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Portal:Law of England and Wales

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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

Nuisance in English law is an area of tort law broadly divided into two torts: private nuisance, where the actions of the defendant are "causing a substantial and unreasonable interference with a [claimant]'s land or his use or enjoyment of that land", and public nuisance, where the defendant's actions "materially affects the reasonable comfort and convenience of life of a class of Her Majesty's subjects"; public nuisance is also a crime. Both torts have been present from the time of Henry III, being affected by a variety of philosophical shifts through the years which saw them become first looser and then far more stringent and less protecting of an individual's rights. Each tort requires the claimant to prove that the defendant's actions caused interference, which was unreasonable, and in some situations the intention of the defendant may also be taken into account. A significant difference is that private nuisance does not allow a claimant to claim for any personal injury suffered, while public nuisance does. Private nuisance has received a range of criticism, with academics arguing that its concepts are poorly defined and open to judicial manipulation. In addition, it has been claimed that the tort of private nuisance has "lost its separate identity as a strict liability tort and been assimilated in all but name into the fault-based tort of negligence", and that private and public nuisance "have little in common except the accident of sharing the same name". (more...)

Selected biography

Charles Abbott, 1st Baron Tenterden
Charles Abbott, 1st Baron Tenterden (1762–1832) was a British barrister and judge who served as Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench between 1818 and 1832. Abbott first considered becoming a barrister when serving as a tutor to the son of Sir Francis Buller. He was called to the bar by the Inner Temple in 1796, and earned more than any other during his time at the Bar, despite being considered unimaginative and a poor speaker. He became a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in 1816. Three months after he started sitting as a judge, he was transferred to the Court of King's Bench, where he was initially rather poor, being unfamiliar with the court's business. Within two years, he showed "the highest judicial excellence", and when Lord Ellenborough had a stroke in 1818, Abbott was chosen to replace him as Lord Chief Justice. His reign at the head of the Court of King's Bench saw the court flourish, with strong justices and his own much-admired abilities. He was appointed to the peerage in 1827, sitting as Charles Abbott, 1st Baron Tenterden. (more...)

Selected case

Abraham Thornton
Ashford v Thornton was an 1818 English legal case in the Court of King's Bench that upheld the right of the defendant, on a private appeal from an acquittal for murder, to trial by battle. In 1817, Abraham Thornton (pictured) was charged with the murder of Mary Ashford. Thornton met Ashford at a dance, and walked with her from the event. The next morning, Ashford was found drowned in a pit, with little outward signs of violence. Although public opinion was heavily against Thornton, the jury quickly acquitted him, and also found him not guilty of rape. Mary's brother, William Ashford, launched an appeal, and Thornton was rearrested. Thornton claimed the right to trial by battle, a medieval usage which had never been repealed by Parliament. Ashford argued that the evidence against Thornton was overwhelming, and that he was thus ineligible to wager battle. The court decided that the evidence against Thornton was not overwhelming, and that trial by battle was a permissible option under law; thus Thornton was granted trial by battle. Ashford declined the offer of battle and Thornton was freed from custody. Appeals such as Ashford's were abolished by statute the following year, and with them the right to trial by battle. Thornton emigrated to the United States, where he died about 1860. (more...)

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The Old Bailey, officially called the Central Criminal Court – the figure of Justice on the top is not blindfolded, contrary to common belief.
Credit: Nevilley
The Old Bailey, officially called the Central Criminal Court – the figure of Justice on the top is not blindfolded, contrary to common belief.

Selected legislation

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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From Wikipedia's "Did You Know" archives:

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A. P. Herbert, politician, law reformer and humorist, in Uncommon Law (1935)

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Legislative and constitutional system

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

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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

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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

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