Structure of the Legal System

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Civil Law

  • Private Law
  • To settle disputes between individuals
  • No punishment concept
  • The aim is to compensate the injured party
  • Need to prove on the balance of probabilities
  • Sued in Court of Law
  • If liable, then compensation payable
  • Plaintiff and Defendant
  • Personal action brought by the injured party
  • Court may award damages or fair relief if damages are inappropriate

Criminal Law

  • Public Law
  • A criminal broke the law
  • A harm done to society
  • Prosecuted in Court
  • In case found guilty, then punished
  • Community service, fine, imprisonment
  • Prosecutor and accused
  • Need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Police decide whether or not to prosecute
  • The decision is reviewed by the Crown Prosecution Service

Common law

  • Development started from 1066
  • King’s representatives attended local courts.
  • Then met regularly in London to discuss
  • Over a period of 200 years, the law became the common law
  • The cornerstone of common law is judicial precedent
  • Ratio decidendi and obiter dicta
  • With communisation came the recognition of deficiencies
  • Stressed the need for alternative remedies – Fairness
  • The remedy at common law is for damages – a monetary reward
  • Common law courts were separate from the Court of Equity until the late 19th century