The shire or county courts were the most important of the communal courts which governed all aspects of local life in Anglo‐Saxon and Norman England. The shire court gradually declined with the growth of the common law courts and the development of Parliament in the 13th cent. By the 19th cent. there was no legal forum available to the would‐be civil litigant whose means were small. In 1846, to meet this criticism, the County Courts Act set up a network of new ‘county courts’ within each area. These courts became and remain civil courts of limited jurisdiction.
Subjects: Law — British History.