A Magistrates’ Court tries summary offences (i.e. offences where there is no jury to decide upon the verdict). A Magistrates’ Court will most often consist of three magistrates who will decide upon a verdict should you plead not guilty or simply move to deciding an appropriate penalty should you plead guilty. Magistrates are lay members of the public who are not legally qualified. Further, they are purely voluntary. Sometimes Magistrates’ Courts have District Judges sitting to hear cases instead. District Judges are qualified solicitors or Barristers. Both lay benches of Magistrates and District Judges are assisted by a legal adviser (formerly known as a Court clerk) sitting in Court. The legal adviser may very well be the person asking you all the questions, but does not take the final decision.
Magistrates and District Judges have the power to endorse your licence with points, impose a fine, disqualify you from driving and imprison you.