- 1 [countable, uncountable] the place where legal trials take place and where crimes, etc. are judged the civil/criminal courts Her lawyer made a statement outside the court. She will appear in court tomorrow. They took their landlord to court for breaking the contract. The case took five years to come to court (= to be heard by the court). There wasn't enough evidence to bring the case to court (= start a trial). During the court hearing, the prosecutor said she would seek maximum prison sentences. He won the court case and was awarded damages. She can't pay her tax and is facing court action. The case was settled out of court (= a decision was reached without a trial). Which Word?court / law court / court of law All these words can be used to refer to a place where legal trials take place. Court and (formal) court of law usually refer to the actual room where cases are judged. Courtroom is also used for this. Law court (British English) is more often used to refer to the building:The prison is opposite the law court. Courthouse is used for this in North American English. see also courthouse, courtroom Wordfinderabide by something, court, crime, justice, law, legal, police, prosecute, punish, trial CollocationsCriminal justiceBreaking the law break/violate/obey/uphold the law be investigated/arrested/tried for a crime/a robbery/fraud be arrested/ (especially North American English) indicted/convicted on charges of rape/fraud/(especially US English) felony charges be arrested on suspicion of arson/robbery/shoplifting be accused of/be charged with murder/(especially North American English) homicide/four counts of fraud face two charges of indecent assault admit your guilt/liability/responsibility (for something) deny the allegations/claims/charges confess to a crime grant/be refused/be released on/skip/jump bailThe legal process stand/await/bring somebody to/come to/be on trial take somebody to/come to/settle something out of court face/avoid/escape prosecution seek/retain/have the right to/be denied access to legal counsel hold/conduct/attend/adjourn a hearing/trial sit on/influence/persuade/convince the jury sit/stand/appear/be put/place somebody in the dock plead guilty/not guilty to a crime be called to/enter (British English) the witness box take/put somebody on the stand/(North American English) the witness stand call/subpoena/question/cross-examine a witness give/hear the evidence against/on behalf of somebody raise/withdraw/overrule an objection reach a unanimous/majority verdict return/deliver/record a verdict of not guilty/unlawful killing/accidental death convict/acquit the defendant of the crime secure a conviction/your acquittal lodge/file an appeal appeal (against)/challenge/uphold/overturn a conviction/verdictSentencing and punishment pass sentence on somebody carry/face/serve a seven-year/life sentence receive/be given the death penalty be sentenced to ten years (in prison/jail) carry/impose/pay a fine (of $3 000)/a penalty (of 14 years imprisonment) be imprisoned/jailed for drug possession/fraud/murder do/serve time/ten years be sent to/put somebody in/be released from jail/prison be/put somebody/spend X years on death row be granted/be denied/break (your) parole British/Americanat / in school In British English somebody who is attending school is at school:I was at school with her sister. In North American English in school is used:I have a ten-year-old in school. In school in North American English can also mean ‘attending a university’. Culturethe legal systemFor historical reasons, the system of law used in Scotland is different from that in England and Wales, with the law in Northern Ireland similar to that in England. When making decisions Scottish courts look for an appropriate general principle and apply it to a particular situation. English law relies on case law, a collection of previous decisions, called precedents. English courts look at precedents for the case being tried and make a similar judgement. A basic principle of law in Britain is that anyone accused is innocent until proven guilty, so it is the job of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant (= the person accused) has broken the law as stated in the charge. If this cannot be proved the person must be acquitted (= allowed to go free, with no blame attached).British law is divided into civil law which concerns disagreements between individuals about matters such as business contracts, and criminal law which deals with offences that involve harm to a person resulting from somebody breaking the law. In civil cases, the plaintiff (= the person who claims to have been wronged) brings an action against the defendant in the hope of winning damages (= a financial payment) or an injunction (= a court order preventing the defendant from doing something). Criminal cases are brought against criminals by the state, in England and Wales by the Director of Public Prosecutions and in Scotland through procurators fiscal.In England and Wales most towns have a Magistrates' Court where minor cases are judged and more serious cases are passed to higher courts by three magistrates called Justices of the Peace, specially trained members of the public. The more serious cases are heard in a Crown Court by a judge and a jury. Minor civil cases, such as divorce and bankruptcy, are heard in the county courts and more serious ones in the High Court of Justice. Appeals against decisions from the Crown Court or the High Court go to the Court of Appeal and a few cases, where a question of law is in doubt, are passed to the Supreme Court, which has replaced the House of the Lords as the highest court in the country.In Scotland, criminal cases are heard in District Courts by members of the public called lay justices. More serious cases go to regional sheriff courts and are heard by the sheriff and a jury. Appeals go to the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh. Civil cases begin in the sheriff court and may go on appeal to the Court of Session.In the US, the judicial system is one of the three branches of the federal government, but the legal system operates at many levels with state, county and city courts as well as federal courts. The right to trial by jury is provided by the Constitution. Each type of court has its own jurisdiction, that is it deals with certain kinds of cases. Both civil and criminal cases are first heard in trial courts and there is a right to appeal against the court's decision in a court of appeals. Many states have family courts where people get divorced and small claims courts which deal with small amounts of money. States also have trial courts, which hear a wider range of cases, and courts of appeal called superior courts or district courts. Most states have a supreme court where the most serious appeals are held. States have their own criminal code, but some crimes are federal offences, i.e. against federal law, and crimes may fall under federal jurisdiction if more than one state is involved.Most courts have only one judge, but some higher courts have several. In the US Supreme Court, the nine judges are called justices. The people on either side of a case are represented by lawyers, also called attorneys-at-law. In a criminal trial the defendant is represented by a defense attorney, or if he or she is too poor to pay a lawyer, the court will appoint a public defender. The prosecution is led by an assistant district attorney or, in federal cases, by a federal attorney.
- 2 the court [singular] the people in a court, especially those who make the decisions, such as the judge and jury Please tell the court what happened. The court heard yesterday how the man collapsed and died after being stabbed. see also contempt of court, county court, Crown Court, High Court, juvenile court, Supreme Court for sport
- 3[countable] a place where games such as tennis are played a tennis/squash/badminton court He won after only 52 minutes on court. see also clay court, grass court See related entries: Tennis, Basketball kings/queens
- 4[countable, uncountable] the official place where kings and queens live the court of Queen Victoria He was presented to the queen at court.
- 5the court [singular] the king or queen, their family, and the people who work for them and/or give advice to them buildings
- 6[countable] = courtyard
- 7(abbreviation Ct) [countable] used in the names of blocks of flats or apartment buildings, or of some short streets; (in Britain) used in the name of some large houses
- 8[countable] a large open section of a building, often with a glass roof the food court at the shopping mall Word Origin Middle English: from Old French cort, from Latin cohors, cohort-