Legal System In England

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Legal System in England

Legal System in England

Legal System in England


The English court system dates back to 1200, the longest running within European secular court records. It is a common law system. The court system started as a concept of justice, a matter of the crown. The court system works on a hierarchy. This proves to be a tried a tested system which is centuries old, the hierarchical system means there is always a court of appeal, thus a second chance for justice.

The main backbone of the English court system is the doctrine president, this plays a very important part of the English judicial system. The doctrine president means that courts are “bound by an earlier decision on the same point made by the same court or a higher court.” For this reason lawyers who argue in courts started publishing collections of important decisions, to remind the courts of its previous decisions .The doctrine president is one of the main reasons as to why the English system is deemed to be one of the fairest in the world (Smits 2006).

Certainty and Flexibility

In any discussion of justice, two concepts are of particular importance namely certainty and flexibility. Law needs to be certain in its scope and effect if people are to know how to order their affairs and to accord the law respect. However, the advantage of certainty must not over-emphasise particularly with regard to substantive justice where a patently unjust law, no matter how certain in its terms or effect, will remain one which offends again principles of morality or notions of a 'higher' law.

Certainty can also easily slide into rigidity with the effect that the law and legal system will fail to meet changing social needs. This was a major criticism of the common law and one, which Equity attempted to remedy. Once Equity itself applied the doctrine of precedent, it too became rigid and less able to adapt to meet changing needs. A balance has to be found between, on the one hand certainty and, on the other, flexibility. Another aspect of certainty is that the takes prospective effect rather than a retrospective effect. If law applies to the future those affected will be able to arrange their affairs in such a way as to conform to the law. If the law has retrospective effect, actions they perform which were legal when performed become illegal later. This is seen as unjust, unless there are special circumstances that necessitate a law having retrospective effect, for example the War Crimes Act 1991 and the Northern Ireland Act 1972(Moustaira 2004).

There is also a presumption in legislation that law does not have extra-territorial effect; in a modern society, this is not considered just, as those who offend abroad and return to the UK are seen to have escaped justice. There are many examples of modern law, “plugging the gap”.

The law must be certain and available to all, no laws must be made in secret (it is alleged that there are only three ...
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