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Encyclopedia > English law

English law is a formal "term of art" that describes the law for the time being in force in England and Wales. Although devolution has accorded some degree of political autonomy to Wales in the National Assembly for Wales, it does not have sovereign law-making powers and the legal system administered through both civil and criminal courts remains unified. Contrast the situation of Northern Ireland which did not cease to be a state when its legislature was suspended (see Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972). The stela of King Hammurabi depicts the god Shamash revealing a code of laws to the king. ... For the heavy metal band, see Devolved (band) Devolution or home rule is the granting of powers from central government to government at regional or local level. ... Motto: (Welsh for Wales forever) Anthem: Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau Capital Cardiff Largest city Cardiff Official language(s) English, Welsh Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP  - First Minister Rhodri Morgan AM Unification    - by Gruffudd ap Llywelyn 1056  Area    - Total 20,779 km² (3rd in... The National Assembly for Wales (or NAfW) (Welsh: ) is a devolved assembly with power to make legislation in Wales, and is also responsible for most UK government departments in Wales. ... Sovereignty is the exclusive right to exercise supreme political (e. ... Motto: (French for God and my right)2 Anthem: UK: God Save the Queen Regional: (De facto) Londonderry Air Capital Belfast Largest city Belfast Official language(s) English (De facto), Irish, Ulster Scots 3 Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP  - First Minister Office suspended...

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Discussion

The United Kingdom is divided into states each with a separate legal system and jurisdiction. For the purposes of Public International Law, a "state" is the nation given de jure recognition so that it may, inter alia, enter into a treaty with another nation. But, for the purposes of Conflict of Laws, Beale defines a "state" as follows (at § 2.1/2.5): For the purposes of Public International Law and Private International Law, a state is a defined group of people, living within defined territorial boundaries and subject, more or less, to an autonomous legal system exercising jurisdiction through properly constituted courts. ... In law, jurisdiction (from the Latin jus, juris meaning law and dicere meaning to speak) is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area... International law deals with the relationships between states, or between persons or entities in different states. ... One of the most influential doctrines in history is that all humans are divided into groups called nations. ... Look up De jure in Wiktionary, the free dictionary The terms de jure and de facto are used instead of in principle and in practice, respectively, when one is describing political situations. ... Single European Act A treaty is a binding agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely states and international organizations. ... Conflict of laws, or private international law, or international private law is that branch of international law and interstate law that regulates all lawsuits involving a foreign law element, where a difference in result will occur depending on which laws are applied as the lex causae. ...

The civilized portion of the earth is divided up into certain units of territory in each of which a particular law proper to that territory alone prevails, and that territory is for legal purposes a unit.
§ 2.2. What Determines the State. — It has been seen that the existence of separate legal units within the dominions of a single sovereign is a fact, the result of historical accidents.

Beale offers this example of historical accidents at § 2.2:

"...when Hawaii was annexed to the United States it remained a separate legal unit; but when Wales was conquered by England it became a part of the legal unit, England."

Some jurisdictions such as Australia use the term "law unit" and some authors use the word "country", believing that these words are less confusing than the use of the word "state". The majority view is that "state" is the best term. Hence, for Conflict purposes, England and Wales constitute a single state. This is important for a number of reasons, one of the more significant being the distinction between nationality and domicile. Thus, an individual would have a British nationality and a domicile in one of the constituent states, the latter law defining all aspects of a person's status and capacity. Dicey and Morris (p26) list the separate states in the British Islands. "England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark. . . is a separate country in the sense of the conflict of laws, though not one of them is a State known to public international law." But this may be varied by statute. The United Kingdom is one state for the purposes of the Bills of Exchange Act 1882. Great Britain is a single state for the purposes of the Companies Act 1985. Traditionally authors refered to the legal unit or state of England and Wales as England although this usage is becoming politically unacceptable in the last few decades. This article is becoming very long. ... Motto: (Welsh for Wales forever) Anthem: Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau Capital Cardiff Largest city Cardiff Official language(s) English, Welsh Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP  - First Minister Rhodri Morgan AM Unification    - by Gruffudd ap Llywelyn 1056  Area    - Total 20,779 km² (3rd in... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq... In English usage, nationality is the legal relationship between a person and a country. ... In Conflict of Laws, domicile (termed domicil in the U.S.) is the basis of the choice of law rule operating in the characterisation framework to define a persons status, capacity and rights. ... The capacity of both natural and artificial persons determines whether they may make binding amendments to their rights, duties and obligations, such as getting married or merging, entering into contracts, making gifts, or writing a valid will. ... Under the Interpretation Act 1978 of the United Kingdom, the term British Islands refers to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, together with the Crown Dependencies: the Bailiwicks of Jersey and of Guernsey (which in turn includes the smaller islands of Alderney, Herm and Sark) in the... Motto: (Latin for No one provokes me with impunity)1 Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow Official language(s) English, Gaelic, Scots2 Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen of the UK Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister of the UK Tony Blair MP  - First Minister Jack McConnell MSP Unification    - by... Motto: (French for God and my right)2 Anthem: UK: God Save the Queen Regional: (De facto) Londonderry Air Capital Belfast Largest city Belfast Official language(s) English (De facto), Irish, Ulster Scots 3 Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP  - First Minister Office suspended... Capital St Anne Status Part of Guernsey, Crown dependency of the UK Official language(s) English Head of Government Sir Norman Browse Population 2,400 Currency Pound sterling (GBP). ... Flag of Sark Sark (in French, Sercq, in Sercquiais Sèr) is a small island of the Channel Islands, part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. ...


Statutory framework

The Interpretation Act 1978, Schedule 1 distinctively identifies the following: "British Islands", "England", and "United Kingdom". The use of the term "British Isles" is virtually obsolete in statutes and, when it does appear, it is taken to be synonymous with "British Islands". For interpretation purposes, England includes a number of specified elements: Location of the British Isles Great Britain, Ireland and several thousand smaller surrounding islands and islets form an archipelago off the northwest coast of continental Europe which is most commonly known as the British Isles. ...

  • Wales and Berwick Act 1746, section 3 formally incorporated Wales and Berwick-upon-Tweed into England. But section 4 Welsh Language Act 1967 provided that references to England in future Acts of Parliament should no longer include Wales (see now Interpretation Act 1978, Schedule 3, part 1). But Dicey & Morris say (at p28) "It seems desirable to adhere to Dicey's [the original] definition for reasons of convenience and especially of brevity. It would be cumbersome to have to add "or Wales" after "England" and "or Welsh" after "English" every time those words are used."
  • the "adjacent islands" of the Isle of Wight and Anglesey are a part of England by custom, while Harman v Bolt (1931) 47 TLR 219 expressly confirms that Lundy is a part of England.
  • the "adjacent territorial waters" by virtue of the Territorial Waters Jurisdiction Act 1878 and the Continental Shelf Act 1964 as amended by the Oil and Gas Enterprise Act 1982.

"Great Britain" means England and Scotland including its adjacent territorial waters and the islands of Orkney and Shetland, the Hebrides, and Rockall (by virtue of the Island of Rockall Act 1972). The "United Kingdom" means Great Britain and Northern Ireland and their adjacent territorial waters. It does not include the Isle of Man; nor the Channel Islands, whose independent status was discussed in Rover International Ltd. v Canon Film Sales Ltd. (1987) 1 WLR 1597 and Chloride Industrial Batteries Ltd. v F. & W. Freight Ltd. (1989) 1 WLR 823. The "British Islands" means the "United Kingdom", the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 was an act of Parliament explicitly expressing that all future laws applying to England would likewise also be applicable to Wales and Berwick unless the body of the law explicitly stated otherwise. ... Map sources for Berwick-upon-Tweed at grid reference NT9952 Berwick-upon-Tweed from across the river Berwick-upon-Tweed, (pronounced Berrick) situated in the county of Northumberland, is the northernmost town in England, situated on the east coast on the mouth of the river Tweed. ... The Welsh Language Act 1967 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which gave some rights to use the Welsh language in legal proceedings in Wales and gave the relevant Minister the right to authorise the production of a Welsh version of any documents required or allowed... The Isle of Wight is an English island and county, off the southern English coast, to the south of the county of Hampshire. ... Anglesey (Welsh: , pronounced (IPA)), is an island and county at the northwestern extremity of north Wales. ... The Old Light, Lundy Lundy is an island in the Bristol Channel of Great Britain, administered as part of Torridge district of the English county of Devon. ... The Orkney Islands form one of 32 unitary council regions in Scotland, and are a Lieutenancy Area. ... Shetland (formerly spelled Zetland, from etland) formerly called Hjaltland, is one of 32 council areas of Scotland. ... The Hebrides The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of Scotland, and in geological terms are composed of the oldest rocks in the British Isles. ... Rockall, a small, isolated rocky islet in the North Atlantic Ocean Rockall is a small, rocky islet in the North Atlantic, in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the United Kingdom. ... The Channel Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Normandy, France, in the English Channel. ...


Common law

Since 1189, English law has been described as a common law rather than a civil law system (i.e. there has been no major codification of the law, and judicial precedents are binding as opposed to persuasive). In the early centuries, the justices and judges were responsible for adapting the Writ system to meet everyday needs, applying a mixture of precedent and common sense to build up a body of internally consistent law, e.g. the Law Merchant began in the Pie-Powder Courts (a corruption of the French "pieds-poudrés" or "dusty feet", meaning ad hoc marketplace courts). As Parliament developed in strength, and subject to the doctrine of separation of powers, legislation gradually overtook judicial law making so that, today, judges are only able to innovate in certain very narrowly defined areas. Time before 1189 was defined in 1276 as being time immemorial. This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... Civil law is the predominant system of law in the world, with its origins in Roman law, and sets out a comprehensive system of rules, usually codified, that are applied and interpreted by judges. ... In law, codification is the process of collecting and restating the law of a jurisdiction in certain areas, usually by subject, forming the legal code. ... In law, a precedent or authority is a legal case establishing a principle or rule which a court may need to adopt when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. ... A judge or justice is an official who presides over a court. ... In law, a writ is a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction. ... The Law Merchant is a legal system used by merchants in 13th century England. ... States currently utilizing parliamentary systems are denoted in orange and red—the former being constitutional monarchies where authority is vested in a parliament, and the latter being parliamentary republics whose parliaments are effectively supreme over a separate head of state. ... The separation of powers (or trias politica, a term coined by French political, enlightenment thinker Montesquieu) is a model for the governance of democratic states. ... Bold textJAMES CHECKLEY Legislation (or statutory law) is law which has been promulgated (or enacted) by a legislature or other governing body. ... For broader historical context, see 1270s and 13th century. ... Time immemorial is time extending beyond the reach of memory, record, or tradition. ...


Precedent

One of the major problems in the early centuries was to produce a system that was certain in its operation and predictable in its outcomes. Too many judges were either partial or incompetent, acquiring their positions only by virtue of their rank in society. Thus, a standardised procedure slowly emerged, based on a system termed stare decisis. Thus, the ratio decidendi of each case will bind future cases on the same generic set of facts both horizontally and vertically. The highest appellate court in the UK is the House of Lords (the judicial members of which are termed Law Lords or, specifically if not commonly Lords of Appeal in Ordinary) and its decisions are binding on every other court in the hierarchy which are obliged to apply its rulings as the law of the land. The Court of Appeal binds the lower courts, and so on. Since joining what is now termed the European Union, European Union Law has direct effect in the UK, and the decisions of the European Court of Justice bind the UK courts. The Lords and Barons prove their Nobility by hanging their Banners and exposing their Coats-of-arms at the Windows of the Lodge of the Heralds. ... Human relationships within an ethnically diverse society. ... Stare decisis (Latin: , Anglicisation: , to stand by things decided) (more fully, stare decisis et non quieta movere) is a Latin legal term, used in common law to express the notion that prior court decisions must be recognized as precedents, according to case law. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The House of Lords, in addition to having a legislative function, has a judicial function as a court of last resort within the United Kingdom. ... Her Majestys Court of Appeal is the second most senior court in the English legal system (with only the judges of the House of Lords above it). ... The European Union is unique among international organisations in having a complex and highly developed system of internal law which has direct effect within the legal systems of its member states. ... Direct effect is a principle of European Union Law stating that European regulations have a direct effect on EU citizens and on the laws of the member states. ... The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is formally known as the Court of Justice of the European Communities, i. ...


Overseas influences

The influences are two-way.

  • Britain exported its legal system to the Commonwealth countries during the British Empire, and many aspects of that system have persisted after the British withdrew or were expelled. English law prior to the Wars of Independence is still an influence on United States law, and provides the basis for many American legal traditions and policies. Many states that were formerly subject to English law (such as Australia) continue to recognise a link to English law - subject, of course, to statutory modification and judicial revision to match the law to local conditions - and decisions from the English law reports continue to be cited from time to time as persuasive authority in present day judicial opinions. For a few states, the British Privy Council remains the ultimate court of appeal.
  • The UK is a dualist in its relationship with international laws, i.e. international obligations have to be formally incorporated into English law before the courts are obliged to apply supranational laws. For example, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was signed in 1950 and the UK has allowed individuals to make complaints to the European Commission on Human Rights since 1966. Now s6(1) Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) makes it unlawful "...for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a convention right", where a "public authority" is any person or body which exercises a public function, expressly including the courts but expressly excluding Parliament. Although the European Convention has begun to be applied to the acts of non-state agents, the HRA does not make the Convention specifically applicable between private parties. Courts have taken the Convention into account in interpreting the common law. They also must take the Convention into account in interpreting Acts of Parliament, but must ultimately follow the terms of the Act even if inconsistent with the Convention (s3 HRA).
  • Similarly, because the UK remains a strong international trading nation, international consistency of decision making is of vital importance, so the Admiralty is strongly influenced by Public International Law and the modern commercial treaties and conventions regulating shipping.

The Commonwealth of Nations (CN), usually known as the Commonwealth, is a voluntary association of 53 independent sovereign states, almost all of which are former colonies of the United Kingdom. ... The British Empire in 1897, marked in pink, the traditional colour for Imperial British dominions on maps. ... The law of the United States is derived from the common law of England, which was in force at the time of the Revolutionary War. ... A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, especially in a monarchy. ... Supranationalism is a method of decision-making in international organizations, where power is held by independent appointed officials or by representatives elected by the legislatures or people of the member states. ... The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, also known as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), was adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe[1] in 1950 to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. ... The Human Rights Act 1998 is a United Kingdom Act of Parliament which received Royal Assent on November 9, 1998, and came into force on October 2, 2000. ... This article or section is missing references or citation of sources. ... Single European Act A treaty is a binding agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely states and international organizations. ...

Statute

English law has significant antiquity. The oldest law currently in force is the Distress Act 1267, part of the Statute of Marlborough (52 Hen. 3). Three sections of Magna Carta, originally signed in 1215 and a landmark in the development of English law, are still extant, but they date to the reissuing of the law in 1297. The Statute of Marlborough (52 Hen 3) was a law passed by King Henry III of England in 1267. ... Magna Carta Magna Carta (Latin for Great Charter, literally Great Paper), also called Magna Carta Libertatum (Great Charter of Freedoms), is an English charter originally issued in 1215. ... // Events A certified copy of the Magna Carta June 15 - King John of England forced to put his seal to the Magna Carta, outlining the rights of landowning men (nobles and knights) and restricting the kings power. ... Events 8 January - Monaco gains independence. ...


See also

Scots law (or Scottish law) is the law of Scotland. ... Codified by Hywel Dda (Hywell the Good) in the early 10th century, the laws of the Welsh Princes were significantly more complex than would be found in other ares of Western Europe for centuries. ...

References

  • Beale, Joseph H. A Treatise on the Conflict of Laws. [1]
  • Dicey & Morris (1993). The Conflict of Laws 12th edition. London: Sweet & Maxwell Ltd. ISBN 0-420-48280-6

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
English law (402 words)
By 1250 the royal judges had amalgamated the various local customs into the system of common law – that is, law common to the whole country.
During the 19th century virtually the whole of English law was reformed by legislation;; for example, the number of capital offences was greatly reduced.
A unique feature of English law is the doctrine of judicial precedents, whereby the reported decisions of the courts form a binding source of law for future decisions.
English law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1420 words)
English law is a formal "term of art" that describes the law for the time being in force in England and Wales.
English law prior to the Wars of Independence is still an influence on United States law, and provides the basis for many American legal traditions and policies.
Three sections of Magna Carta, originally signed in 1215 and a landmark in the development of English law, are still extant, but they date to the reissuing of the law in 1297.
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