The English Legal System is the English Law governing
England and Wales. It distinguishes several types of law:
. Common law and
. Private law and
– Civil law and Criminal law
. Statute law(
– Acts of Parliament
– Delegated Legislation
. Law from the European Community
Following the Norman conquest, English law has been
described as a common law system. This was a system whereby a number of legal
concepts from Norman Law were incorporated into the English system. Common law refers to the substantive
law and procedural rules that have been created by the judiciary through the
decisions in the cases they have heard. It is also referred to as Case law. The only remedy available
under common law is monetary in the form of damages.
To deal with the issue that damages are not always a
suitable remedy, equity was developed two or three hundred years later after
common law. Equity was brought in to
introduce fairness into the legal system and offers alternative remedies when
money is not sufficient. They are injunction, specific performance order(SPO),
rescission, restitution and rectification. Whenever there is a conflict between
common law and equity,then equity prevails.
Within the English legal system, two distinct areas of law
operate: private and public law. They both aim to create social order. Private law deals with relationships
between private individuals, groups or organizations. This can include contract
law, family law and other areas which deal with the intellectual property
rights (copyrights, designs and patents), land law ,probate and company law. The
state provides the legal framework( such as statutes) and the state does not
get involved whereby it allows the individuals to handle the matters.
Public law is
concerned with government and the functions of public organizations. The key
difference between public and private law is that it is the state that
prosecutes under public law whereas the individuals take up the action in
private law. Public law includes criminal law, constitutional law,
administrative law , social welfare law and all deals with matters relating to
the whole country.
Civil law is a
form of private law and involves the relationships between individual citizens.
The purpose is to settle disputes between the Plaintiff(claimant) and the
Defendant. The case is brought by the claimant, who is seeking a remedy whereby
the defendant is being sued. Civil cases are referred to by the names of the
parties involved in the dispute, for example, Alonzo v Shelly. In civil
proceedings, the case must be proved on the balance of probability. The
objective is usually financial compensation in the form of damages, Spo,
injunctions to put the claimant in the position he would have been in had the
wrong not occurred.