The judicial system of England and Wales

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1.The judicial system of England and Wales.

1.The forces of law and order:

Between 30 and 40 years ago broad mass of British people felt confident and

proud about their system of justice, quality of the police force. Since then and through the 1990s there had been lots of revelations leading to the release of people convinced in murder. Disturbing aspects of police methods: obtaining confessions by improper means, withholding vital pieces of evidence because they weakened the case for prosecution, faking evidence, failure of checking police force when doubts arouse about a particular officer's methods.

2.The judicial system of England and Wales:

Main virtue - independence from the system of government, safeguard of civil

liberties.Main vice - resistance to reform, maintenance of its own privileges, which may

be contrary to public interest.Main peculiarity - no criminal or civil code.Structure - it is founded upon Acts of Parliament (almost all criminal law) and common law - outcome of past decisions and practices (greater part of civil law).

Criminal courts' structure: Magistrates' Courts (courts of first instance) and Crown Courts.

Civil courts' structure: Country Courts and High Court (divided into the Family Division, Chancery and the Queen's Bench).

Types of court:

      a) Civil.

      b) House of Lords-considers a case referred from the Court of Appeal.

      c) Court of Appeal: 1) Civil Division.

                                      2) Criminal Division.

      d)  High Court-deals with more complicated cases:

      1) Chancery -corporate and personal insolvency, interpretation of trusts and wills.

      2) Family Division -family law, divorce and adoption.

      3) Queen's Bench -contract and tort cases, maritime all criminal cases above

      the level of Magistrates' Courts.

      e) Country Court-deals with family, property, contracts and torts.

      f) Crown Court-for more serious offences.

      g) Magistrates' Court-juvenile Court (deal with about 95% of minor criminal cases).

     Magistrates' Courts are served by Justices of the Peace (JPs), chosen from the

community.A court consists of three lay magistrates (advised by qualified clerk) no sentence harder than 6 months or 5,000.

A Crown Court is presented over by a judge and a jury of 12 citizens. The House of Lords is represented by 5 or more of the 9 Law Lords.

“The person charged with an offence is presumed to be innocent unless the prosecution can prove quilt 'beyond all reasonable doubt”.

The treatment of offenders:

Forms of punishment: fine, imprisonment, probation (under the supervision of the

a professional probation officer). The death penalty was abolished in 1969. Imprisonment in Britain is used more than anywhere in Europe.

Young offenders:

The age of criminal responsibility is 10. Juvenile Court decides a sentence for

Offenders. Living within the family, being subjected to supervision, being taken into local authority care, attending special schools or centres on Saturdays, community service. Britain has a serious problem with young offenders (7 million crimes a year). A peak age for committing crime is 15.

The legal profession:

Solicitors deal directly with the public Barristers (professional advocates) fight a case in higher courts.Bodies (organizations): the Law Society for solicitors and the Bar for barristers.

To become a barrister a candidate must enter law college,complete the legal training and pass the Bar examination. But the top profession for them is the High Court judgeship.

England has no judicial profession: judges are appointed by the Lord Chancellor from experienced barristers. He tends to choose: white, male, privately educated, belonging to the professional middle class.Circuit judges are assigned to the Country Courts. Lord Chancellor's functions: selecting judges, QCs and magistrates; Speaker (presiding officer) of the House of Lords; member of the Cabinet and the government's chief legal adviser. England has fewer professional judges than most countries. Applicant was required to have been a circuit judge for 2 years and barrister for 10 years.

3.The judicial system of Scotland:

It is similar to the English one, but more influenced by Roman law.

Types of court:

     a) Civil.

     b) High Court of Justiciary: 1) Lord Justice General.

                                                  2) Lord Justice ClerkCriminal.

     c) High Court of Justiciary-For serious cases.

     d) Court of Session: 1) Inner House-1 judge under the direction of Lord President, 3 judges under the direction of Lord Justice Clerk.

                                       2)  Acourt of appeal.

                                       3) Outer House-a court of first instance.

      e) Sheriffs' Courts-main courts of Scotland.

      f) District Courts-Deal with minor criminal offences.

Juries are made up of 15 rather than 12 citizens. Judges are usually appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland. He also is responsible for all prosecutions on the behalf of the Lord Advocate.

The police:

Chief Constable is appointed by the police authorities subject to Home Office

approval and is responsible for all operational and administrative decisions.

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