Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation

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Selected legislation 1

Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/1 The Obscene Publications Act 1959 is an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament that significantly reformed the law related to obscenity. Before the Act, the law on publishing obscene materials was governed by the common law case of R v Hicklin, which had no exceptions for artistic merit or the public good. During the 1950s, the Society of Authors recommended reform of the existing law, submitting a draft bill to the Home Office in February 1955. After several failed attempts, a bill was introduced to Parliament by Roy Jenkins and given the Royal Assent on 29 July 1959, coming into force on 29 August 1959. With the committee consisting of both censors and reformers, reform of the law was limited, with several extensions to police powers included in the final version. The Act created a new offence for publishing obscene material, replacing the previous common law offence of obscene libel, and also allows Justices of the Peace to issue warrants for the police to seize such materials. At the same time it created two defences; firstly, the defence of innocent dissemination, and secondly the defence of public good. The Act (which is still in force) has been used in several high-profile cases, such as the trials of Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover and Oz for the Schoolkids OZ issue, but more recently has been rarely used despite the increasing amount of "obscene" material available to the general public. (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/2 The Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act 1973 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that provided implied terms in contracts for the supply of goods and for hire-purchase agreements, and limited the use of exclusion clauses. The result of a joint report by the England and Wales Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission, First Report on Exemption Clauses, the Act was granted the Royal Assent on 18 April 1973 and came into force a month later. It met with a mixed reaction from academics, who praised the additional protection it offered while at the same time questioning whether it was enough; several aspects of the Act's draftsmanship and implementation were also called into question. Much of the Act was repealed by the Sale of Goods Act 1979, which included many of the 1973 Act's provisions. (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/3 The Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that covers occupiers' liability. The result of the Third Report of the Law Reform Committee, the Act was introduced to Parliament as the Occupiers' Liability Bill and granted the Royal Assent on 6 June 1957, coming into force on 1 January 1958. The Act unified several classes of visitors to property and the duty of care owed to them by the occupier, as well as codifying elements of the common law relating to this duty of care. It also covered the duty owed to parties to a contract entering the property and ways of excluding the liability for visitors. The Act introduced an element of liability for landlords who failed to maintain their properties and were as a result responsible for the injury of a non-tenant, something counter to the previous common law rule in English law. The Act is still valid law, and forms much of the law relating to occupiers' liability in English law along with the Occupiers' Liability Act 1984. (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/4 The Limitation Act 1963 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that amended the statute of limitations to allow actions in some cases where the injured party had not discovered the injury until after the standard date of expiration. The Act was based on the report of the Davies Committee on Limitation of Actions in Cases of Personal Injury, created after the Court of Appeal decision in the case of Cartledge v Jopling, and the Committee notably produced their final report before Cartledge had been heard in the House of Lords. The draft bill was presented to Parliament on 6 May 1963, given the Royal Assent on 31 July and came into force on the same day. The act allowed an injured party to bring a claim outside the normal statute of limitations period if he could show that he was not aware of the injuries himself until after the limitation period had expired and if he gained the permission of the court. After a series of problems emerged, including vagueness on a point even the House of Lords was unable to clarify and poor draftsmanship, the Act was repealed bit by bit during the 1970s, with the Limitation Act 1980 scrapping the last remaining sections. (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/5 The Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that significantly reformed the common law Doctrine of Privity. The second rule of the Doctrine of Privity, that a third party could not benefit from the terms of a contract, had been widely criticised by lawyers, academics and judges. Proposals for parliamentary reform were first made in 1937 by the Law Revision Committee. The Law Commission proposed a new draft bill in 1991, and presented their final report in 1996. The bill was introduced to the House of Lords in December 1998, and moved to the House of Commons on 14 June 1999. It received the Royal Assent on 11 November 1999, and has been in force since that date. The Act allows third parties to enforce terms of contracts that benefit them in some way, or which the contract allows them to enforce. It also grants them access to a range of remedies if the terms are breached. It also limits the ways in which a contract can be changed without the permission of an involved third party. At the same time, it provides protection for the promisor and promisee in situations where there is a dispute with the third party, and allows parties to a contract to specifically exclude the protection afforded by the Act if they want to limit the involvement of third parties. (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/6 The Defective Premises Act 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that covers landlords' and builders' liability for poorly constructed and poorly maintained buildings, along with any injuries that may result. During the 19th century, the common law principle that a landlord could not be liable for letting a poorly maintained house was established, while a long-running principle was that, in practice, builders could not be sued for constructing defective buildings. The courts began to turn against the first principle during the 20th century, imposing several restrictions on the landlord's immunity, but the landlord was still largely free from being sued. The Defective Premises Bill was introduced to the House of Commons as a private member's bill by Ivor Richard on 1 December 1971, and given the Royal Assent on 29 June 1972, coming into force as the Defective Premises Act 1972 on 1 January 1974. The Act establishes a duty of care builders and their sub-contractors owe to the occupiers of property they construct or modify, and also establishes a duty of care landlords hold towards their tenants and any third parties who might be injured by their failure to maintain or repair property. The Act (which is still in force) received a mixed reaction from critics; while some complimented it on its simple nature compared to the previously complex common rule laws, others felt that it was too limited for what was desired to be achieved, and that the wording used was at times both too vague and too specific. (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/7 The Trustee Act 2000 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that regulates the duties of trustees in English trust law. Reform in these areas had been advised as early as 1982, and finally came about through the Trustee Bill 2000, based on the Law Commission's 1999 report "Trustees' Powers and Duties", which was introduced to the House of Lords in January 2000. The bill received the Royal Assent on 23 November 2000 and came into force on 1 February 2001 through the Trustee Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2001, a Statutory Instrument, with the Act having effect over England and Wales. The Act (which is still in force) covers five areas of trust law: the duty of care imposed upon trustees, trustees' power of investment, the power to appoint nominees and agents, the power to acquire land, and the power to receive remuneration for work done as a trustee. It sets a new duty of care, both objective and standard, massively extends the trustees' power of investment and limits the trustees' liability for the actions of agents, also providing for their remuneration for work done in the course of the trust. (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/8 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...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/9

Henry VIII
The Statute of Uses was an Act of the Parliament of England that restricted the application of uses in English property law. The Statute was originally conceived by Henry VIII of England (pictured) as a way to rectify his financial problems by simplifying the law of uses, which moved land outside the royal tax revenue, traditionally gathered through seisin. His initial efforts, which removed uses almost completely, were stymied at the 1529 Parliament by members of the House of Commons, many of whom were landowners (who would lose money) and lawyers (who benefited in fees from the confusing law on uses). Academics disagree on how the Commons were brought around, but an eventual set of bills introduced in 1535 was passed by both the Lords and Commons. The eventual bills invalidated all uses that did not impose an active duty on trustees, with the beneficiaries of the use being held as the legal owners of the land, meaning they had to pay tax. (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/10 The Statute of Monopolies was an Act of the Parliament of England notable as the first statutory expression of English patent law. Patents evolved from letters patent, issued by the monarch to grant monopolies over particular industries to skilled individuals with new techniques. Originally intended to strengthen England's economy by making it self-sufficient and promoting new industries, the system gradually became seen as a way to raise money (through charging patent-holders) without having to incur the public unpopularity of a tax. Elizabeth I was a great abuser of the system, issuing patents for common commodities such as starch and salt. Unrest eventually persuaded her to turn the administration of patents over to the common law courts, but her successor, James I, was even more abusive. Despite a committee established to investigate grievances and excesses, Parliament made several efforts to further curtail the monarch's power. The result was the Statute of Monopolies, passed on 25 May 1624. The statute repealed all past and future patents and monopolies, except those created in the future over completely novel inventions. Seen as a key moment in the evolution of patent law, the statute (which has been replaced by later legislation) has also been described as "one of the landmarks in the transition of [England's] economy from the feudal to the capitalist". (more...)

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Nantwich workhouse
The English Poor Laws were a system of poor relief that developed out of late medieval and Tudor laws before being codified in 1587–98. Legislation was passed in 1536 to deal with the impotent poor, although there is earlier Tudor legislation dealing with the problems caused by vagrants and beggars. The history of the Poor Law in England and Wales is usually divided between two statutes, the "Old Poor Law" passed during the reign of Elizabeth I and the "New Poor Law", passed in 1834, which significantly modified the existing system. The later statute altered it from one which was administered haphazardly at a local parish level to a highly centralised system which encouraged the large scale development of workhouses (example pictured) by Poor Law Unions. The Poor Law system was not formally abolished until the 1948 National Assistance Act, with parts of the law remaining on the statute book until 1967. The Poor Law system fell into decline at the beginning of the 20th century due to several factors, such as introduction of the Liberal welfare reforms and the availability of other sources of assistance from friendly societies and trade unions, as well as piecemeal reforms which bypassed the Poor Law system. (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/12 The Representation of the People Act 1832, commonly known as the Reform Act 1832, was an Act of Parliament that introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system of England and Wales. Calls for reform had been mooted long before 1832, but without success. The Act which finally succeeded was proposed by the Whigs led by the Prime Minister Lord Grey. It met with significant opposition from the Pittite factions in Parliament that had governed the country for so long. Nevertheless, as a result of public pressure, the bill was eventually passed. The Act granted seats in the House of Commons to large cities that had sprung up during the Industrial Revolution, and took away seats from the "rotten boroughs". The Act also increased the number of individuals entitled to vote, increasing the size of the electorate by 50–80%, and allowing a total of one out of six adult males to vote, in a population of some 14 million. The Act only applied in England and Wales; separate reform bills were passed in the same year for Scotland and Ireland. Other reform measures were passed later during the 19th century; as a result, the Reform Act 1832 is sometimes called the "First", or "Great Reform Act". (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/13 The Arbitration Act 1979 (c.42) was an Act of Parliament that reformed arbitration law in England and Wales. Prior to 1979, arbitration law allowed use of the "Case Stated" procedure and other methods of judicial intervention, and the cost and time required for arbitration as a result made England an unpopular jurisdiction. While London was a centre for arbitration in insurance, admiralty and commodities trading, it failed to attract more modern forms of trade. The Act abolished the "Case Stated" procedure and other forms of judicial interference, replacing it with a limited system of appeal; it also allowed parties to agree to limit their rights to appeal to the courts, and gave arbitrators the ability to enforce interlocutory orders. Some academics praised it for bringing English law more into line with that of other nations, others criticised the wording used as unnecessarily complex and hazy. Having been repealed in its entirety by the Arbitration Act 1996, the Act is no longer in force. (more...)

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Portal:Law of England and Wales/Selected legislation/14 The Variation of Trusts Act 1958 (C.62) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that governs the courts' ability to vary the terms of trust documents. Prior to the 1950s, the courts were willing to approve "compromise" agreements as to what terms meant, not only when they were disputed but also for the benefit of certain parties, such as minors. In 1954, the House of Lords decided in Chapman v Chapman that this would no longer be permitted. The Act was brought in to deal with the problem. The Act gave the courts near-unlimited discretion to approve "compromise" agreements, for the benefit of infants or other incapable individuals, for individuals who may become beneficiaries, or for unborn beneficiaries. The courts have interpreted the Act's scope fairly widely, stating that almost any "variation" is acceptable, and that "benefit" may mean not just a financial benefit, but also a social or moral one. Despite initial fears that it would allow tax planners another way to hide funds and create a back-and-forth fight between the Chancery Division and Parliament, the Act was met with general approval. The ability of the courts to alter trustees' investment powers under the Act was criticised as slow and expensive, and as a result this is now covered by the Trustee Investments Act 1961. (more...)