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5. Human Rights Act 1998  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter examines the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) and discusses some of the important issues that arise from its use. It also provides an overview of relevant articles in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The HRA 1998 is quite a short Act and its key parts are in a small number of sections. Perhaps the most important is that of s 6 which places an obligation on public authorities to act in a way compatible with the ECHR; s 7 which prescribes how it can be used to obtain a remedy in the courts. This chapter also links to the previous chapters in terms of discussing how the Act is interpreted.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

5. Human Rights Act 1998  

This chapter examines the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) and discusses some of the important issues that arise from its use. It also provides an overview of relevant Articles in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The HRA 1998 is quite a short Act and its key parts are in a small number of sections. Perhaps the most important is that of s 6 which places an obligation on public authorities to act in a way compatible with the ECHR as well as s 7 which prescribes how it can be used to obtain a remedy in the courts. This chapter also links to the previous chapters in terms of discussing how the Act is interpreted.

Chapter

Cover English Legal System

7. Human rights in the United Kingdom  

This chapter considers the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and its relationship to the English legal system. The focus in the chapter is on key provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998—the Act that incorporated the Convention into UK law. In the earlier part of the chapter there is coverage of sections 2, 3, and 4 of the Act. These provisions concern the duties placed on the courts to take into account judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, to interpret domestic legislation so as to comply with rights under the Convention, and finally to issue a declaration of incompatibility when domestic legislation does not comply with rights under the Convention. Using examples from the case law, the chapter assesses how the courts balance their constitutional role to respect the supremacy of Parliament, with the duties provided in the Act to respect rights under the Convention. There is also an analysis of s.6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 which makes it unlawful for a public authority to act incompatibly with Convention rights. The analysis includes the contested question of what precisely constitutes a ‘public authority’, particularly when a private body is carrying out a public function.

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11. Funding Access to Justice  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter examines how litigation is funded. It considers the growth, and eventual decline, in legal aid, and how alternative sources of funding have begun to be used. The chapter considers both criminal and civil litigation. It notes how there is an increase in defendants-in-person before the criminal courts because of restrictions in legal aid. It questions whether this is appropriate, particularly where the loss of liberty is a real possibility. The chapter also considers how civil litigation is now funded. This includes how ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements were at first encouraged, but then subject to restrictions because it was felt the balance of risk vs. gain was inappropriate. The chapter charts the growth of before and after-the-event insurance, and the increase in third-party funding where the litigation is for large sums of money.

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12. The Investigation of Crime  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter examines the investigation of crime. It begins with a discussion of how law enforcement is organized, exploring the role of agencies such as the police, the National Crime Agency, and HM Revenue and Customs, amongst others. It then critically considers police powers around stop and search and arrest and detention, before moving on to examine the rights of suspects in police custody, particularly in relation to interview.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

11. Funding Access to Justice  

This chapter examines how litigation is funded. It considers the growth, and eventual decline, in legal aid, and how alternative sources of funding have begun to be used. The chapter considers both criminal and civil litigation. It notes how there is an increase in defendants in person before the criminal courts because of restrictions in legal aid. It questions whether this is appropriate, particularly where the loss of liberty is a real possibility. The chapter also considers how civil litigation is now funded. This includes how ‘no win, no fee’ arrangements were at first encouraged, but then subject to restrictions because it was felt the balance of risk vs gain was inappropriate. The chapter charts the growth of before and after the event insurance, and the increase in third-party funding where the litigation is for large sums of money.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

12. The Investigation of Crime  

This chapter examines the investigation of crime. It begins with a discussion of how law enforcement is organized, exploring the role of agencies such as the police, the National Crime Agency, and HM Revenue and Customs, amongst others. It then critically considers police powers around stop and search and arrest and detention, before moving on to examine the rights of suspects in police custody, particularly in relation to interview.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

4. International Sources of Law  

Alisdair A. Gillespie and Siobhan Weare

This chapter discusses international sources of law. Conventions and treaties are the primary sources of international law. International law also relies on custom, that is to say informal rules that have been commonly agreed over a period of time. Resolving disputes in international law is very different to resolving domestic disputes, including the fact that in some instances, there is no court that can hear a challenge. The United Nations, particularly its Security Council, has the primary role in upholding international law, meaning that it is often political rather than judicial resolution. In 1972, the United Kingdom joined the (then) European Economic Community (EEC). As part of that process, it agreed to shared sovereignty, meaning that in some areas, European law would take precedence. The United Kingdom has now left the European Union but, as will be seen, its laws will remain an important source of English law for some time.

Chapter

Cover The English Legal System

4. International Sources of Law  

This chapter discusses international sources of law. Conventions and treaties are the primary sources of international law. International law also relies on custom; that is to say, informal rules that have been commonly agreed over a period of time. Resolving disputes in international law is very different to resolving domestic disputes, including the fact that in some instances there is no court that can hear a challenge. The United Nations, particularly its Security Council, has the primary role in upholding international law, meaning that it is often political rather than judicial resolution. In 1972, the United Kingdom joined the (then) European Economic Community (EEC). As part of that process, it agreed to shared sovereignty, meaning that in some areas European law would take precedence. The United Kingdom has now left the European Union but, as will be seen, its laws will remain an important source of English law for some time.

Chapter

Cover English Legal System

2. An overview of the English legal system  

This chapter provides an introduction to some of the key concepts, themes, and institutions of the English legal system. It offers an overview that highlights fundamental concepts and principles such as parliamentary supremacy, the rule of law, legislation, the common law, and equity. There is a focus on ensuring you have a firm grasp of terminology and know the differences between the criminal law and civil law. The relationship between the English legal system and the European Union (EU) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is also distinguished and explained. In the latter part of the chapter, a summary of the courts, their composition, and their jurisdiction, as well as other legal bodies and personnel in the English legal system, is provided.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to the English Legal System

3. Sources of law: Authority and process  

This chapter considers how law is made in the UK, who makes it, and the constitutional principles which give them the authority for making it and imposing it on society. There is a detailed account of the legislative procedure of the UK Parliament, and the different types of legislation enacted by Parliament. The legislative functions of the devolved administrations are mentioned. The law-making functions of judges, particularly through case law and the interpretation of statutes, are also considered, as is the impact of the Council of Europe on human rights. Finally, an outline of the law-making processes of the European Union is given.