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English law is the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
of
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
, comprising mainly
criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its env ...
and
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
, each branch having its own
courts A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, govern ...
and
procedures Procedure may refer to: * Medical procedure * Instructions or recipes, a set of commands that show how to achieve some result, such as to prepare or make something * Procedure (business), specifying parts of a business process * Standard operatin ...
.


Principal elements of English law

Although the common law has, historically, been the foundation and prime source of English law, the most authoritative law is statutory
legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating Promulgation is the formal proclamation or the declaration that a new statute, statutory or administrative law is enacted after its final Enactment of a bill, appro ...
, which comprises
Acts of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate legislat ...
,
regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that a ...
and
by-lawA by-law (bye-law, by(e)law, by(e) law) is a rule or law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influe ...
s. In the absence of any statutory law, the common law with its principle of ''
stare decisis A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court, or by some equivalent legal process. A legal case is typically based ...
'' forms the residual source of law, based on judicial decisions, custom, and usage. Common law is made by sitting
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
s who apply both
statutory law Statutory law or statute law is written law passed by a body of legislature. This is as opposed to Oral law, oral or customary law; or regulatory law promulgated by the Executive (government), executive or common law of the judiciary. Statutes may ...
and established principles which are derived from the
reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ...
from earlier decisions.
Equity Equity may refer to: Finance, accounting and ownership *Equity (finance), ownership of assets that have liabilities attached to them ** Stock, equity based on original contributions of cash or other value to a business ** Home equity, the differe ...
is the other historic source of judge-made law. Common law can be amended or repealed by
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...
. Not being a
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
system, it has no comprehensive
codification Codification may refer to: *Codification (law), the process of preparing and enacting a legal code *Codification (linguistics), the process of selecting, developing and prescribing a model for standard language usage *Accounting Standards Codificati ...
. However, most of its criminal law has been codified from its common law origins, in the interests both of certainty and of ease of prosecution. For the time being,
murder Murder is the of another without or valid , especially the unlawful killing of another human with . ("The killing of another person without justification or excuse, especially the crime of killing a person with malice aforethought or with ...
remains a common law crime rather than a statutory offence. Although Scotland and Northern Ireland form part of the United Kingdom and share Westminster as a primary legislature, they have separate legal systems outside English law.
International treaties A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relation ...
such as the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
's
Treaty of Rome The Treaty of Rome, or EEC Treaty (officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community), brought about the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC), the best known of the European Communities (EC). The treaty was signed ...
or the Hague-Visby Rules have effect in English law only when adopted and ratified by Act of Parliament. Adopted treaties may be subsequently denounced by executive action, unless the denouncement or withdraw would affect rights enacted by Parliament. In this case, executive action cannot be used owing to the doctrine of
parliamentary sovereignty Parliamentary sovereignty (also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy) is a concept in the constitutional law Constitutional law is a body of law which defines the role, powers, and structure of different entities within a , n ...
. This principle was established in the case of ''
R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union ''R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union'' is a United Kingdom constitutional law case decided by the United Kingdom Supreme Court The Supreme Court (initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of ...
'' in 2017.


Legal terminology


Criminal law and civil law

Criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its env ...
is the law of crime and punishment whereby the
Crown '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the standard type of Silla's Crown. It was excavated by Swedish Crown Pri ...

Crown
prosecutes the accused.
Civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
is concerned with
tort A tort, in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dict ...

tort
, contract, families, companies and so on. Civil law courts operate to provide a party who has an enforceable claim with a remedy such as
damages At common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary ...
or a
declaration Declaration may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Declaration'' (book), a self-published electronic pamphlet by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri * ''The Declaration'' (novel), a 2008 children's novel by Gemma Malley Music ...
.


Common law and civil law

In this context,
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
is the system of codified law that is prevalent in Europe. Civil law is founded on the ideas of
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
. By contrast, English law is the archetypal
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
jurisdiction, built upon
case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is calle ...
.


Common law and equity

In this context,
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most-us ...
means the judge-made law of the
King's Bench The Queen's Bench (; or, during the reign of a male monarch, the King's Bench ('), is the superior court in a number of jurisdictions within some of the Commonwealth realms. The original King's Bench, founded in 1215 in England, was one of the ...
; whereas
equity Equity may refer to: Finance, accounting and ownership *Equity (finance), ownership of assets that have liabilities attached to them ** Stock, equity based on original contributions of cash or other value to a business ** Home equity, the differe ...
is the judge-made law of the (now-defunct)
Court of Chancery The Court of Chancery was a in that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness (or "inequity") of the . The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including , , the estates of lunatic ...

Court of Chancery
. Equity is concerned mainly with trusts and equitable remedies. Equity generally operates in accordance with the principles known as the "
maxims of equity Maxims of equity are legal maxims that serve as a set of general principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise ...
". The reforming
Judicature Acts The Judicature Acts are a series of Acts of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latte ...
of the 1880s amalgamated the courts into one Supreme Court of Judicature which was directed to administer both law and equity. The
neo-gothic Gothic Revival (also referred to as Victorian Gothic, neo-Gothic, or Gothick) is an architectural movement that began in the late 1740s in England. The movement gained momentum and expanded in the first half of the 19th century, as increasingly ...
Royal Courts of Justice The Royal Courts of Justice, commonly called the Law Courts, is a court building in Westminster which houses the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales. The High Court also sits on circui ...

Royal Courts of Justice
in The Strand, London, were built shortly afterward to celebrate these reforms.


Public law and private law

Public law is the
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
governing relationships between individuals and the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...

state
. Private law encompasses relationships between private individuals and other private entities (but may also cover "private" relationships between the government and private entities).


Legal remedies

A remedy is "the means given by law for the recovery of a
right Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is desc ...

right
, or of
compensation Compensation may refer to: *Financial compensation *Compensation (chess), various advantages a player has in exchange for a disadvantage *Compensation (engineering) *Compensation (essay), ''Compensation'' (essay), by Ralph Waldo Emerson *Compensati ...
for its infringement". Most remedies are available only from the court, but some are "
self-help Self-help or self-improvement is a self-guided improvement''APA Dictionary of Physicology'', 1st ed., Gary R. VandenBos, ed., Washington: American Psychological Association, 2007.—economically, intellectually, or emotionally—often with a substa ...
" remedies; for instance, a party who lawfully wishes to cancel a contract may do so without leave; and a person may take his own steps to " abate a private nuisance". Formerly, most civil actions claiming damages in the
High Court High court usually refers to the superior court In common law systems, a superior court is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between ...

High Court
were commenced by obtaining a
writ In , a writ (Anglo-Saxon ''gewrit'', Latin ''breve'') is a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial ; in modern usage, this body is generally a . , s, s, and are common types of writ, but many forms exist and have ...
issued in the Queen's name. After 1979, writs have merely required the parties to appear, and writs are no longer issued in the name of the Crown. Now, after the
Woolf Reforms The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) are the rules of civil procedure Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits (as opposed to procedures in criminal law matters). These ...
of 1999, almost all civil actions other than those connected with insolvency, are commenced by the completion of a Claim Form as opposed to a writ, originating application, or a summons.


Sources of English law

In England, there is a hierarchy of sources, as follows: * Legislation (primary and secondary) * The case law rules of common law and equity, derived from precedent decisions * Parliamentary conventions * General customs *
Books of authorityBooks of authority is a term used by legal writers to refer to a number of early legal textbook A textbook is a book containing a comprehensive compilation of content in a branch of study with the intention of explaining it. Textbook are produced ...
The rule of
European Union law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union. Since the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community following World War II, the EU has developed the aim to "promote peace, its values and ...
in England, previously of prime importance, has been ended as a result of
Brexit Brexit (; a portmanteau A portmanteau (, ) or portmanteau word (from "portmanteau (luggage) A portmanteau is a piece of luggage, usually made of leather and opening into two equal parts. Some were large, upright, and hinged at the back and ...

Brexit
.


Statute law

Primary legislation in the UK may take the following forms: *
Acts of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate legislat ...
*
Acts of the Scottish Parliament An Act of the Scottish Parliament ( gd, Achd Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) is primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legisl ...
* Acts of the Senedd, or previously Acts of the National Assembly for Wales and measures of the National Assembly for Wales * Statutory rules of the
Northern Ireland Assembly The Northern Ireland Assembly ( ga, Tionól Thuaisceart Éireann; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots: ''Norlin Airlan Assemblie'') often referred to by the metonym Stormont, is the devolution, devolved legislature of Northern Ireland. It has ...
Orders in Council An Order in Council is a type of legislation in many countries, especially the Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Each realm functions as an independent state, ...
are a ''
sui generis ''Sui generis'' ( , ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...
'' category of legislation. Secondary (or "delegated") legislation in England includes: *
Statutory instrument In many countries, a statutory instrument is a form of delegated legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legislation or subord ...
s and
ministerial order A ministerial decree or ministerial order is a decree A decree is a rule of law usually issued by a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. ...
s *
By-law A by-law (bye-law, by(e)law, by(e) law) is a rule or law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and in ...
s of
metropolitan borough A metropolitan borough is a type of districts of England, local government district in England, and is a subdivision of a metropolitan county. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, metropolitan boroughs are defined in English law as ...
s,
county council A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries. Members are elected in County Council elections. Ireland The county councils created und ...
s, and
town council A town council, city council or municipal council is a form of local government for small municipalities A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country su ...
s Statutes are cited in this fashion: "
Short Title In certain jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and other Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London (also known less commonly as London city centre) is the innermost part of London, in England, spanning s ...
Year", e.g.
Theft Act 1968 The Theft Act 1968c 60 is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It creates a number of offences against property in England and Wales. On 15 January 2007 the Fraud Act 2006 came into force, redefining most of the off ...
. This became the usual way to refer to Acts from 1840 onwards; previously Acts were cited by their
long title In certain jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and other Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London (also known less commonly as London city centre) is the innermost part of London, in England, spanning se ...
with the
regnal year A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Rom ...
of the
parliamentary session A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic governance Governance comprises all of the processes of governing – whether undertaken by the government of a state (polity), state, by a market (economics), mar ...

parliamentary session
when they received Royal Assent, and the chapter number. For example, the Pleading in English Act 1362 (which required
pleadings In law as practiced in countries that follow the English models, a pleading is a formal written statement of a party's claims or defenses to another party's claims in a civil action. The parties' pleadings in a case define the issues to be adjudi ...
to be in English and not
Law French Law French ( nrf, Louai Français, enm, Lawe Frensch) is an archaic language originally based on Old Norman and Anglo-Norman language, Anglo-Norman, but increasingly influenced by Parisian French and, later, English. It was used in the Courts ...
) was referred to as ''36 Edw. III c. 15,'' meaning "36th year of the reign of
Edward III Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377), also known as Edward of Windsor before his accession, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death in 1377. He is noted for his military success and for restoring roy ...

Edward III
, chapter 15". (By contrast, American convention inserts "of", as in " Civil Rights Act ''of'' 1964").


Common law

Common law is a term with historical origins in the legal system of England. It denotes, in the first place, the judge-made law that developed from the early Middle Ages as described in a work published at the end of the 19th century, ''The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I'', in which
Pollock Pollock or pollack (pronounced ) is the common name used for either of the two species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemica ...
and
Maitland
Maitland
expanded the work of
Coke
Coke
(17th century) and
Blackstone
Blackstone
(18th century). Specifically, the law developed in England's
Court of Common Pleas A court of common pleas is a common kind of court structure found in various common law jurisdictions. The form originated with the Court of Common Pleas (England), Court of Common Pleas at Westminster, which was created to permit individuals to pr ...
and other common law courts, which became also the law of the colonies settled initially under the crown of England or, later, of the United Kingdom, in North America and elsewhere; and this law as further developed after those courts in England were reorganised by the
Supreme Court of Judicature ActSupreme Court of Judicature Act (with its variations) is a stock short title which was formerly used for legislation in the United Kingdom relating to the Senior Courts of England and Wales, Supreme Court of Judicature for England and Wales and the c ...
s passed in the 1870s, and developed independently, in the legal systems of the United States and other jurisdictions, after their independence from the United Kingdom, before and after the 1870s. The term is used, in the second place, to denote the law developed by those courts, in the same periods (pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial), as distinct from within the jurisdiction, or former jurisdiction, of other courts in England: the
Court of Chancery The Court of Chancery was a in that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness (or "inequity") of the . The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including , , the estates of lunatic ...

Court of Chancery
, the
ecclesiastical court An ecclesiastical court, also called court Christian or court spiritual, is any of certain court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized commu ...
s, and the
Admiralty court Admiralty courts, also known as maritime courts, are courts exercising jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin ''Wikt:ius#Latin, juris'' 'law' + ''Wikt:dictio, dictio'' 'declaration') is the practical authority granted to a legal body to administer ...
. In the
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary A historical dictionary or dictionary on historical principles is a dictionary which deals not only with the latterday meanings of words but also the historica ...
(1933) "common law" is described as "The unwritten law of England, administered by the King's courts, which purports to be derived from ancient usage, and is embodied in the older commentaries and the reports of abridged cases", as opposed, in that sense, to statute law, and as distinguished from the equity administered by the Chancery and similar courts, and from other systems such as ecclesiastical law, and admiralty law. For usage in the United States the description is "the body of legal doctrine which is the foundation of the law administered in all states settled from England, and those formed by later settlement or division from them". Professor John Makdisi's article "The Islamic Origins of the Common Law" in the ''
North Carolina Law Review The ''North Carolina Law Review'' is the law review, law journal of the University of North Carolina School of Law. It was established in 1922 and is published in six issues each year. As of 2017, the ''North Carolina Law Review'' was ranked #30 amo ...
'' theorized that English common law was influenced by medieval
Islamic law Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a religious law Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Different religious systems hold sacred law in a greater or lesser degree of importance to their beli ...
. Makdisi drew comparisons between the "royal English
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
protected by the action of
debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor A debtor or debitor is a legal entity (legal person) that owes a debt Debt is an obligation that requires one party, the debtor, to pay money or other agreed-upon value to ...

debt
" and the "Islamic ''Aqd''", the "English
assize of novel disseisin In English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opi ...
" (a petty assize adopted in the 1166 at the Assizes of Clarendon) and the "Islamic ''Istihqaq''", and the "English
jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objectivity (philosophy), objective ...

jury
" and the "Islamic ''Lafif''" in the classical
Maliki The ( ar, مَالِكِي) school is one of the four major madhhab A ' ( ar, مذهب ', , "way to act") is a school of thought within '' fiqh'' (Islamic jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of law. Sc ...
school of
Islamic jurisprudence ''Fiqh'' (; ar} ) is Islamic jurisprudence. Muhammad-> Sahabah, Companions-> Tabi‘un, Followers-> Fiqh. The commands and prohibitions chosen by God were revealed through the agency of the Prophet in both the Quran and the Sunnah (words, de ...
, and argued that these institutions were transmitted to England by the
Normans The Normans (Norman Norman or Normans may refer to: Ethnic and cultural identity * The Normans The Normans (Norman language, Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were inhabitants of the early medieval Duchy of N ...

Normans
, "through the close connection between the Norman kingdoms of — ruling over a conquered Islamic administration — and ." Makdisi also argued that the "
law school A law school (also known as a law centre or college of law) is an institution specializing in legal education Legal education is the education of individuals in the principles, practices, and theory of law Law is a system A syste ...
s known as
Inns of Court The Inns of Court in London are the professional associations for barristers A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usuall ...
" in England (which he asserts are parallel to
Madrasah Madrasa (, also , ; Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental cou ...

Madrasah
s) may have also originated from Islamic law. He states that the methodology of legal
precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government inst ...
and reasoning by
analogy Analogy (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximate ...

analogy
(''
Qiyas In Fiqh, Islamic jurisprudence, ''qiyās'' ( ar, قياس) is the process of Deductive reasoning, deductive Analogy, analogy in which the teachings of the hadith are compared and contrasted with those of the Quran, in order to apply a known inju ...

Qiyas
'') are also similar in both the Islamic and common law systems. Other legal scholars such as Monica Gaudiosi, Gamal Moursi Badr and A. Hudson have argued that the English trust and
agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechanisms which govern the behavior Behavior (Am ...
institutions, which were introduced by
Crusaders The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The term refers especially to the Eastern Mediterranean campaigns in the period between 1095 and 1271 that h ...

Crusaders
, may have been adapted from the Islamic ''
Waqf A waqf ( ar, وَقْف; ), also known as hubous () or ''mortmain Mortmain () is the perpetual, inalienable ownership of real estate Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources ...

Waqf
'' and ''
Hawala Hawala or hewala ( ar, حِوالة , meaning ''transfer'' or sometimes ''trust''), also known as in Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian peopl ...

Hawala
'' institutions they came across in the Middle East. Paul Brand also notes parallels between the ''Waqf'' and the trusts used to establish
Merton College Merton College (in full: The House or College of Scholars of Merton in the University of Oxford) is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford , mottoeng = Psalm 27, The Lord is my light , established = , endowment = ...
by
Walter de Merton Walter de Merton (c. 1205 – 27 October 1277) was Lord Chancellor of England, Archdeacon of Bath, founder of Merton College, Oxford, and Bishop of Rochester. For the first two years of the reign of Edward I he was - in all but name - Reg ...
, who had connections with the
Knights Templar The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon ( la, Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici), also known as the Order of Solomon's Temple, the Knights Templar, or simply the Templars, was a Catholic military order (so ...
.


Early development

In 1276, the concept of "
time immemorial Time immemorial ( la, Ab immemorabili) is a phrase meaning time extending beyond the reach of memory Memory is the faculty of the brain A brain is an organ (biology), organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate ...
" often applied in common law was defined as being any time before 6 July 1189 (i.e. before
Richard I Richard I (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was King of England from 1189 until his death in 1199. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy In the Middle Ages, the Duke of Normandy was the ruler of the Duchy of Normandy in north-western Kin ...

Richard I
's accession to the
English throne The Throne of England is the throne A throne is the seat of state of a potentate or dignitary {{Short pages monitor The term "Throne of Great Britain" has been used in reference to Sovereign's Throne in the House of Lords The House of ...
). Since 1189, English law has been a common law, not a
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
system; in other words, no comprehensive codification of the law has taken place and
judicial precedents The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of courts that adjudicates legal disputes and interprets, defends, and applies the law in legal cases. ...
are binding as opposed to persuasive. This may be a legacy of the
Norman conquest of England The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to ...
, when a number of legal concepts and institutions from
Norman law Norman law (, , ) refers to the customary law A legal custom is the established pattern of behavior that can be objectively verified within a particular social setting. A claim can be carried out in defense of "what has always been done and accept ...
were introduced to England. In the early centuries of English common law, the justices and
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
s were responsible for adapting the system of
writ In common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institu ...

writ
s to meet everyday needs, applying a mixture of precedent and common sense to build up a body of internally consistent law. An example is the
Law Merchant ''Lex mercatoria'' (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
derived from the "Pie-Powder" Courts, named from a corruption of the French ''pieds-poudrés'' ("dusty feet") implying
ad hoc Ad hoc is a Latin phrase __NOTOC__ This is a list of Wikipedia articles of Latin phrases and their translation into English. To view all phrases on a single, lengthy document, see: * List of Latin phrases (full) The list also is divided alpha ...

ad hoc
marketplace courts. Following
Montesquieu Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, Lot-et-Garonne, Montesquieu (; ; 18 January 168910 February 1755), generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French judge, intellectual, man of letters, historian, and po ...

Montesquieu
's theory of the "separation of powers", only Parliament has the power to legislate; but if a statute is ambiguous, then the courts have exclusive power to decide its true meaning, using the principles of
statutory interpretation Statutory interpretation is the process by which courts interpret and apply legislation. Some amount of interpretation is often necessary when a case involves a statute. Sometimes the words of a statute have a plain and a straightforward meanin ...
. Since the courts have no authority to legislate, the "
legal fiction A legal fiction is a fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth i ...
" is that they "declare" (rather than "create") the common law. The
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
took this "declaratory power" a stage further in ''DPP v Shaw'', where, in creating the new crime of "conspiracy to corrupt public morals",
Viscount Simonds A viscount ( , for male) or viscountess (, for female) is a Title#Aristocratic titles, title used in certain European countries for a nobility, noble of varying status. In many countries a viscount, and its historical equivalents, was a non-here ...
claimed the court had a "residual power to protect the moral welfare of the state". As Parliament became ever more established and influential, Parliamentary
legislation Legislation is the process or product of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating Promulgation is the formal proclamation or the declaration that a new statute, statutory or administrative law is enacted after its final Enactment of a bill, appro ...
gradually overtook judicial law-making such that today's judges are able to innovate only in certain very narrowly defined areas.


Overseas influences


Reciprocity

England exported its common law and statute law to most parts of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
, and many aspects of that system have survived after Independence from British rule, and the influences are often reciprocal. "English law" prior to the American Revolutionary Wars (American War of Independence) is still an influence on
United States law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified w ...
, and provides the basis for many American legal traditions and principles. After independence, English common law still exerted influence over American common law – for example, ''
Byrne v Boadle ''Byrne v Boadle'' (2 Hurl. & Colt. 722, 159 Eng. Rep. 299, 1863) is an English tort law English tort law concerns the compensation for harm to people's rights to health and safety, a clean environment, property, their economic interests, or thei ...
'' (1863), which first applied the ''
res ipsa loquitur ''Res ipsa loquitur'' (Latin: "the thing speaks for itself") is a doctrine in the Anglo-American common law and Roman Dutch law that says in a tort A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than breach of contract) that c ...

res ipsa loquitur
'' doctrine. Jurisdictions that have kept to the common law may incorporate modern legal developments from England, and English decisions are usually persuasive in such jurisdictions. In the United States, each state has its own supreme court with final appellate jurisdiction, resulting in the development of state common law. The US Supreme Court has the final say over federal matters. By contrast, in Australia, one national common law exists.


Courts of final appeal

After Britain's colonial period, jurisdictions that had inherited and adopted England's common law developed their courts of final appeal in differing ways: jurisdictions still under the British crown are subject to the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), somet ...
in London. For a long period, the British
Dominion The term dominion was used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other D ...

Dominion
s used London's Privy Council as their final appeal court, although one by one they eventually established their local
supreme court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...

supreme court
. New Zealand was the last Dominion to abandon the Privy Council, setting up its own
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...
in 2004. Even after independence, many former British colonies in the
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...

Commonwealth
continued to use the Privy Council, as it offered a readily available high-grade service. In particular, several Caribbean island nations found the Privy Council advantageous.


International law and commerce

Britain is a dualist in its relationship with international law, so international treaties must be formally ratified by Parliament and incorporated into statute before such supranational laws become binding in the UK. Britain has long been a major trading nation, exerting a strong influence on the law of
shipping Freight transport is the physical process of transport Transport (in British English), or transportation (in American English), is the Motion, movement of humans, animals, and cargo, goods from one location to another. In other words, ...
and
maritime trade Maritime history is the study of human interaction with and activity at sea. It covers a broad thematic element of history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. E ...
. The English law of
salvage Salvage may refer to: * Marine salvage, the process of rescuing a ship, its cargo and sometimes the crew from peril * Water salvage, rescuing people from floods. * Salvage tug, a type of tugboat used to rescue or salvage ships which are in distre ...
,
collisions In physics, a collision is any event in which two or more bodies exert Force, forces on each other in a relatively short time. Although the most common use of the word ''collision'' refers to incidents in which two or more objects collide with gr ...
, ship arrest, and carriage of goods by sea are subject to international conventions which Britain played a leading role in drafting. Many of these conventions incorporate principles derived from English common law and documentary procedures.


British jurisdictions

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland comprises three legal jurisdictions: England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Although Scotland and Northern Ireland form part of the United Kingdom and share the Parliament at Westminster as the primary legislature, they have separate legal systems. Scotland became part of the UK over 300 years ago, but
Scots law Scots law () is the legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified ...
has remained remarkably distinct from English law. The UK's highest civil
appeal court An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the Engl ...
is the
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The Supreme Court (initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical ...
, whose decisions, and those of its predecessor the House of Lords, unless obviously limited to a principle of distinct English and Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish law, are binding on all three UK jurisdictions, as in ''
Donoghue v Stevenson was a landmark court decision in Scots delict lawDelicts in Scots Law are Civil wrong, civil wrongs which are actionable in Scottish courts. The equivalent term in English law and other common law jurisdictions is known as tort law. The most di ...
'', a Scots case that forms the basis of the UK's law of
negligence Negligence (Lat. ''negligentia'') is a failure to exercise appropriate and/or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort A tort, in common law jurisdiction, is a civil wrong (other than br ...

negligence
.''Donoghue v Stevenson''
932 Year 932 (Roman numerals, CMXXXII) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. Events By place Europe * Summer – Alberic II of Spoleto, Alberic II leads an uprising at Rome aga ...
UKHL
932 Year 932 (Roman numerals, CMXXXII) was a leap year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. Events By place Europe * Summer – Alberic II of Spoleto, Alberic II leads an uprising at Rome aga ...
UKHL


Application of English law to Wales

Unlike
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
and
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
,
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
is not a separate
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
within the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
. The customary laws of
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
within the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
were abolished by
King Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Ital ...
's
Laws in Wales Acts The Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 ( cy, Y Deddfau Cyfreithiau yng Nghymru 1535 a 1542) were parliamentary measures by which Wales was annexed to the Kingdom of England, the legal system of England was extended to Wales and the norms of English ...
which brought Wales into legal conformity with England. While
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
now has a devolved , any legislation it passes must adhere to circumscribed subjects under the
Government of Wales Act 2006 The Government of Wales Act 2006 (c 32) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United King ...
, to other legislation of the
British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...
, or to any
Order in Council An Order in Council is a type of legislation in many countries, especially the Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Each realm functions as an independent state, ...
given under the authority of the 2006 Act. Any reference to England in legislation between 1746 and 1967 is deemed to include Wales. As to later legislation any application to Wales must be expressed under the
Welsh Language Act 1967 The Welsh Language Act 1967, is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crow ...
and the jurisdiction is, since, correctly and widely referred to as
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
. Devolution has granted some political autonomy to
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
via the National Assembly for Wales, which gained its power to pass primary legislation until the
Government of Wales Act 2006 The Government of Wales Act 2006 (c 32) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United King ...
, in force since the 2007 Welsh general election. The legal system administered through civil and criminal courts is unified throughout
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
. This is different from
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
, for example, which did not cease to be a distinct jurisdiction (area), jurisdiction when its legislature was suspended (see Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972). A major difference is use of the Welsh language, as laws concerning it apply in Wales and not in the rest of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
. The Welsh Language Act 1993 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which put the Welsh language on an equal footing with the English language in Wales with regard to the public sector. Welsh may also be spoken in Welsh courts.


Classes of English law

* United Kingdom administrative law, Administrative law * Arbitration, Arbitration law * Charitable organization#England and Wales, Charities * Civil procedure in England and Wales and Legal professions in England and Wales, Legal Services and Institutions * Commercial law * United Kingdom company law, Company law * United Kingdom constitutional law, Constitutional law * English contract law, Contract law *
Criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its env ...
* Criminal procedure, Criminal (law) procedure * United Kingdom labour law, Employment and Agency (law), Agency *
Equity Equity may refer to: Finance, accounting and ownership *Equity (finance), ownership of assets that have liabilities attached to them ** Stock, equity based on original contributions of cash or other value to a business ** Home equity, the differe ...
* United Kingdom banking law, Financial services and institutions * Hearsay in English law, Evidence and Locus standi, Actionability * English family law, Family law (private and public regarding local authorities) * Bankruptcy in England, Bankruptcy and Insolvency (law), Insolvency * Probate#England and Wales, Probate (and intestacy) law * English property law, Property law (with tort, contract and criminal overlap) (includes land, landlord and tenant, occupancy, housing conditions and intellectual property law, sales, auctions and repossessions) * Maritime law, Maritime law and law of the sea (mainly private and public international law) * UK tax system, Taxation, tax credits and benefits law * English tort law, Tort law * English trust law, Trust law


See also

*
Books of authorityBooks of authority is a term used by legal writers to refer to a number of early legal textbook A textbook is a book containing a comprehensive compilation of content in a branch of study with the intention of explaining it. Textbook are produced ...
* European Communities Act 1972 (UK)#Effect and primacy of EC/EU law, Effect of European Communities Act 1972 * Law Commission (England and Wales) * Halsbury's Laws of England * Canon law of the Anglican Communion, Law of Church of England * Military justice#United Kingdom, Military law in the UK * Open justice *
Order in Council An Order in Council is a type of legislation in many countries, especially the Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state that has Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Each realm functions as an independent state, ...
*
Scots law Scots law () is the legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified ...
* Welsh law * Chief Justice Coke's rulings in **''Case of Proclamations'' **''Case of Prohibitions''


Notes


References

* Beale, Joseph H. (1935) ''A Treatise on the Conflict of Laws''. * Darbyshire, Penny (2017) ''Darbyshire on the English Legal System '' - 12th ed - Sweet & Maxwell - * Dicey & Morris (1993). ''The Conflict of Laws'' - 12th edition - Sweet & Maxwell * *


Further reading

* Milsom, S.F.C., ''A Natural History of the Common Law''. Columbia University Press (2003) * Milsom, S.F.C., ''Historical Foundations of the Common Law'' (2nd ed.). Lexis Law Publishing (Va), (1981) * Fleming, Justin, ''Barbarism to Verdict - A History of the Common Law'' Published January 1, 1994 by Angus & Robertson Publishers


External links


''The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, 2 vols.''
on line, with notes, by S. F. C. Milsom, originally published in Cambridge University Press's 1968 reissue.
First edition of ''Halsbury's Laws of England: Being A Complete Statement of the Whole Law of England'', published 1907-1917.
* (2013) 36(3) University of New South Wales Law Journal 1002. {{DEFAULTSORT:English Law English law, Legal codes Law of the United Kingdom Common law legal systems England and Wales, Law Legal history of England, * Public policy in England, Law Public policy in Wales, Law