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The English Legal System Essay

2075 words - 9 pages

The English legal system is complex and there are many ways in which it can be influenced, this essay will explore some of the different, more obvious ways the law can be changed and what this shows in relation to the quote above. First the essay will discuss the different ways the law can be created and changed and who enables and controls those changes, with my primary examples being the common law and legislation for the judicracy and Parliament respectively, then the essay will cover to what extent these powers enable the judicracy to change and create law in relation to Parliament and if it could be discribed as "opportunistic and piecemeal".

It is definitely arguable that in order to ...view middle of the document...

There are of course examples of the courts using their power to overrule precident, in the case of Curry V Director of Public Prosecutions [1994], Lord Justice Mann overturned a long standing asumption concerning whether children could understand right or wrong, he gave the justification that it was already standard method, but had never been specifically considered by the courts. What makes the common law so effective is that in the English legal system, law can effectly be split into substantive rules and statute law, generally unless Parliament has specifically legislates something, it's not illegal in civil law, the common law governs more common and behavoural issues that most people can agree on such as murder or stealing, giving the court some discretion in cases.

The judicracy has other ways of extending it's influence to law-making such as statutory interpretation, this means that even though the law should attempt to be as clear as possible, sometimes vagueness is caused. The courts have different rules as to how they might interpretate unclear statutes and the judicracy does not always agree on the best one. This again is an example of the judicracy exercising discretion in legal matters, which they tend to have the power to use to some minor extent at most levels, this allows the judicracy to apply a human aspect to the law and make smaller refinements.

Parliament has the power to allow others to make law through delegated (or subordinate) legislation. This is normally done through an enabling Act, which lays down the framework for law for a specific issue and allows the subordinate organisation(s) to make new laws for the purpose of improving the parent Act. For example, the Criminal Justice Act 2003 gives the Secretary of State the power of legislated delegation. Devolved legislation is similar, giving geographic regions the power to govern their own legislation, a large example of this would be the relation of Scotland, Wales and Ireland to England. While the Scottish Parliment, Th National Aseembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly can legislate on local issues, the legislation can still be changed or overturned by the Government, retaining Parliamentry sovereignty.

As figures from 2005 show, delegated legislation is important because it allows much more law reform than just Parliament would be able to achieve, in that year there were 24 Acts of Parliaments made compared to 3,699 Statuory Instruments, a type of delegated legislation. Organisations such as The Law Commission, The Law Reform Committee and the Criminal Law Revision Committee and Royal Commisions to name just a few all make recommendations for law change to Parlimament, some of these are set up with the specific purpose of improving a given section of law, but many aim for civic resolution as opposed to improving common law.

Parliamentary sovereignty is the concept that Parliament is the highest legal authority in the UK. This should mean that...

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