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A court is an official, public forum which is established by the lawful authority of a public power for the adjudication of disputes, and dispense civil, labour, administrative and criminal justice under the law. Some courts may function with a jury that make decisions about the facts before the court under the direction of the judge; in other courts, such as appellate courts, all decisions are made by judges. The extent of a court's power to hear the various matters which come before it is known as that court's jurisdiction, which is granted by a constitutional provision, Act of Parliament or by an enabling statute. In most civil law jurisdictions courts function under an inquisitorial system. In the common law system most courts are run on the adversarial system. The rules by which courts are run are procedural law, such as civil procedure for private disputes and criminal procedure for violation of the criminal law.
There are unipersonal and pluripersonal courts. The various matters which come before a pluripersonal court are usually assigned to a particular judge, or a judicial officer (such as a court commissioner) serving in the capacity of a judge pro tem. Every court has a presiding judge and may have one or more other judges and/or judicial officers assigned to various court departments.
For the (original) architectural meaning of court, see courtyard.
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