Print Сite this

Civil and Criminal Law in the English Legal System

Each country has a complex legal system that enforces the rule of law. England and Wales have a reputation for having one of the most effective and widely respected legal systems in the world. It is divided into civil and criminal law branches, each with its own procedure and independent court system. While it has been mythologized in history books and mass media as the most effective form of government, it is actually beset by multiple problems that challenge its efficiency like any other human institution.

Our experts can deliver a Civil and Criminal Law in the English Legal System essay
tailored to your instructions
for only $13.00 $11.05/page
308 qualified specialists online
Learn more

The purpose of civil law is to reimburse a breach of a right or a failure of duty to the injured party, or prevent a future one. The claimant must file a form at the County Court and the defendant respond with an intention to defend within fourteen days for the case to go to trial1. The court’s objective is to deal with cases proportionately to their cost, importance, and complexity, so there are streamlined procedures depending on their monetary value: small claims for under 10,000 GBP, fast track for between 10,000 GBP and 25,000 GBP, and multitrack for claims over 25,000 GBP2. After a lengthy period of waiting, the claim will go to trial where it must be proven “on the balance of probabilities” and a judge with relevant specialist knowledge will mediate3.

Several civil courts operate in England depending on the type of case under trial. The County Court is an inferior court with limited jurisdiction over cases that do not exceed 30,000 GBP4. The High Court deals with more serious cases and appeals from the County Court. The biggest division of the High Court is the Queen’s Bench, which deals with tort and contract law, and has three special courts concerned with insurance, ships, and technically complex construction5. The Chancery Division of the High Court is concerned with corporate and personal insolvency, mortgages, intellectual property rights, and estate administration. The Family Division settles divorce and matrimonial property disputes, as well as wardship and adoption cases.

The purpose of criminal law is to determine if the defendant has committed behavior forbidden by the state and impose a suitable punishment. The accused is sent a summons to appear in court, or formally arrested, questioned, charged with the crime and taken to court6. All criminal cases start at the Magistrates’ Court and the vast majority finish there7, but indictable-only offenses that require a jury, such as murder and treason, move to the Crown Court8. Juries decide whether the Crown Prosecutors have proven the defendant’s guilt “beyond reasonable doubt” and the judge imposes a prison sentence, community sentence, a fine or a discharge9. If either the prosecution or the defendant seek appeals based on administrative inconsistencies, the case goes to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court; with appeals against sentence or conviction, to the Court of Appeal10. From there, if the case concerns a law with general public importance, it can head to the Supreme Court.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlights three dimensions of civil justice effectiveness: trial length, accessibility, and predictability of court decisions11. Firstly, English civil cases suffer from excessive delay, with the mean time for first instance trials summing up to 350 days, one of the highest in the OECD12. The Civil Justice Review considers delay a matter of public concern because it causes stress, reduces availability of evidence, and lowers the public estimation of the legal system13. Secondly, accessibility is evaluated along the informational, geographical, and financial dimensions14. England and Wales’ net cost of legal aid compared to the value of the claim falls just above the average mark15. Thirdly, predictable court decisions guarantee the certainty and uniformity of law16. Although it is difficult to quantify, it is generally accepted that appeals will occur when uncertainty is high. England and Wales have the lowest rates of appeals before the second instance per capita17. Despite the excessive delays, England’s low rate of appeals and average legal accessibility leads to the conclusion that it has a fairly effective legal system.

The effectiveness of the criminal justice system is under question. In 2019, 5.3 million crimes were recorded by police in England in Wales, compared to 3.9 million in 201218. However, the number of prosecutions fell by 46 percent19. Around two-thirds of trials are delayed or do not go ahead, and victims have to await trial for an average of 134 after the case leaves the Magistrates court and the start of the Crown Court hearing20. Most delays are due to 38.4 percent of cases not reviewed by Crown Persecution Service (CPS) before court21. It is generally accepted that this is due to the fact that the CPS is facing an increasingly complex caseload, but also because of cut funding and staff. Criminal legal aid expenditure was cut by 35 percent from 2011 to 2019, and full-time staff numbers fell by 2,41022. Criminal justice in England in Wales is suffering from poor performance because of delays and inefficiencies caused by insufficient budgeting.

In conclusion, civil and criminal justice in England and Wales is a highly complex system. While it has a well-regulated code of procedures, it is suffering from excessive delays and high costs that undermine public trust in its efficiency. However, the low rate of appeals reveals the reliable uniformity of law when and if the case manages to go to court. In order to increase efficiency, the appropriate overseeing governmental bodies need to reconsider the justice system’s current funding amount and improve the accessibility of law to the general population.

On-Time Delivery! Get your 100% customized paper
done in
as little as 3 hours
Let`s start

Reference List

Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. “Criminal Justice”. Courts and Tribunals Judiciary [website], n.d.

Criminal Procedure Rule Committee, Ministry of Justice. “Criminal procedure rules and practice directions 2020”, UK Government [website], 2020.

Frost, T., Huxley-Binns, R. and Martin, J. Unlocking the English legal system. New York, Routledge, 2019.

Horder, J. Ashworth’s principles of criminal law. UK, Oxford University Press, 2016.

House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts. “Efficiency in the Criminal Justice System”. United Kingdom Parliament [website], 2017.

Ministry of Justice. “Civil justice statistics quarterly: October to December 2020”, UK Government [website], 2021.

Palumbo, G., Giuppono, G., Nunziata, L., Mora Sanguinetti, J.S., The Economics of Civil Justice: New Cross-country Data and Empirics (OECD Economics Department Working Papers No. 1060)

We’ll deliver a custom paper tailored to your requirements.
Cut 15% off your first order
Use discount

Slapper, G. and Kelly, D. The English legal system: 2016-2017 (17th ed.). New York, Routledge, 2016.

Sturge, G. and Lipscombe, S. “Is the criminal justice system fit for purpose?”. House of Commons Library [website], 2020.

Wilson, S., Rutherford, H., Storey, T., Wortley, N., and Kotecha, B. English legal system (4th ed.). UK, Oxford University Press, 2020.

Harry Woolf, Access to Justice: Interim Report to the Lord Chancellor on the Civil Justice System in England and Wales (Lord Chancellors Dept 1995).

Footnotes

  1. Wilson, S., Rutherford, H., Storey, T., Wortley, N., and Kotecha, B. English legal system (4th ed.). UK, Oxford University Press, 2020.
  2. T. Frost, R. Huxley-Binns, and J. Martin. Unlocking the English legal system. New York, Routledge, 2019.
  3. Courts and Tribunals Judiciary. “Criminal Justice”. Courts and Tribunals Judiciary [website], n.d. Web.
  4. T. Frost, R. Huxley-Binns, and J. Martin. Unlocking the English legal system. New York, Routledge, 2019.
  5. Slapper, G. and Kelly, D. The English legal system: 2016-2017 (17th ed.). New York, Routledge, 2016.
  6. Criminal Procedure Rule Committee, Ministry of Justice. “Criminal procedure rules and practice directions 2020”, UK Government [website], 2020. Web.
  7. Horder, J. Ashworth’s principles of criminal law. UK, Oxford University Press, 2016.
  8. Criminal Procedure Rule Committee, Ministry of Justice. “Criminal procedure rules and practice directions 2020”, UK Government [website], 2020. Web.
  9. Wilson, S., Rutherford, H., Storey, T., Wortley, N., and Kotecha, B. English legal system (4th ed.). UK, Oxford University Press, 2020.
  10. Horder, J. Ashworth’s principles of criminal law. UK, Oxford University Press, 2016.
  11. Palumbo, G., Giuppono, G., Nunziata, L., Mora Sanguinetti, J.S., The Economics of Civil Justice: New Cross-country Data and Empirics (OECD Economics Department Working Papers No. 1060)
  12. Palumbo, G., Giuppono, G., Nunziata, L., Mora Sanguinetti, J.S., The Economics of Civil Justice: New Cross-country Data and Empirics (OECD Economics Department Working Papers No. 1060), p. 16.
  13. T. Frost, R. Huxley-Binns, and J. Martin. Unlocking the English legal system. New York, Routledge, 2019.
  14. Palumbo, G., Giuppono, G., Nunziata, L., Mora Sanguinetti, J.S., The Economics of Civil Justice: New Cross-country Data and Empirics (OECD Economics Department Working Papers No. 1060)
  15. Palumbo, G., Giuppono, G., Nunziata, L., Mora Sanguinetti, J.S., The Economics of Civil Justice: New Cross-country Data and Empirics (OECD Economics Department Working Papers No. 1060), p. 17.
  16. Palumbo, G., Giuppono, G., Nunziata, L., Mora Sanguinetti, J.S., The Economics of Civil Justice: New Cross-country Data and Empirics (OECD Economics Department Working Papers No. 1060)
  17. Palumbo, G., Giuppono, G., Nunziata, L., Mora Sanguinetti, J.S., The Economics of Civil Justice: New Cross-country Data and Empirics (OECD Economics Department Working Papers No. 1060), p. 20.
  18. Sturge, G. and Lipscombe, S. “Is the criminal justice system fit for purpose?”. House of Commons Library [website], 2020. Web.
  19. Sturge, G. and Lipscombe, S. “Is the criminal justice system fit for purpose?”. House of Commons Library [website], 2020. Web.
  20. House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts. “Efficiency in the Criminal Justice System”. United Kingdom Parliament [website], 2017. Web.
  21. House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts. “Efficiency in the Criminal Justice System”. United Kingdom Parliament [website], 2017. Web.
  22. Sturge, G. and Lipscombe, S. “Is the criminal justice system fit for purpose?”. House of Commons Library [website], 2020. Web.

Cite this paper

Select style

Reference

StudyCorgi. (2022, December 21). Civil and Criminal Law in the English Legal System. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/civil-and-criminal-law-in-the-english-legal-system/

Reference

StudyCorgi. (2022, December 21). Civil and Criminal Law in the English Legal System. https://studycorgi.com/civil-and-criminal-law-in-the-english-legal-system/

Work Cited

"Civil and Criminal Law in the English Legal System." StudyCorgi, 21 Dec. 2022, studycorgi.com/civil-and-criminal-law-in-the-english-legal-system/.

* Hyperlink the URL after pasting it to your document

1. StudyCorgi. "Civil and Criminal Law in the English Legal System." December 21, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/civil-and-criminal-law-in-the-english-legal-system/.


Bibliography


StudyCorgi. "Civil and Criminal Law in the English Legal System." December 21, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/civil-and-criminal-law-in-the-english-legal-system/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2022. "Civil and Criminal Law in the English Legal System." December 21, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/civil-and-criminal-law-in-the-english-legal-system/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Civil and Criminal Law in the English Legal System'. 21 December.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.