History and Premises
The term High Court can be traced back to the reform of the Administration of Justice Act that came into force in 1919. Since 1927, there have been two High Courts; the Eastern High Court in Copenhagen, and the Western High Court in Viborg.
Since 1919 the Eastern High Court has resided in premises at Bredgade 59. The main building was constructed in 1701-1703, originally to be used as an opera house, and has since been used for a variety of purposes. Between 1884-1918, the building housed the Danish Parliament. The main building is built in a Dutch Palladian style with colossal pilastre and characteristic ornamented brickwork. Additionally, the Eastern High Court also sits in premises at Bredgade 42 (The Bernstorffian Palace, constructed 1754-56) and at Fredericiagade 26.
Cases and their Handling
The High Courts act as courts of appeal for the decisions rendered by the district courts. The High Courts hear both civil and criminal cases. Civil cases are cases between persons (real or legal), as well as cases between these and public authorities.
If a civil case concerns a matter of principle, the district courts can refer the case to be treated by the High Courts as courts of first instance. Jury trials, i.e. cases where the state submits a plea of 4 years imprisonment or more, and the accused pleads not guilty, have hitherto been tried by the High Courts as courts of first instance. From 2008, these cases are dealt with by the district courts as courts of first instance.
Cases decided by the High Courts as courts of appeal can only be brought before the Supreme Court if leave is granted by the Appeals Permission Board.
Cases brought before the High Courts are heard by a panel of 3 High Court judges sitting together. In ordinary criminal cases, 3 lay judges also participate, whereas in jury trials 9 jurors participate.
The Eastern High Court geographically covers the Copenhagen Capital Region, Zealand Region, parts of South Denmark Region (the Funen municipalities) and the Faroe Islands. In addition to the premises located in Copenhagen, the Eastern High Court also has courtrooms in Rønne, Nykøbing Falster, Odense and the Faroe Islands.
In 2016 the Eastern High Court closed 1836 civil cases and 1795 criminal cases. Furthermore, the Eastern High Court also closed 1690 interlocutory orders in civil cases and 1574 interlocutory orders in criminal cases. Interlocutory orders may concern minor matters such as pre-trial detention or legal costs, and are typically dealt with in writing.
In total, the Eastern High Court therefore closed 6.805 cases in 2016.
In accordance with the Danish Administration of Justice Act, the Eastern High Court is composed of a President and 56 appointed High Court judges. In addition, there are about 13 judges appointed ad interim. The Eastern High Court is currently divided into 24 departments with 3 High Court judges in each department.
An administrative director and a head of the secretariat assist the President in managerial and administrative tasks.
Other members of staff in the various departments perform administrative and technical functions.
In total, the equivalent of 149 employees were employed at the Eastern High Court in 2016.
The Courts of Denmark.