Magistrates' Court Corporation

Wayne Leigthon made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Law Commission

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Law Commission Nid oedd gan y wybodaeth y gofynnwyd amdani.

Dear Law Commission,

I note from a previous Request that you have done a report concerning Halsbury and seals by certain types of corporations. My Request today is to clarify a specific on that Report

1. Is a Magistrates Court a Corporation Sole or a Corporation Aggregate?

Yours faithfully,

Wayne Leighton

LAWCOM (FOI), Law Commission

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before we send you a substantive reply.

Thank you,

Law Commission

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dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

LAWCOM (FOI), Law Commission

Dear Wayne Leighton,

Thank you for your request for information dated 20/04/2019 and received in this office on 23/04/2019.
We acknowledge receipt. We are handling your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We will respond to you as promptly as possible and, in any event, will provide the information you seek within 20 working days from receipt of your request, unless it transpires that we do not hold the information or that the information is exempt from disclosure. In the latter event we will advise you why the information sought cannot be disclosed.

Your request for information will be handled within the Commission by the Commercial and Common Law team.

If you have any query in the meantime relating to your request please contact Sade King in this office (020-3334 0431) who acts as the Commission’s FoI co-ordinator.

Kind regards,

Jamil Hussain | Law Commission
Corporate Services Team Assistant
1st Floor, Tower, Post Point 1.54, 52 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AG
(access via 102 Petty France)
Tel: 020 3334 0443 | Web:
Email: [email address]
For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

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Burgoyne, Laura, Law Commission

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Leighton


Thank you for your email of 20 April. I am writing now to advise you that
we have made a search of our records and have concluded that the
Commission does not hold the information which you are seeking.


We published an Advice to Government in 2001 on [1]Electronic Commerce:
Formal requirements in commercial transactions and a consultation paper in
2018 on [2]Electronic execution of documents. We are currently preparing a
final report on the latter. The 2018 consultation paper refers briefly to
corporations sole and aggregate (see page 45, footnote 36), but does not
discuss the status of courts and we have not researched into this matter.


As a law reform body, we are not able to give legal advice. However, in
case it is of assistance, I have attached relevant chapters from
Halsbury’s on corporations aggregate and corporations sole. They do not
suggest that magistrates courts fall within these definitions.


If you are not content with the manner in which we have handled your
request for information you can ask us to conduct an internal review of
the request. Please write to Sade King, our FoI co-ordinator, to at our
FOI email address, and she will explain and initiate the internal
procedure for you. We ask that your request for a review is made within
two months of the date of this email.


If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request you have a
right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9




Laura Burgoyne | Law Commission

Head of Commercial and Common Law

Tel: 020 3334 5327| [mobile number]

Email: [email address]

For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our
Privacy Notice





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Dear Laura,

Firstly, I would just like to say thank you. As a researcher, I find that a large proportion of public authorities who do actually hold the information are reluctant in providing it without persistence from the requester, or fail to adhere in anyway to their s.16(1) duty under the Act.

You on the other hand, whilst not actually holding the information, have been helpful. I appreciate that. The information you have supplied is of value.

I also thank you for your prompt and efficient response. Again, I regularly find public authorities failing to comply with their s.10 duty under the Act

You are certainly a credit to the Law Commission without a single shadow of doubt.

I do, however, find this area very concerning. Not knowing the legal status of the identify of a court is a worrying thing considering the power it is exercising. For example, the Crown, and Home Office have been defined as a Corporation Sole. As all courts as a general rule, have a chief justice, it could be argued that it does have a distinct personality in this respect.

The legal status of a court would, in my view, be a paramount issue considering the difference in laws that could be applicable to it. For example, the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989 removed the need for a seal on Aggregate Corporation but it did not remove the need for a seal on a Corporation Sole. Is this not an issue that needs clarifying? Please do forgive me if there is some clarification in the Halsbury sections you sent me but I could see none that would answer that question, which I believe, is a question of significant public interest.

Yours sincerely,

Wayne Leighton

Burgoyne, Laura, Law Commission

2 Atodiad

Dear Mr Leighton

I'm pleased you found it of some help at least! I agree that the question of the legal status of courts may be an important one in several scenarios. However, we are not a legal research body as such - we research the current law where it is has been suggested that changes need to be made, and this is not such an area. So I'm afraid it comes back to the "we are not the appropriate body" response which I know is frustrating - but equally I am sure that the courts service would know the answer.

We did have a quick look at our end but couldn't find a definitive answer (and, as I said, we are in any case not allowed to give legal advice). I think you would need to clarify this with HMCTS. In my individual capacity (please do not quote this as being the view of the Law Commission), I can just tell you that the best we could come up with is that the courts appear to be seen as an emanation of the Crown’s power, and established by royal prerogative: see and attached. The Crown is both a corporation sole and a corporation aggregate (see again Halsbury’s Volume 20, Constitutional and Admin Law, 2014 – para 150). The Act establishing the UK Supreme Court, for example, does not appear to contain any mention of it being a corporation sole or aggregate.

I'm sorry that I and the Commission cannot be of further assistance and I wish you luck in your search for the answer.



Laura Burgoyne | Law Commission
Head of Commercial and Common Law
Tel: 020 3334 5327| [mobile number]
Email: [email address]
For information about how we handle your personal data, please see our Privacy Notice

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Thanking you kindly.

Yours sincerely,
Wayne Leighton