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The British Judicial System

The judiciary branch of power in Britain is headed by a monarch and is rather complex, partially because of the lack of real written constitution. Due to this, one can name the four law sources there: the legislation (Acts of Parliaments), the common law (based on custom and historic rules), the European Union law (deals mainly with economic and social cases), and the European Convention on Human Rights (guarantees all person’s basic rights protection).

There should be a single system but the UK has three of them: for Northern Ireland, for England and Wales, for Scotland. They are different by form and manner of operation. Even carrying the same names, they are governed by different laws. These three systems reflect the historical origin of the previously independent UK’s parts.

The Queen appoints judges (by the Parliament’s advice) and remits the sentences for convicted criminals. The executives can’t force judges to act in such or another manner as the latter should be conservative and apolitical. Though, the MPs can make a petition for a judge’s removal. In fact, this right was exercises only once – in 1830 in Scotland.

The county’s court system has over a thousand year’s history. The Ministry of Justice administers it. The British judges operate independently from the government. There exist specific courts for different types of cases: the magistrate and the county courts, the Crown and the High Courts, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court (appeared only in 2009). They deal with public, civil, private, and criminal laws. The criminal trials are to be held in open court with 12 or 15 (in Scotland) juries who should make a unanimous decision. Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland the trials for terrorist acts may be held juryless in the country.

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