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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.

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Welsh law was the system of law practised in Wales before the 16th century. According to tradition, it was first codified by Hywel Dda ("Hywel the Good") during the period between 942 and 950 when he was king of most of Wales; as such it is usually called Cyfraith Hywel, the Law of Hywel, in Welsh. The tradition states that Hywel's men adapted existing laws and some elements are probably of much greater antiquity, with points of similarity to the Brehon law of Ireland. The earliest manuscripts which have been preserved date from the early or mid-13th century. The law was continually revised and updated, sometimes by rulers but usually by jurists, so that the provisions of the law in a mid-13th-century manuscript should not be considered as evidence of what the law was in the mid-10th century. The Welsh legal system was absorbed into the English system by the Laws in Wales Acts, passed between 1535 and 1542 under King Henry VIII. (more...)

Selected biography

Judge Norman Birkett at the bench during the Nuremberg Trials
Norman Birkett, 1st Baron Birkett (1883–1962) was a British barrister, politician and judge. Born in Ulverston, Lancashire, he initially trained to be a Methodist preacher, and attended Emmanuel College, Cambridge to study theology and history. He became President of the Cambridge Union, and after switching to law graduated in 1910. He was called to the Bar in 1913 and developed a reputation as a barrister able to defend people with almost watertight criminal cases against them, such as in the second of the Brighton trunk murders and the Blazing Car murder. He sat as a Member of Parliament for Nottingham East in the 1920s, and was described as "the Lord Chancellor that never was". In 1941, he became a judge of the High Court, and later served as the alternate British judge in the Nuremberg Trials. Unhappy with his time in the High Court, he accepted a position in the Court of Appeal in 1950, but after finding he enjoyed it even less, retired in 1956 when he had served long enough to draw a pension. Following his retirement he was made a hereditary peer, and spoke regularly in the House of Lords. After speaking there in 1962 he collapsed at home, and following a failed operation died aged 78. (more...)

Selected case

Cream Holdings Ltd v Banerjee and the Liverpool Post and Echo Ltd was a 2004 decision by the House of Lords on the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on freedom of expression. The Act, particularly Section 12, cautioned the courts to only grant remedies that would restrict publication before trial where it is "likely" that the trial will establish that the publication would not be allowed. Banerjee, an accountant with Cream Holdings, obtained documents which she claimed contained evidence of illegal and unsound practices on Cream's part and gave them to the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo, who ran a series of articles on 13 and 14 June 2002 asserting that a director of Cream had been bribing a local council official in Liverpool. Cream applied for an emergency injunction on 18 June in the High Court of Justice, where a judge decided on 5 July that Cream had shown "a real prospect of success" at trial, granting the injunction. This judgment was confirmed by the Court of Appeal on 13 February 2003. Leave was given to appeal to the House of Lords, where a judgment was given on 14 October 2004 by Lord Nicholls, with the other judges assenting. In it, Nicholls said that the test required by the Human Rights Act, "more likely than not", was a higher standard than "a real prospect of success", and that the Act "makes the likelihood of success at the trial an essential element in the court's consideration of whether to make an interim order", asserting that in similar cases courts should be reluctant to grant interim injunctions unless it can be shown that the claimant is "more likely than not" to succeed. At the same time, he admitted that the "real prospect of success" test was not necessarily insufficient, granting the appeal nonetheless because the High Court had ignored the public interest element of the disclosure. As the first confidentiality case brought after the Human Rights Act, Cream is the leading case used in British "breach of confidentiality" cases. (more...)

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Sir George Jessel, Master of the Rolls 1873–1883, captioned as "The Law"
Credit: Leslie Ward ("Spy") in Vanity Fair (1879)
Sir George Jessel, Master of the Rolls 1873–1883, captioned as "The Law"

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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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

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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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