English law

English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising mainly criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures.[1][2]

Principal elements of English law

England's most authoritative law is statutory legislation, which comprises Acts of Parliament, regulations[3] and by-laws. In the absence of any statutory law, the common law with its principle of stare decisis forms the residual source of law, based on judicial decisions, custom, and usage.[4][5]

Common law is made by sitting judges who apply both statutory law and established principles which are derived from the reasoning from earlier decisions. Equity is the other historic source of judge-made law. Common law can be amended or repealed by Parliament.[6][7]

Not being a civil law system, English law has no comprehensive codification.[8] However, most of its criminal law has been codified from its common law origins, in the interests both of certainty and of ease of prosecution.[9][10] For the time being, murder remains a common law crime rather than a statutory offence.[11][12][13][14]

Although Scotland and Northern Ireland form part of the United Kingdom and share Westminster as a primary legislature, they have separate legal systems outside of English Law.

International treaties such as the European Union's Treaty of Rome[15] or the Hague-Visby Rules have effect in English law only when adopted and ratified by Act of Parliament.[16] Adopted treaties may be subsequently denounced by executive action.[17]. Unless the denouncement or withdraw would affect rights enacted by parliament. In this case executive action cannot be used due to the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty. This principle was established in the case of Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in 2017.

Legal terminology

Criminal law & civil law

Criminal law is the law of crime and punishment whereby the Crown prosecutes the accused. Civil law is concerned with tort, contract, families, companies and so on. Civil law courts operate to provide a party[18] who has an enforceable claim with a remedy such as damages or a declaration.[19]

Common law & civil law

In this context, civil law is the system of codified law that is prevalent in Europe. Civil law is founded on the ideas of Roman Law.[20] By contrast, English law is the archetypal common law jurisdiction, built upon case law.[21]

Common law & equity

In this context, common law means the judge-made law of the King's Bench; whereas equity is the judge-made law of the (now-defunct) Court of Chancery.[22] Equity is concerned mainly with trusts and equitable remedies. Equity generally operates in accordance with the principles known as the "maxims of equity".[23][24]

The reforming Judicature Acts of the 1880s amalgamated the courts into one Supreme Court of Judicature which was directed to administer both law and equity.[25] The neo-gothic Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London, were built shortly afterwards to celebrate these reforms.

Public law & private law

Public Law[26] is the law governing relationships between individuals and the state. Private law encompasses relationships between private individuals and other private entities (but may also cover "private" relationships between the government and private entities).

Legal remedies

A remedy is "the means given by law for the recovery of a right, or of compensation for its infringement".[27] Most remedies are available only from the court, but some are "self-help" remedies; for instance, a party who lawfully wishes to cancel[28] a contract may do so without leave;[29][30][31] and a person may take his own steps to "abate a private nuisance". Formerly, most civil actions claiming damages in the High Court were commenced by obtaining a writ issued in the Queen's name. After 1979, writs have merely required the parties to appear, and writs are no longer issued in the name of the Crown.[32] Now, after the Woolf Reforms of 1999, almost all civil actions other than those connected with insolvency, are commenced by the completion of a Claim Form [33] as opposed to a Writ, Originating Application, or Summons.[34]

Sources of English Law

In England, there is a hierarchy of sources, as follows:[35]

  • Legislation (primary and secondary)
  • The case law rules of common law and equity, derived from precedent decisions
  • Parliamentary conventions[36]
  • General Customs
  • Books of authority[37]
SirWilliamBlackstone
Sir William Blackstone in 1774, after his appointment as a Justice of the Court of King's Bench

Statute law

Primary legislation in the UK may take the following forms:

Orders in Council are a sui generis category of legislation.

Secondary (or "delegated") legislation in England includes:

Statutes are cited in this fashion: "Short Title Year", e.g. Theft Act 1968.[38][39] This became the usual way to refer to Acts from 1840 onwards; previously Acts were cited by their long title with the regnal year of the parliamentary session when they received Royal Assent, and the chapter number. For example, the Pleading in English Act 1362 (which required pleadings to be in English and not Law French) was referred to as 36 Edw. III c. 15, meaning "36th year of the reign of Edward III, chapter 15".[40] (By contrast, American convention inserts "of", as in "Civil Rights Act of 1964").

Common law

Common law is a term with historical origins in the legal system of England. It denotes, in the first place, the judge-made law that developed from the early Middle Ages as described in a work published at the end of the 19th century, The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I,[41] in which Pollock and Maitland expanded the work of Coke (17th century) and Blackstone (18th century). Specifically, the law developed in England's Court of Common Pleas and other common law courts, which became also the law of the colonies settled initially under the crown of England or, later, of the United Kingdom, in North America and elsewhere; and this law as further developed after those courts in England were reorganised by the Supreme Court of Judicature Acts passed in the 1870s, and developed independently, in the legal systems of the United States and other jurisdictions, after their independence from the United Kingdom, before and after the 1870s. The term is used, in the second place, to denote the law developed by those courts, in the same periods (pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial), as distinct from within the jurisdiction, or former jurisdiction, of other courts in England: the Court of Chancery, the ecclesiastical courts, and the Admiralty court.

In the Oxford English Dictionary (1933) "common law" is described as "The unwritten law of England, administered by the King's courts, which purports to be derived from ancient usage, and is embodied in the older commentaries and the reports of abridged cases", as opposed, in that sense, to statute law, and as distinguished from the equity administered by the Chancery and similar courts, and from other systems such as ecclesiastical law, and admiralty law.[42] For usage in the United States the description is "the body of legal doctrine which is the foundation of the law administered in all states settled from England, and those formed by later settlement or division from them".[43]

Professor John Makdisi's article "The Islamic Origins of the Common Law" in the North Carolina Law Review[44] theorized that English common law was influenced by medieval Islamic law.[45] Makdisi drew comparisons between the "royal English contract protected by the action of debt" and the "Islamic Aqd", the "English assize of novel disseisin" (a petty assize adopted in the 1166 at the Assizes of Clarendon) and the "Islamic Istihqaq", and the "English jury" and the "Islamic Lafif" in the classical Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, and argued that these institutions were transmitted to England by the Normans,[44] "through the close connection between the Norman kingdoms of Roger II in Sicily — ruling over a conquered Islamic administration — and Henry II in England."[46] Makdisi also argued that the "law schools known as Inns of Court" in England (which he asserts are parallel to Madrasahs) may have also originated from Islamic law.[44] He states that the methodology of legal precedent and reasoning by analogy (Qiyas) are also similar in both the Islamic and common law systems.[47] Other legal scholars such as Monica Gaudiosi, Gamal Moursi Badr and A. Hudson have argued that the English trust and agency institutions, which were introduced by Crusaders, may have been adapted from the Islamic Waqf and Hawala institutions they came across in the Middle East.[48][49] Paul Brand also notes parallels between the Waqf and the trusts used to establish Merton College by Walter de Merton, who had connections with the Knights Templar.[45]

Early development

In 1276, the concept of "time immemorial" often applied in common law was defined as being any time before 6 July 1189 (i.e. before Richard I's accession to the English throne).

Since 1189, English law has been a common law, not a civil law system; in other words, no comprehensive codification of the law has taken place and judicial precedents are binding as opposed to persuasive. This may be a legacy of the Norman conquest of England, when a number of legal concepts and institutions from Norman law were introduced to England. In the early centuries of English common law, the justices and judges were responsible for adapting the system of writs to meet everyday needs, applying a mixture of precedent and common sense to build up a body of internally consistent law. An example is the Law Merchant derived from the "Pie-Powder" Courts, named from a corruption of the French pieds-poudrés ("dusty feet") implying ad hoc marketplace courts.

Following Montesquieu's theory of the "separation of powers", only Parliament has the power to legislate; but in the event of a statute being ambiguous, the courts have exclusive power to decide its true meaning, using the principles of statutory interpretation. Since the courts have no authority to legislate, the "legal fiction" is that they "declare" (rather than "create") the common law. The House of Lords took this "declaratory power" a stage further in DPP v Shaw,[50] where, in creating the new crime of "conspiracy to corrupt public morals", Viscount Simonds claimed the court had a "residual power to protect the moral welfare of the state".[51][52] As Parliament became ever more established and influential, Parliamentary legislation gradually overtook judicial law-making such that today's judges are able to innovate only in certain very narrowly defined areas.

Precedent

One of the major challenges in the early centuries was to produce a system that was certain in its operation and predictable in its outcomes. Too many judges were either partial or incompetent, acquiring their positions only by virtue of their rank in society. Thus, a standardised procedure slowly emerged, based on a system termed stare decisis which roughly means "let the decision stand". The doctrine of precedent which requires similar cases to be adjudicated in a like manner, falls under the principle of stare decisis. Thus, the ratio decidendi (reason for decision) of each case will bind future cases on the same generic set of facts both horizontally and vertically in the court structure. The highest appellate court in the UK is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and its decisions are binding on every other court in the hierarchy which are obliged to apply its rulings as the law of the land. The Court of Appeal binds the lower courts, and so on.

In England, judges have devised a number of rules as to how to deal with precedent decisions.

Overseas influences

The-queens-dominions
Map of the British Empire under Queen Victoria at the end of the nineteenth century. "Dominions" refers to all territories belonging to the Crown.

Reciprocity

England exported its common law and statute law to most parts of the British Empire, and many aspects of that system have survived after Independence from British rule, and the influences are often reciprocal. "English law" prior to the American Revolutionary Wars (American War of Independence) is still an influence on United States law, and provides the basis for many American legal traditions and principles. (In the United States each state has its own supreme court with final appellate jurisdiction, while the US Supreme Court has the final say over federal matters).[53]

Jurisdictions that have kept to the common law may incorporate modern legal developments from England, and English decisions are usually persuasive in such jurisdictions.

Courts of final appeal

After Britain's colonial period, jurisdictions that had inherited and adopted England's common law[54] developed their courts of final appeal in differing ways: jurisdictions still under the British crown are subject to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.[55] For a long period, the British Dominions used London's Privy Council as their final appeal court, although one by one they eventually established their local Supreme Court. New Zealand was the last Dominion to abandon the Privy Council, setting up its own Supreme Court in 2004.[56] Even after independence, many former British colonies in the Commonwealth continued to use the Privy Council, as it offered a readily available high grade service. In particular, several Caribbean island nations found the Privy Council advantageous.

International law and commerce

Britain is a dualist in its relationship with international law, so international treaties must be formally ratified by Parliament and incorporated into statute before such supranational laws become binding in the UK.[57][58][59][60]

Britain has long been a major trading nation, exerting a strong influence on the law of shipping and maritime trade. The English law of salvage,[61] collisions,[62] ship arrest,[63] and carriage of goods by sea[64] are subject to international conventions which Britain played a leading role in drafting. Many of these conventions incorporate principles derived from English common law[65] and documentary procedures.[66]

British jurisdictions

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland comprises three legal jurisdictions: England & Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Although Scotland and Northern Ireland form part of the United Kingdom and share the Parliament at Westminster as the primary legislature, they have separate legal systems. Scotland became part of the UK over 300 years ago, but Scots law has remained remarkably distinct from English law. The UK's highest civil appeal court is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, whose decisions are binding on all three UK jurisdictions, as in Donoghue v Stevenson, a Scots case that forms the basis of the UK's law of negligence.[67]

Application of English law to Wales

Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales is not a separate jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. The customary laws of Wales within the Kingdom of England were abolished by King Henry VIII's Laws in Wales Acts which brought Wales into legal conformity with England. While Wales now has a devolved Assembly, any legislation which that Assembly passes is enacted in particular circumscribed policy areas defined by the Government of Wales Act 2006, other legislation of the British Parliament, or by Orders in Council given under the authority of the 2006 Act.

Between 1746 and 1967, any reference to England in legislation was deemed to include Wales. This ceased with the enactment of the Welsh Language Act 1967 and the jurisdiction is now commonly referred to as "England and Wales". Although devolution has accorded some degree of political autonomy to Wales in the National Assembly for Wales, it did not have the ability to pass primary legislation until the Government of Wales Act 2006 came into force after the 2007 Welsh general election. That said, the Welsh legal system remains English common law, in that the legal system administered through both civil and criminal courts remains unified throughout England and Wales. This is different from the situation of Northern Ireland, for example, which did not cease to be a distinct jurisdiction when its legislature was suspended (see Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972). A major difference is also the use of the Welsh language, as laws concerning it apply in Wales and not in the rest of the United Kingdom. The Welsh Language Act 1993 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which put the Welsh language on an equal footing with the English language in Wales with regard to the public sector. Welsh may also be spoken in Welsh courts.

Main subject areas

See also

Chief Justice Coke's rulings in

Notes

  1. ^ For Civil procedure, see Civil procedure in England and Wales
  2. ^ For Criminal procedure, see Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996
  3. ^ English regulations are not to be confused with EU Regulations
  4. ^ Collins English Dictionary
  5. ^ It is characteristic of the common law to adopt an approach based "on precedent, and on the development of the law incrementally and by analogy with established authorities", Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Supreme Court, [2018] UKSC 4, para. 21.[1]
  6. ^ For example, section 4 of the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992 repealed the rule in Grant v Norway (1851) 10 CB 665.
  7. ^ The old estates in land were replaced by new provisions in the 1925 property legislation
  8. ^ Two areas of commercial law, sale of goods and marine insurance, were codified into (respectively) the Sale of Goods Act 1893 and the Marine Insurance Act 1906. These Acts have been such a notable success that it is curious that so little such codification has occurred.
  9. ^ Law Commission Report on the Codification of the Criminal Law
  10. ^ Fisher v Bell [1961] 1 QB 394
  11. ^ Law Commission Consultation Paper no. 177 - "A New Homicide Act for England and Wales?"
  12. ^ Newspaper report on proposed changes to homicide law
  13. ^ In contentious cases, such as the battered wife's revenge, or family mercy killings, English juries have been glad of the ability to treat a clear murder as though it were manslaughter.
  14. ^ "Woman walks free after mercy killing case". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-08-03.
  15. ^ Now renamed as "Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
  16. ^ E.g. Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971: s.1(1)In this Act, “the Rules” means the International Convention for the unification of certain rules of law relating to bills of lading (...). s.1(2)The provisions of the Rules, as set out in the Schedule to this Act, shall have the force of law.
  17. ^ e.g. Arrest Convention 1952 Art. 17
  18. ^ ... or "claimant", "plaintiff", "petitioner" etc.
  19. ^ Other remedies include equitable relief such as an injunction and account of profits.
  20. ^ E.g. the Napoleonic Code in France
  21. ^ Penny Darbyshire writes: "... in England ... at no time was it felt necessary to look outside the principles of common law or equity for assistance. Inevitably, through the ecclesiastical courts in particular, some Roman law influence can be traced, but in general terms this is very limited". - Darbyshire on the English Legal System (2017)
  22. ^ The Judicature Acts of 1873-75 abolished the Court of Chancery and "fused" law and equity. Today, equity cases are mostly dealt with in the Chancery Division of the High Court.
  23. ^ Equitable maxims include: "Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy", "Equity acts on the person" and "He who comes into equity must come with clean hands".
  24. ^ Snell, Edmund Henry Turner; Megarry, R.E.; Baker, P.V. (1960). Snell's Principles of Equity (25 ed.). London: Sweet & Maxwell. p. 24
  25. ^ Snell, Edmund Henry Turner; Megarry, R.E.; Baker, P.V. (1960). Snell's Principles of Equity (25 ed.). London: Sweet & Maxwell. p. 10
  26. ^ This distinction is borrowed from civil law systems, and is neither as useful nor as appropriate in England as in Europe.
  27. ^ Law Dictionary (10th ed) - E.R.Hardy Ivamay - Butterworths
  28. ^ Using repudiation or rescission, (as the case may be)
  29. ^ If the other party feels that the first was wrong to cancel, he may ask a court to "declare the contract subsisting".
  30. ^ See Hong Kong Fir Shipping Co Ltd v Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd 1961] EWCA Civ 7
  31. ^ Misrepresentation Act 1967 s.2
  32. ^ Rules of the Supreme Court (Writ and Appearance) 1979 (Statutory Instrument 1979, No. 1716)[2], discussed in House of Lords in 1980,[3]
  33. ^ ...as prescribed by Rules 7 How to start proceedings and 8 Alternative procedure for claims of the Civil Procedure Rules)
  34. ^ The Civil Procedure Rules 1998
  35. ^ Slapper & Kelly - English Legal System - Routledge- 2016
  36. ^ Note: Parliamentary conventions should not be confused with International Conventions, which are Treaties adopted and ratified by Parliament.
  37. ^ Such as Coke and Blackstone.
  38. ^ Before 1963 Acts were cited with a comma between the Short Title and the year, e.g. "Acts of Parliament Numbering and Citation Act, 1962".[4] The comma has since been dropped, e.g. "British Museum Act 1963"[5]
  39. ^ See also: acts listed in First Schedule to Short Titles Act, 1896)[6] where the title is the "short title", and ends in "Act", as in "Interpretation Act 1978".
  40. ^ Although in the past this was all spelt out, together with the long title.
  41. ^ The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, 2 vols., on line, with notes, by Professor S. F. C. Milsom, originally published in Cambridge University Press’s 1968 reissue.[7]
  42. ^ OED, 1933 edition: citations supporting that description, before Blackstone, are from the 14th and 16th centuries.
  43. ^ OED, 1933 edition: citations supporting that description are two from 19th century sources.
  44. ^ a b c Makdisi, John A. (June 1999). The Islamic Origins of the Common Law. North Carolina Law Review. 77. University of North Carolina School of Law. pp. 1635–1739.CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
  45. ^ a b Mukul Devichand (24 September 2008). "Is English law related to Muslim law?". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  46. ^ Hussain, Jamila (2001). "Book Review: The Justice of Islam by Lawrence Rosen". Melbourne University Law Review. 30.
  47. ^ El-Gamal, Mahmoud A. (2006). Islamic Finance: Law, Economics, and Practice. Cambridge University Press. p. 16. ISBN 0-521-86414-3.
  48. ^ Gaudiosi, Monica M. (April 1988). "The Influence of the Islamic Law of Waqf on the Development of the Trust in England: The Case of Merton College". University of Pennsylvania Law Review. 136 (4): 1231–1261. doi:10.2307/3312162. JSTOR 3312162.
  49. ^ Badr, Gamal Moursi (Spring 1978). "Islamic Law: Its Relation to Other Legal Systems". The American Journal of Comparative Law. 26 (2 – Proceedings of an International Conference on Comparative Law, Salt Lake City, Utah, February 24–25, 1977): 187–198 [196–8]. doi:10.2307/839667. JSTOR 839667.
  50. ^ Shaw v DPP1962 AC 220 HL [n]
  51. ^ Shaw v DPP case summary
  52. ^ Viscount Simonds: "There remains in the Courts of Law a residual power to enforce the supreme and fundamental purpose of the law, to conserve not only the safety and order but also the moral welfare of the State, and that it is their duty to guard it against attacks which may be the more insidious because they are novel and unprepared for."
  53. ^ Liam Boyle, An Australian August Corpus: Why There is Only One Common Law in Australia, Bond Law Review, Volume 27, 2015.[8]
  54. ^ In this context, "common law" has been described as a body of judge-made law enforced and developed by the courts which includes equity and admiralty law, and which has always been "unintelligible without reference to statute". Liam Boyle: An Australian August Corpus: Why There is Only One Common Law in Australia, Bond Law Review, Volume 27, 2015. p.29 II Some Preliminary Propositions[9]
  55. ^ The USA, Britain's first colony to be "lost", has a central federal Supreme Court as well as a "Supreme Court" in each state.
  56. ^ Any decisions of the Privy Council made before the change of jurisdiction; these changes resulting from the creation in 2008 of the UK Supreme Court, remain binding legal precedent.
  57. ^ Mere agreement to the final text of a treaty is only the first stage, hence "dualist". For instance, Britain has yet to ratify the terms of the Arrest Convention 1999, so the earlier 1952 Treaty is still in place.
  58. ^ Ratification after agreement of a final text often takes decades. In the case of the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006, even though the EU instructed Member States to adopt the MLC, this "fast-tracked" treaty still did not come into force until 2013.
  59. ^ For example, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was signed in 1950 and Britain allowed individuals to directly petition the European Commission on Human Rights from 1966. Now s6(1) Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) makes it unlawful "... for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a convention right", where a "public authority" is any person or body which exercises a public function, expressly including the courts but expressly excluding Parliament.
  60. ^ Although the European Convention has begun to be applied to the acts of non-state agents, the Human Rights Act (HRA) does not make the Convention specifically applicable between private parties. Courts have taken the Convention into account in interpreting the common law. They also must take the Convention into account in interpreting Acts of Parliament, but must ultimately follow the terms of the Act even if inconsistent with the Convention (s3 HRA).
  61. ^ 1989 Salvage Convention
  62. ^ COLREGS
  63. ^ 1952 Arrest Convention
  64. ^ The Hague-Visby Rules
  65. ^ such as the rule on deviation
  66. ^ such as the Lloyd's Open Form
  67. ^ Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] UKHL [1932] UKHL
  68. ^ English criminal law derives its main principles from the common law. The main elements of a crime are the actus reus (doing something which is criminally prohibited) and a mens rea (having the requisite criminal state of mind, usually intention or recklessness). A prosecutor must show that a person has caused the offensive conduct, or that the culprit had some pre-existing duty to take steps to avoid a criminal consequence. The types of different crimes range from those well known ones like manslaughter, murder, theft and robbery to a plethora of regulatory and statutory offences. It is estimated that in the UK, there are 3,500 classes of criminal offence. Certain defences may exist to crimes, which include self-defence, intention, necessity, duress, and in the case of a murder charge, under the Homicide Act 1957, diminished responsibility, provocation and, in very rare cases, survival of a suicide pact. It has often been suggested that England and Wales should codify its criminal law in an English Criminal Code, but there has been no overwhelming support for this in the past.

References

  • Beale, Joseph H. (1935) A Treatise on the Conflict of Laws. ISBN 1-58477-425-8
  • Darbyshire, Penny (2017) Darbyshire on the English Legal System - 12th ed - Sweet & Maxwell - ISBN 9780414057852
  • Dicey & Morris (1993). The Conflict of Laws - 12th edition - Sweet & Maxwell ISBN 0-420-48280-6
  • Slapper, Gary; David Kelly (2016). The English Legal System. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-94445-9.
  • Barnett, Hilaire (2008). Constitutional & Administrative Law. London: Routledge-Cavendish. ISBN 978-0-415-45829-0.

Further reading

  • Milsom, S.F.C., A Natural History of the Common Law. Columbia University Press (2003) ISBN 0231129947
  • Milsom, S.F.C., Historical Foundations of the Common Law (2nd ed.). Lexis Law Publishing (Va), (1981) ISBN 0406625034
  • Fleming, Justin, Barbarism to Verdict - A History of the Common Law Published January 1, 1994 by Angus & Robertson Publishers ISBN 0207179298

External links

Annoyance

Annoyance is an unpleasant mental state that is characterized by such effects as irritation and distraction from one's conscious thinking. It can lead to emotions such as frustration and anger. The property of being easily annoyed is called irritability.

Call to the bar

The call to the bar is a legal term of art in most common law jurisdictions where persons must be qualified to be allowed to argue in court on behalf of another party and are then said to have been "called to the bar" or to have received a "call to the bar". "The bar" is now used as a collective noun for barristers, but literally referred to the wooden barrier in old courtrooms, which separated the often crowded public area at the rear from the space near the judges reserved for those having business with the Court. Barristers would sit or stand immediately behind it, facing the judge, and could use it as a table for their briefs.

Like many other common law terms, the term originated in England in the Middle Ages, and the call to the bar refers to the summons issued to one found fit to speak at the 'bar' of the royal courts. In time, English judges allowed only legally qualified men to address them on the law and later delegated the qualification and admission of barristers to the four Inns of Court. Once an Inn calls one of its members to its bar, they are thereafter a barrister. They may not, however, practise as a barrister until they have completed (or been exempted from) an apprenticeship called pupillage. After completing pupillage, they are considered to be a practising barrister with a right of audience before all courts.

England and Wales and some other jurisdictions distinguish two types of lawyers, who are regulated by different bodies, with separate training, examinations, regulation and traditions:

Barristers primarily practise in court and generally specialise in advocacy in a particular field of law; they have a right of audience in all courts of England and Wales.

Solicitors do not necessarily undertake court work, but have a right of audience in the lower courts (magistrates' courts and county courts). They are admitted or enrolled as a solicitor, to conduct litigation and practise in law outside court, e.g., providing legal advice to lay clients and acting on their behalf in legal matters.A solicitor must additionally qualify as a solicitor-advocate in order to acquire the same "higher rights" of audience as a barrister. In other jurisdictions, the terminology and the degree of overlap between the roles of solicitor and barrister varies greatly; in most, the distinction has disappeared entirely.

Deed poll

A deed poll (plural: deeds poll) is a legal document binding only to a single person or several persons acting jointly to express an active intention. It is, strictly speaking, not a contract because it binds only one party and expresses an intention instead of a promise.

Due process

Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due process violation, which offends the rule of law.

Due process has also been frequently interpreted as limiting laws and legal proceedings (see substantive due process) so that judges, instead of legislators, may define and guarantee fundamental fairness, justice, and liberty. That interpretation has proven controversial. Analogous to the concepts of natural justice, and procedural justice used in various other jurisdictions, the interpretation of due process is sometimes expressed as a command that the government must not be unfair to the people or abuse them physically. The term is not used in contemporary English law, but two similar concepts are natural justice, which generally applies only to decisions of administrative agencies and some types of private bodies like trade unions, and the British constitutional concept of the rule of law as articulated by A. V. Dicey and others. However, neither concept lines up perfectly with the American theory of due process, which, as explained below, presently contains many implied rights not found in either ancient or modern concepts of due process in England.Due process developed from clause 39 of Magna Carta in England. Reference to due process first appeared in a statutory rendition of clause 39 in 1354 thus: "No man of what state or condition he be, shall be put out of his lands or tenements nor taken, nor disinherited, nor put to death, without he be brought to answer by due process of law." When English and American law gradually diverged, due process was not upheld in England but became incorporated in the US Constitution.

England and Wales

England and Wales (Welsh: Cymru a Lloegr) is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four nations of the United Kingdom. "England and Wales" forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows a single legal system, known as English law.

The devolved National Assembly for Wales (Welsh: Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru) was created in 1999 by the Parliament of the United Kingdom under the Government of Wales Act 1998 and provides a degree of self-government in Wales. The powers of the Assembly were expanded by the Government of Wales Act 2006, which allows it to pass its own laws, and the Act also formally separated the Welsh Government from the Assembly. There is no equivalent body for England, which is directly governed by the Parliament and the government of the United Kingdom.

Freehold (law)

In common law jurisdictions (e.g. England and Wales, United States, Australia, Canada, and Ireland), a freehold is the common ownership of real property, or land, and all immovable structures attached to such land, as opposed to a leasehold, in which the property reverts to the owner of the land after the lease period has expired. For an estate to be a freehold, it must possess two qualities: immobility (property must be land or some interest issuing out of or annexed to land) and ownership of it must be of an indeterminate duration. If the time of ownership can be fixed and determined, it cannot be a freehold.

In England and Wales, before the Law of Property Act 1925, a freehold estate transferable to the owner's "heirs and assigns" (that is, successors by inheritance, or purchase (including gift), respectively) was a fee simple estate. When transfer, by inheritance or otherwise, was limited to lineal descendants ("heirs of the body" or "heirs of the blood") of the first person to whom the estate was given, it was a fee tail estate. There were also freehold estates not of inheritance, such as an estate for life.

Halsbury's Statutes

Halsbury's Statutes of England and Wales (commonly referred to as Halsbury's Statutes) provides updated texts of every Public General Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Measure of the Welsh Assembly, or Church of England Measure currently in force in England and Wales (and to various extents in Scotland and Northern Ireland), as well as a number of private and local Acts, with detailed annotations to each section and Schedule of each Act. It incorporates the effects of new Acts of Parliament and secondary legislation into existing legislation to provide a consolidated "as amended" text of the current statute book.

Halsbury's Statutes was created in 1929. The full title of this work was The Complete Statutes of England Classified and Annotated in Continuation of Halsbury’s Laws of England and for ready reference entitled Halsbury’s Statutes of England. As indicated by the title, the new work was to be a companion to Halsbury’s Laws of England and therefore bears the name of Lord Halsbury.

The first edition, in twenty volumes, appeared between 1929 and 1931. The new encyclopedia was based on the design of the earlier Butterworths’ Twentieth Century Statutes (Annotated), a work in five volumes covering the Acts of 1900 to 1909, which had been kept up to date by annual supplemental volumes. Like its companion, Halsbury's Laws, it was arranged by subject matter. This new work, however, expanded on the previous statutory work in that it included all primary legislation in force at the time of publication.

The second edition in 33 volumes was published from 1948 to 1954.The current edition (the fourth), in fifty volumes, was published between 1985 and 1992, and is supplemented by an annual hardbound supplement and periodic loose-leaf updates. It is published by LexisNexis Butterworths. Individual volumes are reissued when there has been a significant impact on the subject matter concerned through changes in legislation.

The complete set consists of the main volumes, the index, tables of statutes, secondary legislation and cases, the annual Cumulative Supplement and the quarterly looseleaf service. Halsbury's Statutes is also available as a searchable electronic archive on a paid subscription basis.

Law of Gibraltar

The law of Gibraltar is a combination of common law

and statute, and is based heavily upon English law.

The English Law (Application) Act of 1962 stipulates that English common law will apply to Gibraltar unless overridden by Gibraltar law. However, as Gibraltar is a self-governing British overseas territory, it maintains its own independent tax status and its parliament can enact laws independently of the United Kingdom.

Law of the United Kingdom

Sub-nationally, the United Kingdom has three legal systems, each of which derives from a particular geographical area and for a variety of historical reasons: English law, Scots law, and Northern Ireland law. Since 2007, as a result of the passage of the Government of Wales Act 2006 by Parliament, there also exists purely Welsh law. However, unlike the other three laws, this is not a separate legal system per se, being merely the primary and secondary legislation generated by the National Assembly for Wales, interpreted in accordance with the doctrines of English law, and not impacting upon English common law (except where such Welsh legislation ousts a common law rule by virtue of being a superior form of law). There is a substantial overlap between these three legal systems, and the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom, these being England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Each legal system defaults to each jurisdiction, and court systems of each jurisdiction further the relevant system of law through jurisprudence. However, it should be noted that in private law it is possible for people in certain jurisdictions to use the law of other jurisdictions, for example a company in Edinburgh, Scotland and a company in Belfast, Northern Ireland are free to contract in English law. This is inapplicable in public law (for example, criminal law), where there are set rules of procedure in each jurisdiction. Overarching these systems is the law of the United Kingdom, also known as United Kingdom law or (more rarely) British law. British law arises where laws apply to the United Kingdom and/or its citizens as a whole, most obviously constitutional law, but also other areas, for instance tax law.

The United Kingdom does not have a single legal system because it was created by the political union of previously independent countries. Article 19 of the Treaty of Union, put into effect by the Acts of Union in 1707, created the Kingdom of Great Britain, but guaranteed the continued existence of Scotland's separate legal system. The Acts of Union of 1800, which combined Great Britain and Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, contained no equivalent provisions but preserved the principle of separate courts to be held in Ireland, of which the part called Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the highest court in the land for all criminal and civil cases in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, and for all civil cases in Scots law. The Supreme Court is also the final court (in the normal sense of the term) for interpreting United Kingdom law. Note, however, that unlike in other systems (for example America), the Supreme Court cannot strike down statutes, and its cases can be expressly overriden by Parliament, by virtue of the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty. The Supreme Court came into being in October 2009, replacing the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. In England and Wales, the court system is headed by the Senior Courts of England and Wales, consisting of the Court of Appeal, the High Court of Justice (for civil cases) and the Crown Court (for criminal cases). The Courts of Northern Ireland follow the same pattern. In Scotland the chief courts are the Court of Session, for civil cases, and the High Court of Justiciary, for criminal cases. Sheriff courts have no equivalent outside Scotland, as they deal with both criminal and civil caseloads.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the highest court of appeal for several independent Commonwealth countries, the British overseas territories, and the British Crown dependencies. There are also immigration courts with UK-wide jurisdiction — the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and Special Immigration Appeals Commission. The Employment tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal have jurisdiction throughout Great Britain, but not Northern Ireland.

European Union law is actively transposed into the UK legal systems under the UK parliament's law-making power, in fulfillment of its EU treaty obligations, not inherently by acts of the European Union Parliament.

List of English statutes

This is a list of medieval statutes and other laws issued under royal authority in the Kingdom of England before the development of Parliament. These instruments are not considered to be Acts of Parliament, which can be found instead at the List of Acts of the Parliament of England.

Manslaughter

Manslaughter is a common law legal term for homicide considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is sometimes said to have first been made by the ancient Athenian lawmaker Draco in the 7th century BC.The definition of manslaughter differs among legal jurisdictions.

Manslaughter in English law

In the English law of homicide, manslaughter is a less serious offence than murder, the differential being between levels of fault based on the mens rea (Latin for "guilty mind") or by reason of a partial defence. In England and Wales, the usual practice is to prefer a charge of murder, with the judge or defence able to introduce manslaughter as an option (see lesser included offence). The jury then decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of either murder or manslaughter. On conviction for manslaughter, sentencing is at the judge's discretion, whereas a sentence of life imprisonment is mandatory on conviction for murder. Manslaughter may be either voluntary or involuntary, depending on whether the accused has the required mens rea for murder.

Neglect

Neglect is a form of abuse where the perpetrator, who is responsible for caring for someone who is unable to care for themselves, fails to do so. It can be a result of carelessness, indifference, or unwillingness.

Neglect may include the failure to provide sufficient supervision, nourishment, or medical care, or the failure to fulfill other needs for which the victim cannot provide themselves. The term is also applied when necessary care is withheld by those responsible for providing it from animals, plants, and even inanimate objects. Neglect can carry on in a child's life falling into many long-term side effects such as: physical injuries, low self-esteem, attention disorders, violent behavior, and can even cause death.

Robbery

Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force, threat of force, or by putting the victim in fear. According to common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear; that is, it is a larceny or theft accomplished by an assault. Precise definitions of the offence may vary between jurisdictions. Robbery is differentiated from other forms of theft (such as burglary, shoplifting, or car theft) by its inherently violent nature (a violent crime); whereas many lesser forms of theft are punished as misdemeanors, robbery is always a felony in jurisdictions that distinguish between the two. Under English law, most forms of theft are triable either way, whereas robbery is triable only on indictment. The word "rob" came via French from Late Latin words (e.g., deraubare) of Germanic origin, from Common Germanic raub -- "theft".

Among the types of robbery are armed robbery, which involves the use of a weapon, and aggravated robbery, when someone brings with them a deadly weapon or something that appears to be a deadly weapon. Highway robbery or mugging takes place outside or in a public place such as a sidewalk, street, or parking lot. Carjacking is the act of stealing a car from a victim by force. Extortion is the threat to do something illegal, or the offer to not do something illegal, in the event that goods are not given, primarily using words instead of actions.

Criminal slang for robbery includes "blagging" (armed robbery, usually of a bank) or "stick-up" (derived from the verbal command to robbery targets to raise their hands in the air), and "steaming" (organized robbery on underground train systems).

Simony

Simony is the act of selling church offices and roles. It is named after Simon Magus, who is described in the Acts of the Apostles 8:9–24 as having offered two disciples of Jesus, Peter and John, payment in exchange for their empowering him to impart the power of the Holy Spirit to anyone on whom he would place his hands. The term extends to other forms of trafficking for money in "spiritual things." Simony was one of the important issues during the Investiture Controversy.

Theft

In common usage, theft is the taking of another person's property or services without that person's permission or consent with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting, library theft, and fraud (obtaining money under false pretenses). In some jurisdictions, theft is considered to be synonymous with larceny; in others, theft has replaced larceny. Someone who carries out an act of or makes a career of theft is known as a thief. The act of theft is also known by other terms such as stealing, thieving, and filching.Theft is the name of a statutory offence in California, Canada, England and Wales, Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and the Australian states of South Australia, and Victoria.

Trustee

Trustee (or the holding of a trusteeship) is a legal term which, in its broadest sense, is a synonym for anyone in a position of trust and so can refer to any person who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility for the benefit of another. A trustee can also refer to a person who is allowed to do certain tasks but not able to gain income. Although in the strictest sense of the term a trustee is the holder of property on behalf of a beneficiary, the more expansive sense encompasses persons who serve, for example, on the board of trustees of an institution that operates for a charity, for the benefit of the general public, or a person in the local government.

A trust can be set up either to benefit particular persons, or for any charitable purposes (but not generally for non-charitable purposes): typical examples are a will trust for the testator's children and family, a pension trust (to confer benefits on employees and their families) and a charitable trust. In all cases, the trustee may be a person or company, whether or not they are a prospective beneficiary.

Ultra vires

Ultra vires is a Latin phrase meaning "beyond the powers". If an act requires legal authority and it is done with such authority, it is characterised in law as intra vires ("within the powers"). If it is done without such authority, it is ultra vires. Acts that are intra vires may equivalently be termed "valid" and those that are ultra vires "invalid".

Legal issues relating to ultra vires can arise in a variety of contexts:

Companies and other legal persons sometimes have limited legal capacity to act, and attempts to engage in activities beyond their legal capacity may be ultra vires. Most countries have restricted the doctrine of ultra vires in relation to companies by statute.

Similarly, statutory and governmental bodies may have limits upon the acts and activities which they legally engage in.

Subordinate legislation which is purported passed without the proper legal authority may be invalid as beyond the powers of the authority which issued it.

Welsh law

Welsh law is the primary and secondary legislation generated by the National Assembly for Wales, using devolved authority granted in the Government of Wales Act 2006 and in effect since May 2007. Each piece of Welsh legislation is known as an Act of the Assembly. The first Assembly legislation to be proposed was the NHS Redress (Wales) Measure 2008. This was the first time in almost 500 years that Wales has had its own laws, since Cyfraith Hywel, a version of Celtic law, was abolished and replaced by English law through the Laws in Wales Acts, enacted between 1535 and 1542 during the reign of King Henry VIII.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.