct Court, the Surveyors can help with this. They are experienced in all Party Wall matters.



As with all Party Wall matters, the subject of the Magistrates Court is a complex issue. If you are experiencing problems concerning this, please contact the Surveyors, who will be happy to help.


For more information regarding the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.


Contact us today to see how party wall surveyors can help you with your party wall Act requirements or for FREE expert advice to be organised for you. 

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