A) To what extent are judges in the Court of Appeal and House of Lords free to depart from previous decisions and practice? By Sarah James

Essay by marcbolanUniversity, Master'sA+, November 2004

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The English legal system has many sources of law including European law, statute law, case law, and custom law. Statute law and case law are the two major sources of law and will be discussed in this essay. Firstly though, this essay will discuss and evaluate the civil and criminal court systems and the hierarchy of the courts. It will then go on to critically assess the doctrine of judicial precedent, and theories of declaratory and original law. Finally, this essay will analyse the process of making legislation and evaluate the rules of statutory interpretation.

Civil courts are there in order to settle disputes between private citizens (individuals or companies) or between private persons and the state. Civil law deals with things such as compensation claims, taxation claims, property rights and matrimonial disputes. It is the aim of civil law to protect and enforce rights and obligations. Civil wrongs include such things as breach of contract, breach of trust or a tort.

Criminal courts exist to determine whether defendants have broken the criminal law. The defendant may be punished if found guilty of a crime. The courts are classified by whether they are superior or inferior.

The European court of justice deals with European law. This court is the highest in the hierarchy of the courts and all other courts are bound by its decisions. However, the European court of justice is not bound by its previous decisions and can decide to change them. The House of Lords is the next court in the hierarchy and it deals with both civil and criminal cases and all other courts are bound by its decisions, although, since 1966 when the Lord Chancellor issued a Practice Statement, the House of Lords can use judicial precedent to depart from a previous decision where they...