Government > Judicial branch > Subordinate courts: Countries Compared

DEFINITION: This entry is derived from Government > Judicial branch, which includes three subfields. The highest court(s) subfield includes the name(s) of a country's highest level court(s), the number and titles of the judges, and the types of cases heard by the court, which commonly are based on civil, criminal, administrative, and constitutional law. A number of countries have separate constitutional courts. The judge selection and term of office subfield includes the organizations and associated officials responsible for nominating and appointing judges, and a brief description of the process. The selection process can be indicative of the independence of a country's court system from other branches of its government. Also included in this subfield are judges' tenures, which can range from a few years, to a specified retirement age, to lifelong appointments. The subordinate courts subfield lists the courts lower in the hierarchy of a country's court system. A few countries with federal-style governments, such as Brazil, Canada, and the US, in addition to their federal court, have separate state- or province-level court systems, though generally the two systems interact.
Afghanistan Appeals Courts; Primary Courts; Special Courts for issues including narcotics, security, property, family, and juveniles
Akrotiri Resident Judges' Court; Courts Martial
Albania Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance
Algeria appellate or wilaya courts; first instance or daira tribunals
American Samoa district and village courts
Andorra Tribunal of Judges or Tribunal de Batlles; Tribunal of the Courts or Tribunal de Corts
Angola provincial and municipal courts
Anguilla Magistrate's Court; Juvenile Court
Antigua and Barbuda Industrial Court; Magistrates' Courts
Argentina federal level appellate, district, and territorial courts; provincial level supreme, appellate, and first instance courts
Armenia 2
Aruba Courts in First Instance
Australia subordinate courts at the federal level: Federal Court; Federal Magistrates' Courts of Australia; Family Court; subordinate courts at the state and territory level: Local Court - New South Wales; Magistrates' Courts – Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory; District Courts – New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia; County Court – Victoria; Family Court – Western Australia; Court of Petty Sessions – Norfolk Island
Austria Courts of Appeal (4); Regional Courts (20); district courts (120); county courts
Azerbaijan Courts of Appeal (replaced the Economic Court in 2002); district and municipal courts;
Bahrain High Court of Appeal; middle and lower civil courts; higher and lower shariah courts, and the High Shariah Court of Appeal
Bangladesh civil courts include: Assistant Judge's Court; Joint District Judge's Court; Additional District Judge's Court; District Judge's Court; criminal courts include: Court of Sessions; Court of Metropolitan Sessions; special courts/tribunals; Metropolitan Magistrate Courts; Magistrate Court
Barbados Magistrates' Courts
Belarus regional, district, city, town, and military courts
Belgium Courts of Appeal; regional courts; specialized courts for administrative, commercial, labor, and audit issues; magistrate's courts; justices of the peace
Belize Summary Jurisdiction Courts (criminal) and District Courts (civil)
Benin Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; district courts; village courts; Assize courts
Bermuda commercial court (began in 2006); magistrates' courts
Bhutan High Court (first appellate court); District or Dzongkhag Courts; sub-district or Dungkhag Courts
Bolivia Agro-Environmental Court; Council of the Judiciary; District Courts (in each of the 9 administrative departments)
Bosnia and Herzegovina the Federation has 10 cantonal courts plus a number of municipal courts; the Republika Srpska has a supreme court, 5 district courts, and a number of municipal courts
Botswana Industrial Court (with circuits scheduled monthly in the capital city and in three districts); Magistrates Courts (one in each district); Customary Court of Appeal; Paramount Chief's Court/Urban Customary Court; Senior Chief's Representative Court; Chief's Representative’s Court; Headman's Court
Brazil Federal Appeals Court, Superior Court of Justice, Superior Electoral Court, regional federal courts; state court system
British Virgin Islands Magistrates' Courts
Brunei Intermediate Court; Magistrate's Courts; Juvenile Court; small claims courts; lower sharia courts
Bulgaria appeals courts; regional and district courts; administrative courts; courts martial
Burkina Faso Appeals Court; High Court; first instance tribunals; district courts; specialized courts relating to issues of labor, children, and juveniles; village (customary) courts
Burma High Courts of the Region; High Courts of the State; Court of the Self-Administered Division; Court of the Self-Administered Zone; district and township courts; special courts (for juvenile, municipal, and traffic offenses); courts martial
Burundi Courts of Appeal; County Courts; Courts of Residence
Cambodia municipal and provincial courts; appellate courts; military court
Cameroon Parliamentary Court of Justice (jurisdiction limited to cases involving the president and prime minister); appellate and first instance courts; circuit and magistrate's courts
Canada federal level: Federal Court of Appeal; Federal Court; Tax Court; federal administrative tribunals; courts martial; provincial/territorial: provincial superior, appeals, first instance, and specialized courts; in 1999, the Nunavut Court - a circuit court with the power of a superior court and the territorial courts - was established to serve isolated settlements
Cape Verde first instance (municipal) courts; audit, military, and fiscal and customs courts
Cayman Islands Summary Court
Central African Republic high courts; magistrates' courts
Chad High Court of Justice; Courts of Appeal; tribunals; justices of the peace
Chile Courts of Appeal; oral criminal tribunals; military tribunals; local police courts; specialized tribunals and courts in matters such as family, labor, customs, taxes, and electoral affairs
China Higher People's Courts; Intermediate People's Courts; District and County People's Courts; Autonomous Region People's Courts; Special People's Courts for military, maritime, transportation, and forestry issues
Colombia Superior Tribunals (appellate courts for each of the judicial districts); regional courts; civil municipal courts; Superior Military Tribunal; first instance administrative courts
Comoros Court of Appeals (in Moroni); Tribunal de premiere; island village (community) courts; religious courts
Congo, Republic of the courts of appeal; regional and district courts; employment tribunals; juvenile courts
Cook Islands justices of the peace
Costa Rica appellate courts; first instance and justice of the peace courts; Superior Electoral Tribunal
Cote d'Ivoire Courts of Appeal (organized into civil, criminal, and social chambers); first instance courts; peace courts
Croatia Administrative Court; county, municipal, and specialized courts
Cuba People's Provincial Courts; People's Regional Courts; People's Courts
Cyprus Republic of Cyprus district courts; Assize Courts; specialized courts for issues relating to family, industrial disputes, military, and rent control; TRNC Assize Courts; district and family courts
Czech Republic High Court; superior, regional, and district courts
Democratic Republic of the Congo State Security Court; Court of Appeals (organized into administrative and judiciary sections); Tribunal de Grande; magistrates' courts; customary courts
Denmark Special Court of Indictment and Revision; 2 High Courts; Maritime and Commercial Court; county courts
Dhekelia Resident Judges' Court; Courts Martial
Djibouti High Court of Appeal; 5 Courts of First Instance; customary courts
Dominica Court of Summary Jurisdiction; magistrates' courts
Dominican Republic courts of appeal; courts of first instance; justices of the peace; special courts for juvenile, labor, and land cases; Contentious Administrative Court for cases filed against the government
East Timor Court of Appeal; district courts; magistrates' courts
Ecuador Fiscal Tribunal; Superior Court (one for each province); lower provincial and cantonal courts
Egypt Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; courts of limited jurisdiction; Family Court (established in 2004)
El Salvador Chambers of Second Instance; Courts of First Instance; Courts of Peace
Equatorial Guinea Court of Guarantees; military courts; Courts of Appeal; first instance tribunals; district and county tribunals
Eritrea regional/zonal courts; community courts; special courts; sharia courts (for issues dealing with Muslim marriage, inheritance, and family); military courts
Estonia circuit (appellate) courts; administrative, county, city, and specialized courts
Ethiopia federal high courts and federal courts of first instance; state court systems (mirror structure of federal system); sharia courts and customary and traditional courts
Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) Magistrate's Court (senior magistrate presides over civil and criminal divisions); Court of Summary Jurisdiction
Federated States of Micronesia the highest state-level courts are: Chuuk Supreme Court; Korsae State Court; Pohnpei State Court; Yap State Court
Fiji Magistrates' Court (organized into civil, criminal, juvenile, and small claims divisions)
Finland 6
France appellate courts or Cour d'Appel; regional courts or Tribunal de Grande Instance; first instance courts or Tribunal' d'instance
French Polynesia Court of the First Instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; Court of Administrative Law or Tribunal Administratif
Gabon Courts of Appeal; Court of State Security; county courts; military courts
Georgia Courts of Appeal; regional (town) and district courts
Germany Federal Administrative Court; Federal Finance Court; Federal Labor Court; Federal Social Court; each of the 16 German states or Land has its own constitutional court and a hierarchy of ordinary (civil, criminal, family) and specialized (administrative, finance, labor, social) courts
Ghana Court of Appeal; High Court; Circuit Court; District Court; regional tribunals
Gibraltar Court of First Instance; Magistrates' Court; specialized tribunals for issues relating to social security, taxes, and employment
Greece Supreme Administrative Court; Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; Court of Auditors
Greenland Court of Greenland; 18 district or magistrates' courts
Grenada magistrates' courts; Court of Magisterial Appeals
Guam Superior Court of Guam - includes several divisions; US Federal District Court for the District of Guam (a US territorial court; appeals beyond this court are heard before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit)
Guatemala numerous first instance and appellate courts
Guernsey Court of Alderney; Court of the Seneschal of Sark; Magistrate's Court (includes Juvenile Court); Contracts Court; Ecclesiastical Court; Court of Chief Pleas
Guinea Courts of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; courts of first instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; labor court; military tribunal; High Court of Justice; justices of the peace
Guinea-Bissau Appeal Court; regional (first instance) courts; military court
Guyana Land Court; magistrates' courts
Haiti Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; magistrates' courts; special courts
Holy See (Vatican City) Appellate Court of Vatican City; Tribunal of Vatican City
Honduras courts of appeal; courts of first instance; peace courts
Hong Kong High Court (consists of the Court of Appeal and Court of First Instance); District Courts (includes Family and Land Courts); magistrates' courts; specialized tribunals
Hungary regional courts of appeal; county courts, including the Municipal Court of Budapest; local courts
Iceland 8
India District Courts; Labour Court
Indonesia High Courts of Appeal, district courts, religious courts
Iran Penal Courts I and II; Islamic Revolutionary Courts; Courts of Peace; Special Clerical Court (functions outside the judicial system and handles cases involving clerics); military courts
Iraq Courts of Appeal (governorate level); courts of first instance; personal status, labor, criminal, juvenile, and religious courts
Ireland High Court, Court of Criminal Appeal; circuit and district courts
Isle of Man High Court; Court of Summary Gaol Delivery; Summary Courts; magistrate's Court; specialized courts
Israel district and magistrate courts; national and regional labor courts; special and religious courts
Italy various lower civil and criminal courts (primary and secondary tribunals, courts, and courts of appeal)
Jamaica resident magistrate courts, district courts, and petty sessions courts
Japan 8
Jersey Magistrate's Court; Youth Court; Petty Debts Court; Parish Hall Enquires (a process of preliminary investigation into youth and minor adult offenses to determine need for presentation before a court)
Jordan courts of appeal; magistrate courts; courts of first instance; religious courts; State Security Court
Kazakhstan regional and local courts
Kenya High Court; Court of Appeal; courts martial; magistrates' courts; religious courts
Kiribati Court of Appeal; magistrates' courts
Kosovo Court of Appeals (organized into 4 departments: General, Serious Crime, Commercial Matters), and Administrative Matters; Basic Court (located in 9 municipalities, each with several branches)
Kuwait High Court of Appeal; Court of First Instance; Summary Court
Kyrgyzstan Higher Court of Arbitration; oblast (provincial) and city courts
Laos provincial, municipal, district, and military courts
Latvia district (city) and regional courts
Lebanon Courts of Appeal (6); Courts of First Instance; specialized tribunals, religious courts; military courts
Lesotho Magistrate Courts; customary or traditional courts; Courts Martial
Liberia judicial circuit courts; special courts including criminal, civil, labor, traffic; magistrate and traditional or customary courts
Liechtenstein Court of Appeal or Obergericht (second instance), Court of Justice (first instance), Administrative Court, county courts
Lithuania Court of Appeals; district and local courts
Luxembourg district and local tribunals and courts
Macau Court of Second Instance; Court of First instance; Lower Court; Administrative Court
Madagascar Courts of Appeal; provincial and city tribunals
Malawi High Court; magistrate courts; Industrial Relations Court; district and city traditional or local courts
Malaysia Court of Appeal; High Court; Sessions Court; Magistrates' Court
Maldives High Court; Criminal, Civil, Family, Juvenile, and Drug Courts; Magistrate Courts (on each of the inhabited islands)
Mali High Court of Justice (jurisdiction limited to cases of high treason or criminal offenses by the president or ministers while in office)
Malta Court of Criminal Appeal; Civil Court (divided into the General Jurisdiction Section, Family Section, and Voluntary Section); Criminal Court; Court of Magistrates; Gozo Courts (for the islands of Gozo and Comino
Marshall Islands High Court; District Courts; Traditional Rights Court; Community Courts
Mauritania High Court of Justice (cases involving treason and criminal acts of high government officials); courts of appeal; wilaya (regional) courts (located at the headquarters of each of the 13 regions); commercial and labor courts; criminal courts; moughataa (district) courts; informal/customary courts
Mauritius Court of Civil Appeal; Court of Criminal Appeal; Public Bodies Appeal Tribunal (formed by a 2008 constitutional amendment)
Mexico federal level includes Electoral Tribunal, circuit, collegiate, and unitary courts; state level and district level courts
Moldova Courts of Appeal; Court of Business Audit; municipal courts
Monaco Court of Appeal; Civil Court of First Instance
Mongolia aimag (provincial) and capital city appellate courts; soum, inter-soum, and district courts; Administrative Cases Courts (established in 2004)
Montenegro Administrative Court; Court of Appeal; regional and first instance courts
Montserrat magistrate's court
Morocco courts of appeal; regional and sadad courts (for religious, civil and administrative, and penal adjudication)
Mozambique Administrative Court (capital city only); provincial courts or Tribunais Judicias de Provincia; District Courts or Tribunais Judicias de Districto; customs courts; maritime courts; courts marshal; labor courts; community courts
Namibia High Court; Labor Court; regional and district magistrates' courts; community courts
Nauru District Court, Family Court
Nepal appellate and district courts
Netherlands courts of appeal; district courts, each with up to 5 subdistrict courts
New Caledonia Courts of First Instance include: civil, juvenile, commercial, labor, police, criminal, Assizes, and also a pre-trial investigation chamber; Joint Commerce Tribunal; administrative courts
New Zealand Court of Appeal; High Court; tribunals and authorities; district courts; specialized courts for issues related to employment, environment, Maori lands, and military
Nicaragua Appeals Court; first instance civil, criminal, and military courts
Niger Court of Cassation; Council of State; Court of Finances; various specialized tribunals and customary courts
Nigeria Court of Appeal; Federal High Court; High Court of the Federal Capital Territory; Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory; Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory; state court system similar in structure to federal system
Niue High Court
Norfolk Island Petty Court of Sessions; specialized courts including a Coroner's Court and the Employment Tribunal
North Korea provincial, municipal, military, special courts; people' courts (lowest level)
Northern Mariana Islands Superior Court
Norway Courts of Appeal or Lagmensrett; regional and district courts; Conciliation Boards; ordinary and special courts
Oman Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; sharia courts; magistrates' courts
Pakistan High Courts; Federal Shariat Court; provincial and district civil and criminal courts; specialized courts for issues such as taxation, banking, customs, etc.
Palau National Court and other 'inferior' courts
Panama appellate courts or Tribunal Superior; Labor Supreme Courts; Court of Audit; circuit courts or Tribunal Circuital (2 each in 9 provinces); municipal courts; electoral, family, maritime, and adolescent courts
Papua New Guinea district, village, and juvenile courts
Paraguay appellate courts; first instance courts; minor courts, including justices of the peace
Peru Court of Constitutional Guarantees; Superior Courts or Cortes Superiores; specialized civil, criminal, and mixed courts; two types of peace courts in which professional judges and selected members of the local communities preside
Philippines Court of Appeals; Sandiganbayan (special court for corruption cases of government officials); Court of Tax Appeals; regional, metropolitan, and municipal trial courts; sharia courts
Pitcairn Islands Magistrate's Court
Poland Constitutional Tribunal; regional and appellate courts subdivided into military, civil, criminal, labor, and family courts
Portugal Supreme Administrative Court (Supremo Tribunal Administrativo); Audit Court (Auditoria do Tribunal); appellate, district, and municipal courts
Puerto Rico Court of Appeals; First Instance Court comprised of superior and municipal courts
Qatar Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; Sharia Courts; Courts of Justice
Republic of Macedonia Courts of Appeal; Basic Courts
Romania Courts of Appeal; regional tribunals; first instance courts; military and arbitration courts
Russia Higher Arbitration Court; regional (kray) and provincial (oblast) courts; Moscow and St. Petersburg city courts; autonomous province and district courts
Rwanda High Court of the Republic; commercial courts including the High Commercial Court; intermediate courts; primary courts; Gacaca and military specialized courts
Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha Magistrate's Court; Small Claims Court; Juvenile Court
Saint Kitts and Nevis magistrates' courts
Saint Lucia magistrate's court
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines magistrates' courts
Samoa District Court; Magistrates' Courts; Land and Titles Courts; village fono or village chief councils
San Marino first instance and first appeal criminal, administrative, and civil courts; justices of the peace or conciliatory judges
Sao Tome and Principe Court of First Instance; Audit Court
Saudi Arabia Court of Appeals; first-degree courts composed of general, criminal, personal status, and commercial courts, and the Labor Court; hierarchy of administrative courts
Senegal Court of Appeals; regional and first instance courts
Serbia appellate courts, higher courts, and municipal and district courts; courts of special jurisdiction include the Administrative Court, Appellate Commercial Court, and two levels of misdemeanor courts
Seychelles Magistrates' Courts of Seychelles; Family Tribunal for issues such as domestic violence, and child custody and maintenance
Sierra Leone magistrates' courts; District Appeals Court; local courts
Singapore district, magistrates', juvenile, family, community, and coroners' courts; small claims tribunals
Slovakia regional and district civil courts; Higher Military Court; military district courts; Court of Audit
Slovenia county, district, regional, and high courts; specialized labor-related and social courts; Court of Audit; Administrative Court
Solomon Islands Magistrates' Courts; local courts; Customary Land Appeal Court
Somalia Transitional Appeal Court; regional and district courts; sharia (Islamic courts)
South Africa High Courts; Magistrates' Courts; labor courts; land claims courts;
South Korea High Courts; District Courts; Branch Courts (organized undeer the Branch Courts); specialized courts for family and administrative issues
South Sudan national level: Courts of Appeal; High Courts; County Courts; state level: High Courts; County Courts; customary courts; other specialized courts and tribunals
Spain National Court; High Courts of Justice (in each of the autonomous communities); provincial courts; courts of first instance
Sri Lanka Court of Appeals; High Courts; Magistrate's Courts; municipal and primary courts
Sudan National Court of Appeals; other national courts (not specified in the 2005 Interim National Constitution as to national or local authority); township and rural (peoples') courts
Suriname cantonal courts
Swaziland magistrates' courts; National Swazi Courts for administering customary/traditional law (jurisdiction restricted to customary law for Swazi citizens)
Sweden first instance and appellate general and administrative courts; specialized courts that handle cases such as land and environment, immigration, labor, markets, and patents
Switzerland Federal Criminal Court (began in 2004); Federal Administrative Court (began in 2007)
Syria courts of first instance; magistrates' courts; religious and military courts; Economic Security Court
Taiwan high courts; district courts; hierarchy of administrative courts
Tajikistan regional and district courts; Dushanbe City Court; viloyat (province level) courts; Court of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region
Tanzania Resident Magistrates Courts; Kadhi courts (for Islamic family matters); district and primary courts
Thailand courts of first instance and appeals courts within both the judicial and administrative systems; military courts
The Bahamas Supreme Court; Industrial Tribunal; Stipendiary and Magistrates Courts; Family Island Administrators
The Gambia Court of Appeal; High Court; Special Criminal Court; Khadis or Muslim courts; district tribunals; magistrates courts
Togo Court of Assizes (sessions court); appeals courts; tribunals of first instance (divided into civil, commercial, and correctional chambers; Court of State Security; military tribunal
Tokelau High Court, in New Zealand; Council of Elders or Taupulega
Tonga Supreme Court; Magistrate's Courts; Land Courts
Trinidad and Tobago Courts of Summary Criminal Jurisdiction; Petty Civil Courts; Family Court
Tunisia Administrative Court; Courts of Appeal; Housing Court; courts of first instance; lower district courts; military courts
Turkey Council of State (Danistay); Court of Accounts (Sayistay); Military High Court of Appeals; Military High Administrative Court
Turkmenistan provincial, district, and city courts; High Commercial Court; military courts
Turks and Caicos Islands magistrates' courts
Tuvalu magistrates' courts; island courts; lands courts
Uganda Court of Appeal (also sits as the Constitutional Court); High Court (includes 10 High Court Circuits and 7 High Court Divisions); Chief Magistrate Grade One and Grade Two Courts
Ukraine specialized high courts; Courts of Cassation; Courts of Appeal; regional, district, city, and town courts
United Arab Emirates Federal Court of Cassation (determines the constitutionality of laws promulgated at the federal and local (emirate) levels; federal level courts of first instance and appeals courts; each emirate has its own court system
United Kingdom England and Wales - Court of Appeal (civil and criminal divisions); High Court; Crown Court; County Courts; Magistrates' Courts; Scotland - Court of Sessions; Sherrif Courts; High Court of Justiciary; tribunals; Northern Ireland - Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland; High Court; county courts; magistrates' courts; specialized tribunals
United States Courts of Appeal (includes the US Court of Appeal for the Federal District and 12 regional appeals courts); 94 federal district courts in 50 states and territories
Uruguay Courts of Appeal; District Courts (Juzagados Letrados); Peace Courts (Juzagados de Paz); Rural Courts (Juzgados Rurales)
Uzbekistan regional, district, city, and town courts
Vanuatu magistrates' courts; island courts
Venezuela Superior or Appeals Courts (Tribunales Superiores); District Tribunals (Tribunales de Distrito); Courts of First Instance (Tribunales de Primera Instancia); Parish Courts (Tribunales de Parroquia); Justices of the Peace (Justicia de Paz) Network
Vietnam Court of Appeals; administrative, civil, criminal, economic, and labor courts; Central Military Court; People's Special Courts
Virgin Islands Superior Court (renamed in 2004 vice the Territorial Court); US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (has appellate jurisdiction over the District Court of the Virgin Islands; it is a territorial court and is not associated with a US federal judicial district); District Court of the Virgin Islands
Wallis and Futuna note: justice generally administered under French law by the high administrator, but the three traditional kings administer customary law and there is a magistrate in Mata-Utu
Yemen appeal courts; district or first instance courts; commercial courts
Zambia High Court; magistrate's courts and local courts
Zimbabwe High Court, regional magistrate courts, and special courts


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