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THE UNITED KINGDOM. COMMON LAW





The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland contains three major legal systems which have been developed through ages. The three systems, each with their own legal rules, courts and legal professions, are based geographically. These are systems of England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

England and Wales. These two areas form one jurisdiction. The national courts (High Court, Court of Appeal and House of Lords) are based in London, but there are local courts (Magistrates' Courts and County Courts) throughout the country and the Crown Court has many locations.

Northern Ireland. It has some unusual features in its system, which is centered in Belfast. Many relate to the political instability and violence which has taken place in the Province since its establishment. One such feature is the absence of a jury in "terrorist" trials. But the legal system of Northern Ireland has otherwise grown very similar to that of England and Wales.

Scotland. It had its own system of laws and courts (based in Edinburgh) before its union with England and Wales in 1707. The Acts of Union of 1707 expressly allowed these to continue, and so Scotland retains many distinctions from the English system. This might be further encouraged by devolution which is now to be implemented for Scotland.

Though many laws apply to just one of these jurisdictions, laws can be applied by Act of Parliament, to all or any combination of them. In this way, the United Kingdom as a whole or Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) or England, Wales and Northern Ireland can also be seen as distinct jurisdictions. It should also be noted that the United Kingdom has incorporated the legal system of the European Union since 1972.

The legal systems within the United Kingdom were based largely on judge-made law since the 17th century. The law developed through decisions made by judges and was called “case law” or “common law” (common to all courts of the country to observe). Since that time, new laws and law reforms have increasingly been brought about through Acts of Parliament, usually inspired by policies of the Government of the day.



Even so, the development of case-law still remains an important source of law. A statement of law made by a judge in a case can become binding on later judges and can in this way become the law for everyone to follow.

Precedent has a very important role in the common law. It ensures certainty and consistency and logical progression and development in the law. At the same time it can be rigid and also complex - what is "the law" on a subject may be very difficult to find or to state as it is spread across many cases. So, many countries (especially in Continental Europe) prefer a codified system in which laws are set out in legislation and cases which apply them may be illustrative but do not become binding. Nevertheless, the common law does have advantages over codified systems - it is more flexible, it is more practical as it is derived from real life dramas played out before the courts.

 

 






Date: 2015-08-24; view: 120; Нарушение авторских прав

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