In the Republic of Ireland a "circuit court" is part of the Courts of First Instance, which replaced the Assize Court used before the Irish Free State reformed the justice system. The circuit court system includes a judge and jury system, but is not allowed to hear, among others, murder, treason or rape cases. The civil jurisdiction of the court is limited to damages of €38,092 and actions involving land with a ratable value of less than €254 (Land value worth approx. €3 million).
The name "circuit court" is also informally used to refer to the existing United States court of appeals. Those courts were officially known as United States circuit courts of appeals from their establishment in 1894 until their name was changed to United States courts of appeals in 1947.
In Virginia, for example, a circuit court is a court of record that has appellate jurisdiction over a county's general district court and juvenile and domestic relations court and original jurisdiction over major civil cases and all the county's felony cases. A circuit court has the power to issue death sentences and impanel grand juries. The court's decisions become legal precedents.
In many states, such as Missouri, a judicial circuit can encompass one or more counties. Each circuit court can have several divisions, including circuit, associate, small claims, probate, family or drug court. Each division hears cases within its particular area of subject-matter jurisdiction, and jurisdiction is based on the size or type of a civil claim, or the severity or type of a criminal charge. Drug court, for example, hears only drug-related criminal cases.
The system is overseen by the Lord Chancellor. The membership consists of High Court Judges, Circuit Judges, District Judges, law practitioners and academic lawyers. The Circuits also form the basis for administration of the Bar in England and Wales. The Circuit Bars are represented on the Bar Council through the Circuit Leaders. .
The circuit office is run by the circuit secretary in Winchester. A newsletter is published each term.
The Circuit has published three books, Pie Powder; Circuit Ghosts; and Recollections of the Western Circuit
The Wales and Chester circuit has been disbanded following the Government of Wales Act 2006. Wales now has its own circuit in readiness for any 'Welsh laws' passed by the National Assembly for Wales