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English law is a term applied to refer to the legal system used in England and Wales. It forms the basic proponents of common law and constitutes the legal system in England, Ireland and the commonwealth countries. It is also the Law that governs all the United States of America apart from Louisiana, which uses civil law as its legal instrument. English law has its birth and development in the commonwealth countries by the British Empire. They ensured that they established and maintained the English laws in all their former colonies. In the quest to learn and understand English Law, its sources cannot be ignored. In fact, the sources of English law should be considered with an ultimate importance because it provides a basis, in which the English law lays its foundation. This essay presents a well researched discussion of the sources of English law. The four sources the paper is mainly focused on are: common law, European law, Statute law and European conventions.
Common Law is also known as case law or precedents; it entails a decision made by judges and developed by tribunals and courts. This legal system is traditionally the main component of English law. This legal system operates on a basic principle, which argues that it is unfair to treat similar occasions differently. This idea shows that common law is there to achieve equality of all the people in its jurisdiction. Common law also has a body of precedents, which guides its future decisions. It relies on cases dealt with by judges through applying their common sense and knowledge about past precedents (stare decisis) (Riches 2011). Judge-made law is the other name used to refer to this system of law. It is practically not judge made law since the judges do not make law, but they only interpret it. The judges on the basis of common sense and knowledge usually weigh the issues. This legal system has confidence with the judges as the most elite and intelligent people among the other citizens. Therefore, there is some sense of confidence that the most trusted individuals interpret the law. The body of precedents allows the common law to go back to a ruling made in the past in case of a disagreement of two conflicting parties.
Common law systems are more complex than they appear to be. Decisions of a court are not binding in all jurisdictions. Some courts are more powerful than others. In fact, decisions on courts of appeal are stronger than decisions by smaller courts. This shows the complexity of some kind in common law. Also, common law is flexible because it focuses on real life situations. The stare decisis have a well discerned hierarchy of courts. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom possesses the power to overrule all the precedents of all other courts. It binds all the courts in the kingdom’s hierarchy considering it as the most powerful.
This refers to the written law. At the local level, law may be written by the municipality to govern the people’s behavioral trends. Law may also be written by national or the state legislators. Statutory law may also be codified, which means that the law appears in codes according to its subject matter. This enhances this system of law to be precise and organized. Therefore, the articles are presented in case at any time when the need for evidence of a written document arises. Another example of a statute is private law. Though they are not usually codified, they usually affect only a small group of the population. This system of law originates from private bills that only affect the specific individuals. There is a strong need for such private laws to be written to clearly explain the circumstances and situations. These situations, under which specific individuals or small groups of people receive certain specific treatment, should be precise.
Statutes are the most crucial aspects in English law. They are a basic component of the English law. The parliament’s ability to make satisfactory statutes about prevailing circumstances of changing times usually limits the judicial capacity of the English law. Statutes are essentially acts of parliament. The parliament’s debates on possible laws take place and when most members vote for the law then it is passed, and it becomes a statute. The administrative branch of the government then exercises the law within the limits set by the statutes. A good example of a statute is the amendment of the parliamentary act concerning murder. Under common law, this offence was punishable by death sentence in England (Edmond 2004). After a parliamentary amendment, the punishment of this criminal act was reduced to mandatory life sentence. With the changing times, several issues have been put into consideration concerning murder issues. It concerns, for example, malice aforethought and the presence of a motive in murder cases. Psychological state of the offender has also been stressed to be analyzed critically.
Punishments are also reviewed under the statutory laws. Acts of parliament, which fundamentally compose the English law, review the extent and eligibility of different punishments from time to time. Some punishments such as probation with medical check ups are also added in to the penal code. Also, as the time goes, the parliament assesses the trends in crime and makes laws that do not exist in common law. For example, cyber crimes, which have been developed with the increased technological revolution in the world, have been reduced by the use of parliamentary acts and amendments.
European Union Law
The European Union Law refers to series of treaties and legislation that is applied to all the European Nations. They are also a key source of English law. Bearing in mind that England, from where the English law originates and possesses jurisdiction, is a European country; the discussion of this legal system cannot be ignored. These laws generally include regulations and directives, which has a direct or indirect effect on European Union member states. The main sources of this system of regulation are treaties that are concluded by the European Union. These treaties are regarded with an ultimate importance and are kept in proper custody for the future reference. A secondary source of this system of law, which is a significant component of the English law, is the directives and regulations that have their bases on the treaties. The Union law should be applied in courts of all the member states.
The European Union laws consist mainly of treaties that are founded on the European Union’s laws. These are the treaties for the European Union. These treaties provide for the provisions, which manage how European Union institutions are governed and the way their legal systems work on matters pertaining to the metropolitan states. All European nation member states are expected to cooperate with one another. The European Union laws also have discernible legislature. European parliament and the council of the European Union fundamentally form the legislature. The European Union also allows adoption of legal acts so that it ensures that EU achieves its objectives. These laws are simply the secondary EU laws. Also, regulations, recommendations, decisions and directives constitute the EU legislation.
The English law is also significantly composed by the conventions that originated in Europe in the past. These conventions may include the European convention on child abduction and the European convention on Human rights. These conventions are particularly instrumental in the wholesomely developing English laws. One of these conventions prevents international children abduction. This is meant to bring peace and an abduction-free England society. This convention about children’s abduction insists that The Hague and the European Union have a responsibility to prevent abduction of children.
On the same note, there is also a convention on human rights. This is an international treaty that is aimed at protecting fundamental rights of every living human being in Europe. The convention was established by the European court of Human rights and was put into practice on 3 September, 1950. Fundamental human rights are entitled to every person in England or any common wealth nation under English law (Slapper, 2011). The convention on human rights provides a binding bond of the English law with all other systems of law. This is because under the Universal declaration of Human Rights, these laws are internationally recognized. The United Nations also uses this convention as a tool to develop the unity in the whole world. These conventions agree upon instruments by all European nations. By virtue of geographical position, England and Wales happen to fall under these conventions too.
In conclusion, it is so vivid and clear that the components of English law improve its complexity and make it eligible. It is probably the most efficient legal system in the world considering that it is the most widely used legal system. The four components of English law make a truly comprehensive system of legislation. These sources make English law compatible with any other legal system in the world. This is because it has elements from the well developed and the most widely used legal systems, like common law. Statutes add weight to English law considering that they keep this law updated to recent trends of crime and crime methods. Perhaps, the English law should be used by other nations as a legal tool as well, since this system is diverse and would surely put an end to the impunity and other acts of moral degradation.