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Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

6. The Structure of the Courts  

This chapter discusses the organization of the modern court structure and what each court does. The courts in England and Wales (i.e. excluding the Supreme Court which is a UK court) are administered by a single agency, HM Courts and Tribunals Service. The courts of original jurisdiction (i.e. which hear trials of first instance) are ordinarily the magistrates’ court, county court, Crown Court, and High Court although they have now been joined by the Family Court. The Crown Court and High Court have both an original and appellate jurisdiction. The High Court is divided into three divisions (King’s Bench Division, Chancery Division, and Family Division) and when two or more judges sit together in the High Court it is known as a Divisional Court. The chapter also briefly describes the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Court of Protection, and coroners’ courts.

Book

Cover The English Legal System

Alisdair Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

The English Legal System presents the main areas of the legal system and encourages a critique of the wider aspects of how law is made and reformed. The book is structured in five parts. Part I looks at the sources of law including domestic and international sources. Part II looks at the courts and the practitioners. It considers the structure of the courts and tribunals, judges and judicial independence, the legal professions, and legal aid. Part III examines the criminal justice system. It describes issues related to lay justice, trials, and criminal appeals. The next part is about the civil justice system. It looks at civil litigation, remedies, appeals and alternative dispute resolution, as well as the funding of civil litigation. The final part looks to the future.

Book

Cover English Legal System

Helen Rutherford, Birju Kotecha, and Angela Macfarlane

English Legal System provides understanding of the operation of the legal system which is essential to the laying of a solid foundation on which to build further legal study. After offering practical advice on how to study the English Legal System, there is an overview of the nature of law, the sources of law, how the English legal system operates, the courts of England and Wales, and some of the important institutions and personnel of the law. How legislation is made and how it is interpreted is discussed. How judges make law and how this process is governed by the doctrine of judicial precedent are explored. The legal precedent set by a case the ratio decidendi, and other statements of law, obiter dicta, are explained. The book considers the impact of membership of the European Union (EU), being a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and Brexit. The institutions and personnel of the law: juries, judges, and lawyers are covered. The criminal process, from arrest to trial, to sentencing, is explained and analysed. Resolution of disputes through the civil courts and tribunals is explained, as is the civil process. Alternative methods of dispute resolution are considered.

Chapter

Cover English Legal System Concentrate

2. Introduction to Sources of Law and Court Structure  

Each Concentrate revision guide is packed with essential information, key cases, revision tips, exam Q&As, and more. This chapter introduces the various sources of law before proceeding onto a discussion of the courts of England and Wales. The courts of England and Wales can be divided into numerous different classifications. There are three different ways that courts may be classified: criminal and civil courts, trial and appellate courts, and superior and inferior courts. In England and Wales, there is often thought to be a stark divide between criminal and civil courts. Criminal courts deal with individuals who have ‘allegedly’ committed a criminal offence and it is the role of the arbiters of fact to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant based on the evidence presented before them. On the other hand, civil courts deal primarily with the resolution of private disputes between individuals. Such disputes can include matters of contract law, personal injury, and family law. However, the jurisdiction of some courts is not limited to one area of law, but rather is approachable for both substantive areas of law.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

6. The Structure of the Courts  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter discusses the organization of the modern court structure and what each court does. The courts in England and Wales (i.e. excluding the Supreme Court which is a UK court) are administered by a single agency, HM Courts and Tribunal Service. The courts of original jurisdiction (i.e. which hear trials of first instance) are ordinarily the magistrates’ court, county court, Crown Court, and High Court although they have now been joined by the Family Court. The Crown Court and High Court have both an original and appellate jurisdiction. The High Court is divided into three divisions (Queen’s Bench Division, Chancery Division, and Family Division) and when two or more judges sit together in the High Court it is known as a Divisional Court. The chapter also briefly describes the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Court of Protection, and Coroner’s Courts.

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 The English Legal System

14. Those in Court  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter focuses on the people who are present during criminal trials. It considers those in summary trials in magistrates’ court (magistrates, justices’ clerks/legal advisors, lawyers, and the defendant). It also considers those who are present in the Crown Court during a trial on indictment (the judge, the jury, lawyers, court clerks, the stenographer, the usher, and the defendant). The chapter also explores how lawyers for the defence are funded under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

Chapter

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15. The Trials  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter examines the trial process and identifies the differences between summary trials and trials on indictment. It details who is in court, what their role should be, and how they reach their various decisions. The discussions cover the prosecution case, the defence case, closing speeches, judicial summing up, reaching the verdict, and youth trials.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

14. Those in Court  

This chapter focuses on the people who are present during criminal trials. It considers those in summary trials in magistrates’ court (magistrates, justices’ clerks/legal advisors, lawyers, and the defendant). It also considers those who are present in the Crown Court during a trial on indictment (the judge, the jury, lawyers, court clerks, the stenographer, the usher, and the defendant). The chapter then explores how lawyers for the defence are funded under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

15. The Trials  

This chapter examines the trial process and identifies the differences between summary trials and trials on indictment. It details who is in court, what their role should be, and how they reach their various decisions. The discussions cover the prosecution case, the defence case, closing speeches, judicial summing-up, reaching a verdict, and youth trials.

Chapter

Cover English Legal System

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.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

18. Remedies and Appeals  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter discusses the remedies that can be sought from the civil courts and how an appeal is made against a decision. It covers interim and final remedies; route of appeals; leave; the hearing; appeals to the Supreme Court; and examples of appeals. There are many different types of remedies that a court can award to a successful litigant. The most common form of remedy is that which is known as ‘damages’. Appeals in the civil courts follow a slightly more complicated structure than in criminal cases. In order to appeal in the civil cases it is usually necessary to seek permission before proceeding with a civil appeal. Save where it is a final decision in a multi-track case, the usual rule is that the appeal will be heard by the next most senior judge.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

20. The Future in a Post-COVID World  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter considers the impact that COVID-19 has had on the English Legal System. The chapter is broken down into sections that mirror the parts of this book. The chapter begins by noting that the manner in which laws are passed differed because of coronavirus. The government were given wide-ranging powers to introduce new laws that restricted liberty. In many instances, these were not subject to Parliamentary debate or judicial analysis. The chapter also considers how the courts had to adjust to new ways of working. While traditionally, the courts rely on live proceedings, with everyone gathered in court, this was not possible throughout the pandemic. Remote hearings became the new normal until so-called ‘Nightingale Courts’ were introduced to allow for socially-distant trials to resume. However, this has led to significant delays in both the civil and criminal justice systems that will have a lasting impact. The chapter considers not only what has happened during the coronavirus pandemic, but also what lessons have been learnt that can carry through to the future.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

18. Remedies and Appeals  

This chapter discusses the remedies that can be sought from the civil courts and how an appeal is made against a decision. It covers interim and final remedies; route of appeals; leave; the hearing; appeals to the Supreme Court; and examples of appeals. There are many different types of remedies that a court can award to a successful litigant. The most common form of remedy is that which is known as ‘damages’. Appeals in the civil courts follow a slightly more complicated structure than in criminal cases. In order to appeal in the civil cases, it is usually necessary to seek permission before proceeding with a civil appeal. Save where it is a final decision in a multi-track case, the usual rule is that the appeal will be heard by the next most senior judge.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

20. The Future  

This chapter considers the impact that Covid-19 has had on the English Legal System. The chapter is broken down into sections that mirror the parts of this book. The chapter begins by noting that the manner in which laws are passed differed because of coronavirus. The government was given wide-ranging powers to introduce new laws that restricted liberty. In many instances, these were not subject to parliamentary debate or judicial analysis. The chapter also considers how the courts had to adjust to new ways of working. While traditionally the courts rely on live proceedings, with everyone gathered in court, this was not possible throughout the pandemic. Remote hearings became the new normal until so-called ‘Nightingale courts’ were introduced to allow for socially distant trials to resume. However, this has led to significant delays in both the civil and criminal justice systems that will have a lasting impact. The chapter considers not only what happened during the coronavirus pandemic, but also what lessons have been learnt that can carry through to the future.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

13. Pre-Trial Matters  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter on the criminal justice system focuses on preliminary issues, i.e. some of the issues that take place before trial begins. A prosecution begins at the earliest stage through a defendant being charged by the police but under the authority of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS must then review the decision to prosecute, which requires the CPS to have reference to two prosecution tests (evidential and public interest tests). The CPS has the ability to issue out of court disposals in appropriate cases as alternatives to prosecution. If a prosecution does take place it is necessary to identify in which court the proceedings will be heard. Crimes are divided into three categories: summary, indictable-only, and either-way. Criminal matters are heard in the magistrates’ court and the Crown Court and the categorization of offences has an impact on where the matter should be heard.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

13. Pre-Trial Matters  

This chapter on the criminal justice system focuses on preliminary issues, i.e. some of the issues that take place before trial begins. A prosecution begins at the earliest stage through a defendant being charged by the police but under the authority of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS must then review the decision to prosecute, which requires the CPS to have reference to two prosecution tests (evidential and public interest tests). The CPS has the ability to issue out-of-court disposals in appropriate cases as alternatives to prosecution. If a prosecution does take place, it is necessary to identify in which court the proceedings will be heard. Crimes are divided into three categories: summary, indictable-only, and either-way. Criminal matters are heard in the magistrates’ court and the Crown Court and the categorization of offences has an impact on where the matter should be heard.

Chapter

Cover English Legal System

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.

Chapter

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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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Cover The English Legal System

3. Domestic Sources of Law: Case Law  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter continues the discussion of sources of domestic law, focusing on material produced by the courts through cases. It covers the reporting of cases, the hierarchy of courts, legal principles, and the operation of precedent. The courts operate a system of precedent known as stare decisis (‘let the decision stand’). The type of precedent set depends on the court sitting, with the most complicated rules occurring in the Court of Appeal. As a general rule of thumb, the court setting the precedent will bind every court below it but the real question is under what circumstances that court is bound by itself.