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Part 1 Roles and Relationships in the Magistrates Court The office of District Judge magistrates courts is created by section 78 of the Access to Justice Act 1999 which provides for the unification and renaming of the stipendiary bench Prior to the implementation of this Act professional judges in magistrates courts were called stipendiary magistrates and for historical reasons the bench was divided between metropolitan stipendiary magistrates who had jurisdiction in the inner London courts and provincial stipendiary magistrates who were appointed for individual areas or counties outside inner London In recent years the distinction between the two bodies was seen to be artificial not least because stipendiaries who sat in outer London were provincial whereas those in geographically adjoining courts were metropolitan In addition such geographical distinctions seemed out of place when professional judges in other jurisdictions District Judges for example were not restricted to particular areas for their work The government has recognised in the Access to Justice Act 1999 the identity of interest of all professional magistrates by unifying them into one body and has acknowledged the distinction between professional judges and lay magistrates by providing the title District Judge magistrates courts The provisions of the 1999 Act are the latest of a large number of changes to the ancient office of Justice which has its origins in a medieval system of courts and legal administration A brief history of the bench may be summarised as follows Until the middle of the eighteenth century summary justice was entirely in the hands of local unpaid citizens who were Justices of the Peace deriving their authority from ancient powers dating back to the Justices of the Peace Act 1361 This system generally worked well in country areas but after the great expansion of the cities in the early industrial revolution urban justices were often corrupt earning fees for licensing public houses and being remunerated for each criminal committed for trial The origins of a
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