Search Legislation

Courts Act 2003

Family proceedings courts and youth courts

Section 50: Youth courts

118.This section sets out the framework whereby lay magistrates and District Judges (Magistrates’ Court) are to be authorised to hear youth cases.  The Act also enables the higher judiciary including circuit judges and recorders to hear these cases, without particular authorisation, in consequence of the extension of their jurisdiction to include that of a District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) by section 66.

119.Currently, in areas other than Greater London, lay magistrates are voted on to a specialist “panel” by other members of the bench.

120.Under this section, the “panel” system would be abolished.  The Lord Chancellor will have to authorise a lay justice or District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) before he or she can sit as a member of a youth court.  These personal authorisations will be valid throughout England and Wales.  The Lord Chancellor will have power to make rules regarding (a) the allocation and removal of authorisations for justices and District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) to sit as members of youth courts (b) the appointment of chairmen of youth courts and (c) the composition of such youth courts.

121.It is envisaged that new rules, which provide for a more transparent selection procedure, will be published for comment.  Because of the often sensitive nature of youth cases, and the specific knowledge and understanding that is required, these rules would help to ensure that only trained and suitable magistrates (or District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts)) sit on youth courts.

122.District Judges (Magistrates’ Courts) are in practice required to be “ticketed” for this work; that requirement is being made explicit in statute to reflect the increasing acceptance that the youth court is a specialist jurisdiction.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources