Civil Offences that can go before a
• Cases concerning the welfare of children.
• Dealing with people who don't pay their council tax.
• Family law including maintenance orders.
• Granting* alcohol licences.
• *to grant: concedere.
The doctrine of the precedent:
The fundamental assumption is:
• All cases should be treated alike
• The latin maxim, “stare decisis ” (stand by the decisions of past
cases) is the basis of the doctrine of the Precedent.
• Whitin the English law system, in certain circumstances a decision
on a legal point made in an earlier case MUST be followed.
(Lo “stare decisis” rappresenta un principio generale dei sistemi
di common law, in forza del quale il giudice è obbligato a
conformarsi alla decisione già adottata in una precedente
sentenza, nel caso in cui la fattispecie portata al suo esame sia
identica a quella già discussa nel caso deciso. In questo modo, i
precedenti tratti dalle sentenze anteriori operano come fonte di
diritto e, negli ordinamenti di common law, a tutt'oggi, la maggior
parte delle norme è prodotta proprio tramite questo sistema.)
STARE DECISIS :"to stand by that which is decided." The
principle is that the precedent decisions are to be followed by the
courts. It is a general maxim that when a point has been settled
by decision, it forms a precedent which is not afterwards to be
When these itinerant justices returned to Westminster , they were
able to discuss the different customs they met in different parts of
the country and by a process of selection, rejecting unreasonable
ones and accepting those that seemed more rational, they formed
a consistent body of rules (the “stare decisis”) making the law
Does reexamining exist?:
Although the doctrine of stare decisis does not prevent reexamining and,
if need be, overruling prior decisions, "It is a fundamental jurisprudential
policy that prior applicable precedent usually must be followed even
though the case, if considered anew, might be decided differently by the
current justices. This policy 'is based on the assumption that certainty,
predictability and stability in the law are the major objectives of the legal
system; i.e., that parties should be able to regulate their conduct and
enter into relationships with reasonable assurance of the governing
rules of law.'
According to such a principle:
• All courts are bound to follow decisions made by courts above
them in the hierarchy.
• Appellate courts are normally bound by their own past decisions.
• The principles of law that are essential to the decision are known
as the “ratio decidendi ”, they are defined as “any rule expressly or
impliedly treated by the judge as a necessary step in reaching his
Case law comes from the decisions made by judges in the cases
before them. In deciding a case we may finf two basic task:
1. Establishing what the facts are, meaning what actually happened.
2. How the law applies to those facts.
Ratio decidendi/ obiter dicta:
• The explanation of the legal principles on which the decidon is
made is called “ratio decidendi” (English: reason for deciding)
• All parts of the judgement which do not form part of the “ratio
deicidendi2 of the case are called “obiter facta” (English: things
said by the way). These are often discussions of hypothetical
situations but none of the obiter dicta forms part of the case law.
• Before the Norman Conquest in 1066 different areas of England
were governed by different systems of law. When William the
Conqueror gained the English throne in 1066, he established a
strong central government abd began to standardize the law.
• Represenatives of the King were sent out to the countryside to
check the local administartion, and were given the job of
adudicating in local disputes, according to local law.
A common law (1250)
The result of such a situation was that by about 1250 a common law had
been produced and it ruled the whole country. It contained many of what
are now basic points of English law (the fact that a murder is a crime for
The English common law system was exported around the world
wherever British influence dominated during the colonial period
(including USA and Commonwealth countries)
Equity or not?:
The common law became very rigid and it was not always an adequate
solution to every problem. When people were unable to seek redress
for wrongs through the c.law courts they petitioned the king. These
petitions were passed to the Chancellor, the king’s chief minister.
Litigants appeared before the Chancellor, who would question them, and
then deliver a verdict based on his own moral view of the question. The
Court, relying entirely on the Chancellor’s view of right and wrong , it
could enforce rights not recognized by the common law, which was
failing to adapt to new circumstances. This type of justice came to be
known as equity.
By the nineteenth century equity had become a body of law with
established cases, rather than an arbitrary exercise of conscience.
Today equity is still a separate body of rules, distinct from the common
law rules, but it is applied in the same courts as the common law.
Where there is a conflict between the two, equity prevails.
Advantages of binding precedent:
• Certainty: this helps people plan their affairs.
• Detailed practical rules: case law is a response to real situations,
as opposed to statutes which may be more based on theory and
logic. Case law shows the detailed application of the law to various
Disadvantages of binding precedent:
• Complexity and volume: there are hundreds of thousands of
decided cases. Judgments themselves are long and the ratio
decidendi of a case may be buried in a sea of irrelevant material.
• Rigidity: the rules of judicial precedent mean that judges should
follow a binding precedent even where they think it is a bad law, or
inappropriate. This can mean that bad judicial decisions are
perpetuated for a long time before they come before a court high
enough to have the power to overrule them.
• Dependence on chance: case law changes only in response to
those cases brought before it, so important changes may not be
made unless someone has the money and determination to push a
case far enough through the appeal system to allow a new
precedent to be created.
• Retrospective effect: if a case changes the law, the parties
concerned in that case could not have known what the law was
before they acted.
The Civil courts:
• Civil action takes place between individuals or organisations in
• These actions range through disputes between nieghbours,
families, companies, consumers and manufacturers.
• When a party (the claimant/plaintiff ) takes an action against
another party (the defendant ), the defendant is required to enter a
defence within fourteen days . Once the defence has been filed
the case management has started.
• First the court allocates the case to one of three tracks . The
values of these tracks refer to the sum claimed by the claimant.
1. The small claims track : actions with a value of less than £5.000
2. The fast track : actions of value between £ 5.000 and £15.000
3. The multi-track : actions with a higher value than £ 15.000.
Differences between Civil and Criminal Law:
Purpose of the Civil Law: To regulate relationships between individuals;
To settle disputes.
Civil Possible outcomes: Damages; Injunction; Declaration.
Purpose of the Criminal Law: To prevent certain types of conduct;
To enforce behaviour; To punish offenders.
Criminal Possible outcomes: Imprisonment; Fine; Community service.
• There are no limits to the power of Parliament and it could
legislate to do anything it wishes.
• The Human Rights Act ( 1998) is also compatible with this
convention that Parliament can legislate to do anything.
The parliamentary process:
Whitehall stage House of Lords
House of Commons
Westmister stage Royal Assent
Act of Parliament
The legislative stages in The House of
1. First Reading Title of the Bill is read out and the Bill is printed.
2. Second Reading Debate on the general principles of the Bill. Vote
taken on whether to proceed.
3. Committee Stage Passes to a Committee of the House.
4. Report Stage Amended Bill is reprinted and voted on.
5. Third Reading Final amendments and vote. Passed to House of
Lords if relevant.
In the House of Lords the process adopted is almost identical.
Consideration of amendments:
- In many cases it is likely that the second House to consider the
Bill will produce a slightly different Bill than that which was handed
to them not least because members of the second House have
had the opportunity to table amendments. Assuming that this
happens then the matter returns to the originating House (so in our
example the House of Commons) where that House must consider
the amendments. If they do not agree them (and therefore make
further amendments themselves) then the matter returns to the
other House and the process is repeated in a ‘ping-pong’ fashion
until one of three things happens:
-the two Houses agree the content of the Bill.
-the Houses cannot agree and parliamentary time runs out. in this
case the Bill is normally lost.
Assuming that the two Houses manage to agree the content of the Bill
then the Bill is
sent to the Queen for Royal Assent. The date on which the Royal
Assent is given is also
marked on the Act and it becomes itself part of the Act.
Content of a statute:
1. Short title:Most statutes will be referred to by their short title. Ex:
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
2. Royal Coat of Arms
An Act of Parliament is made under the authority of the Queen in
Parliament because the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy.
Accordingly when any legislation is passed the Royal Coat of Arms is
affixed to the statute to act as a seal for the legislation.
3. Chapter number:
The second official way in which a statute should be cited (the first was
the short title) is in respect of its chapter number. Each Act that is
passed by both Houses of Parliament and which receives Royal Assent
is assigned a sequential number to identify what order the legislation
was passed in any parliamentary session.
Ex: 2005 CHAPTER 4
4. Long title
Although each Act is given a short title by which it will ordinarily be
known, there is also a ‘long title’ to the Act which serves a description of
the purposes of the Act.
EX: An Act to make provision for modifying the office of Lord Chancellor,
and to make provision relating to the functions of that office; to establish
a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, and to abolish the appellate
jurisdiction of the House of Lords etc…
5. Date of Royal Assent
Royal Assent is the final part of the process required to enact
legislation and the date on which assent is given is placed on the Act
and on all copies of the Act.
EX: [24th March 2005]
6. Enacting formula
The enacting formula is just a formal wording that demonstrates that the
legislation passed the relevant legislative processes.
Ex: BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and
with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal,
and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the
authority of the same as follows:
7. Part number and heading:
Where an Act is long it is not uncommon for the Act to be split into Parts.
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is divided into seven Parts each
dealing with a discrete set of provisions in a broad area. Each Part is
usually accompanied by a heading, or more properly referred to as a
Ex: Part 1
The Rule of Law
• The act or process of constituting.
• The state of being; that form of being, or structure and connection
of parts, which constitutes and characterizes a system or body;
natural condition; structure; texture; conformation.
• The fundamental, organic law or principles of government of men
embodied in written documents, or implied in the institutions and
usages of the country or society; also, a written instrument
embodying such organic law, and laying down fundamental rules
and principles for the conduct of affairs.
Constitutional monarchy :
A monarchy in which the powers of the ruler are restricted to those
granted under the constitution and laws of the nation.
A form of national government in which the power of the monarch
(the king or queen) is restrained by a parliament, by law, or by
custom. Several nations, especially in modern times, have passed
from absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy, including
Belgium, Britain, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and
Monarchy and constitution?
In a monarchy the head of state, the nation's representativ, inherits
that position from her or his parents and is entitled to hold it until
death. The people have no say in who should represent them.
In Britain we have a "constitutional monarchy" in which the
monarch acknowledges the rights of the legislature and the
executive branch of government.
There are also 16 countries (all members of the Commonwealth)
that have Britain’s Queen Windsor as head of state. They are, for
example: Antigua and Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize,
Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea.
The British Constitution:
The British constitution, unlike that of most other countries, is not
written and not set out in any single document. Instead it is made
up of statute law, common law and conventions.
The Bill of Rights (1689) was the first step towards constitutional
This Bill prevented the monarch from making laws or raising an
army without Parliament’s approval. Since 1689 the power of
Parliament has grown, while the power of the monarch has
Nowadays Parliament is the legislature and the supreme authority.
The executive consists of:
the Government, the Cabinet and other ministers responsible for
-government departments, responsible for national administration;
-local authorities, responsible for many local services;
-public corporations, responsible for operating particular
nationalised industries or other bodies subject to ministerial
The judiciary determines common law and interprets statues, and
A group of members of a government who are chosen by the leader of
the government to give advice and be responsible for its policies. In the
British political system, members of the cabinet are called cabinet
ministers and each minister is usually the head of one of the main
government departments, such as Health or Defence.
Law: primary/secondary sources:
• Acts of Parliament (An Act is a statement of the law approved by
• Statutory Instruments (Statutory Rules are subordinate, delegated
legislation made under the authority of an act.
Statutory Rules are also known as Regulations, are delegated
legislation. Such rules are made by organizations and official
bodies, which have the delegated authority from Parliament to
carry out this area of law-making.)
• Decisions of superior courts :
Judicial decisions, often published in law reports are the reports of
judgments, cases or decisions of the law courts. These decisions
are often generically called common law.
• Orders in Council : are Orders that have been approved at a
meeting of the Privy Council personally by The Queen.
Secondary sources of law:
Secondary legal resources are materials that comment on the
legislation or case law. including:
• Legal Dictionaries & Glossaries.
• Legal Encyclopedias.
• Law Journals.
• Legal Electronic Discussion Lists.
• Other Key Legal Internet Resources and Guides.
• Guides to Secondary and Primary ResourcesThere is a range of
material in this category.
- Use an informative subject line, which
says what the email is about.
- Write the most important information
- Use simple grammar. Avoid things like
the passive. (As emails are a fast means
of communication, they tend to be less
wordy and complex than formal letters.)
- Write short sentences.
- Use paragraphs to keep the email clear
and easy to understand.
- Write ‘hello’ as your subject line.
- write about irrelevant issues. The reader will soon hit ‘delete’ if the
email doesn’t get to the point.
- Give personal information that you don’t want anyone else to know.
(The email could end up in the wrong hands)
- Use capital letters to write whole words as in emails, this is considered
- Use different fonts in the email (the recipient’s computer may not be
- Use Italics (the reason may be misunderstood, due to cultural
- Use exclamation marks.
- Use abbreviations, as the recipient may not understand them.
-Use acronyms for the same reason.
-Use smiles. They may bemisunderstood and come across as
Many people enjoy sending an receiving e-mail, especially if they share
a common interest. Writing e-mails to a friend in English allows you as
much time as you need to write the message and look up any words or
grammar that you don't know.
E-mails are usually written in a less formal style than letters. It is
common to start an e- mail with the name of the person you are writing
to, without starting with the word "Dear".
The following are examples of some appropriate ways to start and end
1) Writing to your partner Start: Use the person's first name or nickname
Ending: "Take care", or "Love", or "Thinking of you" Signature: Your first
name, or nickname
2) Writing to a friend Start: Use the person's first name Ending: "Best
wishes", or "Yours", or "Take care" Signature: Your first name
(3) Writing to someone in your own company Start: Use the person's
first name (in a few companies you might need to be more formal, but
this is rare in the UK) Ending: "Regards", or "Best wishes " Signature:
Your first name and last name, and put below your job title and
department, and phone number.
4) Writing to someone in another organisation or someone in a formal
position of responsibility Start: Use the person's title (eg: Mr, Mrs, Ms,
Dr) and surname (eg: Smith), or just "Sir/Madam" if you don't know the
nameEnding: "Regards"Signature: Your first name and last name (you
might add your title if you want to make it clear if you are a man or
woman). Below you can add your job title (if appropriate) and contact
details (you may want to include your telephone number or address)
How to read email addresses:
(_ ) underscore
( @ ) at
( - ) hyphen USED TO JOIN WORDS AND TO SEPARATE
SYLLABLES OF A SINGLE WORD
BUT if the punctuation mark is longer we have DASH ( – )
( / ) slash
(.) dot (.com)
Dear Mr Jones,
I am writing to enquire about your language courses in the summer. I am
a university student studying to become a translator.
I would like to know whether your school offers courses specifically for
university level students as I would like to study techniques for essay
writing in English. Could you also tell me how many hours of lessons
there are per week?
With regards to accommodation, are there different possible alternatives? I
feel I would
prefer to stay in shared accommodation with self-catering facilities.
Finally, I was wondering if any extra-curricular activities such as
lectures or excursions are offered at your school. If so, are these
included in the price, or at an additional cost?
I would be grateful for any information you can give me and I look
forward to hearing from you soon
Note that there are some differences in style between letters written in
American English and British English. For example, the way of writing
dates is different (the order is day, month, year in Britain, eg 1/2/2002 or
1 Feb 2002 or 1st February 2002; month, day, year in the US, eg
2/1/2002 or Feb 1 2002 or February 1st 2002.
At the top of the letter, write your address (using English letters) on the
right hand side. You do not need to put your name at the top of this
address, because it will already be written at the bottom of the letter .As
well as your postal address, you may want to include your telephone or
fax number (if you are not in the same country as the person to whom
you are writing, you should use the international way of writing this,
including the country code. You may also want to include your e-mail
Write the full name and address of the person to whom you are writing
on the top left hand side of the letter. On the right hand side,
underneath your own address, write the date on which you wrote the
letter. To avoid any possible confusion, it may be better to write the
address in full (for example: 1st February 2002).
In Britain, when you do not know the name of the person to whom you
are writing (or if you know the name but you want to write in a very
formal style), you normally start a business letter with the words "Dear
Sir". "Sir" is a word for a man, but it is understood that it is just a
convention to use this and that the letter may be read by either a man or
a woman. You can write "Dear Sir/Madam" instead if you prefer, but it is
not common to write "Dear Madam" unless you are certain that the letter
will be read by a woman. You should end the letter with "Yours faithfully"
("Faithfully yours" is only used in American English).
Note that you shouldn't add a full stop at the end of abbreviated words if
the last letter of the abbreviation is the same as the last letter of the full
word. For example, you should write Mr Smith (short for Mister) or Dr
Smith (short for Doctor), but Prof. Smith (short for Professor) - there is a
full stop in the last example because "f" is not the last letter of the word
When you start the letter, you may want to put a special heading to
make the subject of the letter clear, especially if your letter is quite long.
It is common to start with "Re: " ("re" introduces the subject: it means
"about") and then give a one-line summary of the subject (for example:
+1 anno fa
Legal English, con particolare riferimento al sistema giuridico britannico e all’iter legislativo anglofono.
Materiale nel riassunto: The Roman Legal System/ What’s law?/ Domestic sources of law/The legislative
process/ The European Court of Justice/
Provisions of the United Nations/
Criminal law/civil law/common law/
Treaties/ regulations/directives/decisions/ Constitutional conventions/ Solicitors
and Barristers/ Legal correspondence (Letters/faxes and emails)
I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher Merca-Tino di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Lingua inglese e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Kore Enna - Unikore o del prof Bonomo Annalisa.
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