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Portal:Law of England and Wales

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

Lord Lindley
The Serjeants-at-Law was an order of barristers at the English bar. The position was centuries old; there are writs dating to 1300 which identify them as descended from figures in France prior to the Norman Conquest. The Serjeants were the oldest formally created order in England, having been brought into existence as a body by Henry II. The order rose during the 16th century as a small, elite group of lawyers who took much of the work in the central common law courts. They had for many centuries exclusive jurisdiction over the Court of Common Pleas, and precedence over all other lawyers when appearing in other courts. With the creation of Queen's Counsel during the reign of Elizabeth I, the order gradually began to decline, with each monarch opting to create more Queen's Counsel. The Serjeants' exclusive jurisdictions were ended during the 19th century, and with the Judicature Act 1873 coming into force in 1875, it was felt that there was no need to have such figures, and no more were created. The last Serjeant-at-Law was Lord Lindley (pictured); on his death in 1921 the order ceased to exist. (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

Greene v Associated Newspapers Ltd is a 2004 decision of the Court of Appeal that governs the use of injunctions against publication in alleged defamation cases. Greene, a businesswoman, sought an injunction against Associated Newspapers Ltd to prevent them publishing alleged links with Peter Foster; while they claimed to have emails showing links, she asserted that they were false. The test at the time for a preliminary injunction in defamation cases was Bonnard v Perryman, where it was established that the applicant has to show "a real prospect of success" at trial. The Human Rights Act 1998 established that judges should consider whether applicants are "more likely than not" to succeed at trial, a test applied to confidentiality cases in Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee and the Liverpool Post and Echo Ltd. Greene claimed that the Cream test should be applied rather than the Bonnard test. The Court of Appeal said that defamation was significantly different from breach of confidentiality. While the damage from a breach of confidentiality can never be undone, justifiying a simple test for issuing injunctions, a defamation case that is won vindicates the injured party. Making it easier to grant injunctions in defamation cases would damage the delicate balance between freedom of the press and the right to privacy; as such, despite the Human Rights Act and Cream, Bonnard is still a valid test. (more...)

Selected image

Frederic William Maitland (1850–1906), Cambridge professor and leading legal historian
Credit: Beatrice Lock
Frederic William Maitland (1850–1906), Cambridge professor and leading legal historian

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...)

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From Wikipedia's "Did You Know" archives:

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Charles Dickens, in Bleak House (1853)

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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 Courts • 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

Legal areas

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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