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10. Access to justice  

This chapter addresses the issues and arguments surrounding access to justice. The chapter considers changes and proposed changes to legal aid provision. There is an outline of the basic principles relating to public funding in both civil and criminal cases. Different methods of funding civil legal representation are discussed including CFAs and DBAs. Organizations involved in giving legal advice, including Citizens Advice and law centres, are also included in the discussion about the availability of legal advice.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to the English Legal System

10. Access to justice: paying for legal services  

This chapter focuses on how legal services, in particular litigation, to the less well off and the poor are paid for. It considers first the radically changed shape of the legal aid scheme and publicly funded legal services in recent years and then discusses the developments designed to control the costs of litigation. It summarizes new ideas for the funding of litigation and improving access to justice. It considers the contribution of the legal profession and approaches to re-engineering the system, finally asking whether new processes—alternatives to the courts—might be better at providing cost effective and proportionate dispute resolution services.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to the English Legal System

6. The administrative justice system  

This chapter focuses on administrative justice. It reflects on the nature of administrative law and the role it plays in modern society, overseeing the relationship between the citizen and the state. Once again adopting the holisitic approach, the chapter discusses not only the role of the courts, but also the tribunals, ombudsmen, and other bodies and processes that together make up the institutional framework of administrative justice. It notes some of the key changes being introduced as a result of the Transformation Programme and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also considers the particular responsibilities of Members of Parliament in holding the Government to account. In addition, it asks who has general oversight of the system and whether current oversight arrangements are adequate.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to the English Legal System

1. Aims, themes, and structure  

This chapter sets out the basic aims, themes, and structure of this book which are to provide an introductory account of the English legal system, to note how it has developed in recent years, and to consider how it may develop in future. Part II raises fundamental issues about the social functions of law and the legitimacy of law; and considers the institutional framework within which law is made. Part III looks at the different contexts in which law is developed and practised. Part IV looks at the provision and funding of legal services. Finally, Part V offers reflexions on a system in flux.

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19. Alternative Dispute Resolution  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter considers alternative dispute resolutions (ADR), which are ways that a dispute can be settled outside of the court process. The chapters considers the growth of ADR and how the courts now require litigants to consider ADR before commencing legal action. The courts have wide powers to encourage ADR and this chapter considers these powers and why the courts try to encourage ADR. The key forms of ADR are then presented, together with an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.

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Cover The English Legal System

19. Alternative Dispute Resolution  

This chapter considers alternative dispute resolutions (ADR), which are ways that a dispute can be settled outside the court process. The chapter considers the growth of ADR and how the courts now require litigants to consider ADR before commencing legal action. The courts have wide powers to encourage ADR and this chapter considers these powers and why the courts try to encourage ADR. The key forms of ADR are then presented, together with an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.

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16. Alternative dispute resolution  

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) describes any method of resolving legal disputes other than through litigation in the courts or tribunals. ADR includes arbitration, mediation, adjudication, conciliation, med-arb, and early neutral evaluation/expert determination. This chapter explains the differences between the various forms of ADR, why ADR exists, its many advantages (compared to litigation), and its disadvantages. The chapter examines case law dealing with the ‘cost consequences’ of a failure by one party to a legal dispute to engage in ADR when presented with the opportunity to do so. The chapter considers whether ADR should be made compulsory and the extent to which the parties to a dispute, having agreed to resolve their dispute through ADR, can be compelled to honour that agreement.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to the English Legal System

8. The civil and commercial justice systems  

This chapter discusses the civil and commercial justice systems. It considers the purpose of the civil justice system and also covers the use of alternative dispute resolution and the incentives to keep disputes out of the court. It looks at the court structure, the county court, the High Court, the newly created Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, and other courts and offices. It considers possible changes that may result from the Transformation programme and the civil and commercial justice systems’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also considers routes of appeal and the work of the appeal courts.

Chapter

Cover English Legal System Concentrate

8. The Civil Justice System  

Each Concentrate revision guide is packed with essential information, key cases, revision tips, exam Q&As, and more. This chapter discusses the civil justice system. Civil justice is concerned with the private dispute between individuals in the absence of the state. It seeks to solve disputes before they have had a chance to enter the legal structure, through the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Civil justice follows a similar pattern to its criminal counterpart; however, some of the procedural rules—specifically those relating to evidence—appear to be much more relaxed than in the criminal justice system. During the process of civil justice, a number of issues may arise which would bring the procedure to an end. These issues include ADR, through which parties may decide to settle the case at any point; default judgment, wherein judgment may be entered against a defendant at any point in the proceedings; and offers to settle, known as ‘Part 36 Offers’, in which an individual makes an offer to another without prejudice.

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17. Civil Litigation  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter considers the conduct of civil litigation. It discusses how civil litigation is more managed than criminal litigation and the courts seek to assist litigants in finding a compromise. The civil courts have extensive powers over costs and they use this to ensure compliance with their rulings and also to encourage early settlement, reducing the need for litigation. The chapter examines three types of civil litigation; cases relating to the small-claims track (‘small claims court’), judicial review and private family-law disputes.

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17. Civil Litigation  

This chapter considers the conduct of civil litigation. It discusses how civil litigation is more managed than criminal litigation and the courts seek to assist litigants in finding a compromise. The civil courts have extensive powers over costs and they use this to ensure compliance with their rulings and also to encourage early settlement, reducing the need for litigation. The chapter examines three types of civil litigation; cases relating to the small-claims track (‘small claims court’), judicial review, and private family-law disputes.

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15. The civil process  

This chapter is a general introduction to civil litigation and the civil courts. It describes the process by which a civil claim is dealt with in the County Court or the High Court. It provides an overview of the major case management powers in the civil courts and discusses how these powers must be exercised to further the overriding objective of the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (as amended) to deal with matters justly and at proportionate cost. A brief history of the development of the civil court rules is included. Some of the basic principles of civil evidence are discussed and the methods of enforcement of civil judgments are set out.

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18. Criminal and civil appeals  

As seen in previous chapters, the appeal court system in England and Wales is hierarchical. This chapter is concerned with the various mechanisms by which the decisions of courts may be appealed or reviewed. It explores the grounds for appeals in criminal cases, including the concepts of ‘fresh evidence’ and ‘lurking doubt’. If a criminal appeal has been dismissed, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which was set up to examine potential miscarriages of justice, may refer a case back to the appeal court in certain circumstances. The chapter highlights some of the criticisms of the CCRC’s role and effectiveness. The avenues of appeal in civil cases are also discussed.

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16. Criminal Appeals  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter examines under what circumstances someone is entitled to appeal and how that appeal is heard. The discussions cover summary trials or trials on indictment; appeals from a summary trial; appeal from a trial on indictment; appeal following an acquittal; appeal against sentence; appeals to the Supreme Court; and the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The paths of appeals differ depending on the mode of trial of the original criminal hearing. There are two potential criminal appeal avenues from a summary trial: either to the Divisional Court (by way of case stated or (exceptionally) judicial review) or to the Crown Court. An appeal ordinarily requires leave (permission) but appealing to the Crown Court from the magistrates’ court does not require leave.

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16. Criminal Appeals  

This chapter examines under what circumstances someone is entitled to appeal and how that appeal is heard. The discussions cover summary trials or trials on indictment; appeals from a summary trial; appeal from a trial on indictment; appeal following an acquittal; appeal against sentence; appeals to the Supreme Court; and the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The paths of appeals differ depending on the mode of trial of the original criminal hearing. There are two potential criminal appeal avenues from a summary trial: either to the Divisional Court (by way of case stated or (exceptionally) judicial review) or to the Crown Court. An appeal ordinarily requires leave (permission) but appealing to the Crown Court from the magistrates’ court does not require leave.

Chapter

Cover English Legal System Concentrate

7. The Criminal Justice System  

Each Concentrate revision guide is packed with essential information, key cases, revision tips, exam Q&As, and more. This chapter examines the criminal justice system (CJS). The CJS is built upon procedural, evidential, and substantive foundations. These foundations dictate its direction and progression. A case will always begin with an investigation by the police or some other investigatory body. An individual may then be charged with an offence where he/she is provided with the option of pleading guilty or not guilty. Trial may follow. Where the defendant’s case will be tried depends on the type of offence in question and, in some cases, the decision of the defendant. A convicted person may appeal against either conviction or sentence for which the defendant will be required to prove why they either should not have been convicted, or why their sentence should be reduced.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to the English Legal System

5. The criminal justice system  

This chapter focuses on the criminal justice system. It contains summaries of the different social theories that underpin both the criminal justice system and the fundamental principles relating to sentencing policy. The system is examined in three segments: pre-trial stages, trial stage, and post-trial stages. Each is discussed in turn. This chapter emphasizes the holistic approach by looking not only at what happens in courts, but also the police station and in post-trial contexts such as parole and criminal cases review. The place of the victim in the system is also considered. Attention is given to the need to improve the criminal justice system.

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12. The criminal process: Pre-trial and trial  

This chapter explains what happens once a person has been charged with a criminal offence. Whether a case remains in the magistrates’ court or is sent to the Crown Court depends on whether the offence is ‘summary only’, ‘indictable only’, or ‘triable either way’. Summary trial takes place before a district judge or bench of lay justices in the magistrates’ court. Trial on indictment takes place before a jury in the Crown Court. Criminal proceedings are governed by the Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR). The overriding objective is to deal with cases justly, including acquitting the innocent and convicting the guilty. The chapter considers those parts of the CrimPR that set out the steps to be taken before a trial in both the magistrates’ court and the Crown Court. It explores key evidential and procedural rules that apply at trial, such as the rule that the prosecution must prove a defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

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11. The criminal process: The suspect and the police  

This chapter is concerned with the powers given to the police in order to investigate offences effectively, the limits to those powers, and the circumstances in which they may be exercised. It is concerned in particular with police powers to search, arrest, detain, and question suspects. The chapter also looks at the consequences that may follow when the police misuse their powers or break the rules. In relation to police interviews, it considers both the rules that protect suspects and the extent to which the right to silence has been eroded. Finally, the chapter examines who decides whether to bring a prosecution against a particular suspect and the criteria that are taken into account in making that decision.

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5. The doctrine of judicial precedent  

This chapter considers an essential source of law in the English legal system: judicial precedent (or ‘case law’). The rules and principles of the doctrine of judicial precedent are explored, including how precedents are created, developed, and followed. The chapter analyses the rule that forms the precedent—the ratio decidendi, or the reason for the decision—as well as the importance of other judicial statements that do not form part of those reasons—the obiter dicta. The principle of binding precedent is captured by the expression ‘stare decisis’ (stand by what is decided) and binding precedent relies on a hierarchy of courts. The hierarchy can help to establish whether a particular ratio decidendi binds a particular court and whether an appellate court is bound by its own previous precedents. The chapter is packed with case law examples and highlights the role of non-binding precedent which may still be deemed persuasive for a particular court. The relationship between the English courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is considered. Finally, the chapter considers how a court may avoid following a particular precedent by the process of overruling, distinguishing, or reversing.