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This 1999 book was the first full-length account of the county court, which in contemporary English life has become the main forum for most civil disputes. It began as the 'poor man's court', largely concerned with the pursuit of working-class debtors; but, as this book shows, it has expanded far beyond its origins as an agency `for the more easy recovery of small debts' and now includes in its jurisdiction a diverse range of matters, including housing, accidents and consumer goods. Drawing on a wide range of sources, the author traces the history of the county court from its creation in 1846 through to the reconstruction of the court system in 1971. He describes its organisation and officers, from judges to bailiffs, and discusses the roles of judges, practising lawyers and lay persons. The text is an intriguing engagement with themes including access to justice.