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Portal:English law

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Introduction

English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising mainly criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures.

Selected article

The bilingual (Welsh and English) sign at Pontypridd County Court
The system of county courts in England and Wales dates back to the County Courts Act 1846, which received Royal Assent on 28 August 1846 and was brought into force on 15 March 1847. England and Wales (with the exception of the City of London, which was outside the scope of the Act) were divided into 60 circuits, with a total of 491 county courts within these circuits. The then Lord Chancellor, Lord Cottenham, wanted everyone to be within seven miles of a court, and the final scheme came close to that aim. One county court judge was appointed to each circuit, assisted by one or more registrars with some limited judicial powers, and would travel between the courts in his area as necessary, sitting in each court at least once a month. Few permanent courts were needed initially, given the infrequency of court hearings, and temporary accommodation such as a town hall would often be used where there was no existing courthouse for use. The judicial business of the county courts is now carried out by circuit judges (a term introduced by the Courts Act 1971) and district judges (as the post of registrar was renamed by section 74 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990). (more...)

Selected biography

Sir Edward Coke
Edward Coke (1552–1634) was an English barrister, judge and politician considered to be the greatest jurist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. He took part in several notable cases as a barrister, including Slade's Case, before being elected to Parliament, where he served as Solicitor General and as Speaker of the House of Commons. As Attorney General he prosecuted Robert Devereux, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. As Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in the Case of Proclamations and Dr. Bonham's Case, he declared the King to be subject to the law, and the laws of Parliament to be void if in violation of "common right and reason". As Chief Justiceship of the King's Bench, he restricted the definition of treason and declared a royal letter illegal, leading to his dismissal. He returned to Parliament, where he was instrumental in the passage of the Petition of Right, considered one of the crucial constitutional documents of England. In retirement, he finished his Reports and the Institutes of the Lawes of England. (more...)

Selected case

R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) was a case of the House of Lords concerning the removal of the Chagos Islanders and the exercise of the Royal Prerogative. The Chagos Islands, acquired by the United Kingdom in 1814, were reorganised as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in 1965 for the purpose of removing its inhabitants. Under a 1971 Order-in-Council, the Chagossians were forcibly removed, and the central island of Diego Garcia leased to the United States for use as a military outpost. In 2000, Olivier Bancoult successfully brought a judicial review claim against the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for the initial ordinance which led to the Chagossian removal. In response, Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, repealed the 1971 Order-in-Council and announced he would not appeal against the decision, allowing the Chagossians to return home. In 2004, a second Order-in-Council was produced, again reinstating the off-limits nature of the Chagos Islands. Bancoult brought a second case, arguing that this Order was again ultra vires and unreasonable, and that Cook had violated legitimate expectation by passing the second Order after giving the impression that the Chagossians were free to return home. On 22 October 2008, the Lords decided by a 3-2 majority to uphold the new Order-in-Council, stating that it was valid and, although judicial review actions could look at Orders-in-Council, the national security and foreign relations issues in the case barred them from doing so. (more...)

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Selected legislation

The Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the auxiliary forces of the British Army by transferring existing Volunteer and Yeomanry units into a new Territorial Force; and disbanding the Militia to form a new Special Reserve of the Regular Army. This reorganisation formed a major part of the Haldane Reforms, named after the creator of the Act, Richard Haldane. The Act followed the South African War of 1899-1902, which had reinforced the idea that the regular Army was not capable of fighting a prolonged full-scale war without significant assistance. There had been no thought before the war to using auxiliary forces overseas; in the event, volunteers had been used on an ad-hoc basis, and a new auxiliary arm (the Imperial Yeomanry) was formed to provide specialist troops, but it was clear that a more effective system was required in future. A number of attempts at reform under the Conservative government of 1901-1905 had failed to make any lasting changes to the system, and left the auxiliary forces disorganised and demoralised. In December 1905, Haldane was appointed as Secretary of State for War, and immediately set about reforming the Army to best prepare it for an intervention in a European war. The Act was repealed in 1966. (more...)

Did you know...

From Wikipedia's "Did You Know" archives:

English law News

30 August 2019 – Brexit
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major announces he will join a case brought by anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller seeking judicial review of Parliament's suspension in the High Court under English law. The case challenges the lawfulness of current UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to Queen Elizabeth II in asking her to suspend the UK Parliament. The case is due for a preliminary hearing next Thursday with a full hearing the following day if the High Court approves one. (BBC)
28 December 2018 – 2018 Leicester explosion
The three men suspected of causing an explosion at a shop in Leicester in February are convicted of murder. The explosion destroyed the shop and the flat above it, killing five people. The three men were also convicted of conspiracy with one of the victims to commit insurance fraud. (The Guardian)
25 October 2018 – Me Too movement
Labour peer Peter Hain uses parliamentary privilege to name Philip Green as the British businessman who used an injunction to prevent allegations of sexual harassment against him being published in The Daily Telegraph. (The Guardian)

Selected quotation

Lord Denning, in his book The Family Story (1981)

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Legislative and constitutional system

Constitution • Parliament • House of Commons • House of Lords • Legislation • Law enforcement • Royal Prerogative

Courts and tribunals

Courts of England and Wales • Supreme Court • Court of Appeal • High Court • Crown Court • County Court • Magistrates' court • Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority • Employment Appeal Tribunal • Employment Tribunal • Information Tribunal • Mental Health Review Tribunal

Judges

Lord Chancellor • President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom • Lord Chief Justice • Master of the Rolls • Chancellor of the High Court • President of the Family Division • President of the Queen's Bench Division • Lord Justice of Appeal • High Court judge • Judiciary of England and Wales • Magistrates of England and Wales

Government and state bodies

Ministry of Justice • Secretary of State for Justice • Attorney General • Director of Public Prosecutions • Crown Prosecution Service • Her Majesty's Courts Service • HM Land Registry • National Offender Management Service (HM Prison Service • National Probation Service) • Law Commission • Office of the Public Guardian • Tribunals Service • Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council · Boundary Commissions • Civil Justice Council • Information Commissioner's Office • Judicial Appointments Commission • Judicial College • Legal Services Commission • Sentencing Council • Youth Justice Board

Lawyers and institutions

Barrister • Bar Standards Board • Inns of Court (Gray's Inn, Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn, Middle Temple) • General Council of the Bar • Queen's Counsel • Solicitor • Law Society of England and Wales • Solicitors Regulation Authority • Legal executive • Institute of Legal Executives

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Administrative law • Causation • Civil liberties • Commercial law • Company law • Competition law • Contract law • Criminal law • Estoppel • Family law • Frustration • Insanity • Insolvency • Intoxication • Inquests • Juries • Labour law • Loss of a chance • Manslaughter • Marriage • Misrepresentation • Mistake • Murder • Nuisance • Police powers • Privacy law • Property law • Provocation • Right to silence • Tort law • Trespass • Trusts law

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