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Cours d’Anglais Juridique

Licence 2
Année Universitaire 2005/2006

Mme Frison

English law is the law applicable to England and Wales. It is different from Scottish law,
Scotland having different laws concerning family laws and contracts. As for Northern Ireland,
it has specific laws concerning mainly terrorism.
English law is limited to England and Wales but it has a great influence over the laws in a
number of countries :
• -Scottish
• -Irish
• -The law of the
• -Australian
• -New Zealand
• And more generally over the laws of England's
former colonies.
• Although all these countries have laws which have developped in
different ways, they all have in common the bases of the Common Law
and they are called Common Law Countries.
• The term «British Institutions» covers the institutions common to the
whole United Kingdom, that is to say :England,Wales, Northern Ireland
and Scottland. For instance,the British Parliament is an institution
(which includes representatives from England,Wales, N.Ireland and
Scotland) common to the whole UK.
• The principles of the law was recognized in England at a very early
period. It has been accepted since the time of Magna Carta in 1215.
Magna Carta has been the symbol of public liberties for English men
but also for the rest of Europe. Its scope (sa portée) was greatly
exagerated at the beginning: it guaranteed a number of liberties to all
free men at a time
• when all men were not free. And it was only in the 15th century when
bondage was abolished and all men were free that it could be applied
to all. Although it was a symbol, Magna Carta marked the beginning of
the law applicable to all including the King.
• Magna Carta was followed by a number of other laws and statutes
passed by Parliament which gradualy limited the King 's power and
prerogatives, so that today Parliament has the sovereignty and the
King, like anybody else, is limited in his actions by the legislation
adopted by Parliament.

Thus, since the Crown Proceedings Act of 1947, the Crown is liable for
any prejudice occasionned to third parties by itself, its agents or
employees, so that the motto (formule) «the King can do no wrong» is
no longer true today. In the same manner, any state department, any
branch of the administration can be brought before the courts by any
citizen who thinks he has been wronged in his rights .
• In England , but also in the whole UK, the source of all legislation is
Parliament. Its Acts are applied to all and prevail over all the sources of
law (Common Law and Equity).
• The House of Commons is free to legislate as it pleases. It is bound (to
bind, bound, bound, lier) by no precedent and by no previous
legislation. Contrary to the French situation, there is no control of the
constitutionnality of the laws. Last,the laws passed by Parliament are
binding upon the courts (must be applied by the courts), although
English courts have an important power of interpretation of the laws.

• CHAPTER 1 :The British


• It is composed of two chambers


• - a lower chamber, the House of


• - an upper chamber :the House of


The history of Parliament can be summed up to the gradual

but sure growth

• of the House of Commons at the expense of (aux dépends

de) the House of

• Lord
• SECTION 1 :Parliament

• 1. Origins of

• The Parliament has its origins in the Middles Ages. At that period the
King governed with the help of two councils :

• The Privy Council, composed of the King's personal advisers who

helped him in the day

• to day administration of the Kingdom.

• -The King's Council,(Great Council) composed of representatives of the

Counties, of the Towns (boroughs) and of the Nobility, to whom the King
submitted his financial demands. In fact, these representatives were
asked to vote the taxes.

• The Privy Council was to become the executive.The King's

Council was to

• become the

• In the beginning, the King's Council was composed in an informal way

without any define criterion and their numbers fluctuated.

• In 1213, King John Lackland summoned (convoquer) 4 representatives

(sheriffs) of each county to sit at the King's Council.
• In 1265, during the civil war between the King and his Barons, the
leader of the Barons summoned a first Parliament with two
representatives from each town and two representatives of each

• In 1295, King Edward 1st summoned what historians have called the
Model Parliament composed of 400 representatives of all the orders (or
estates) of the Kingdom including the Clergy.

• At that time, to discuss the taxes and problems submitted to them by

the King, the Nobility sat in one room and the representatives of the
Commons (the Commoners) sat in another room. After the separate
deliberation, the two groups met in plenary session during which they
told the King of their decisions through their respective speakers.

• Although in the beginning the Lords had an obvious advantage that of

being the direct advisers of the King and the necessary intermediates
between the Commons and the King, the Commons very quickly
acquired the primacy in financial matters.

• Simply because the wealth of the Country was in the hands of the
middle classes (burgesses of the towns and small nobility of the
counties), from the 15th century the King took the habit of submitting
his demands for taxes first to the Commons. Taxes had to be approved
first by the Commons before being submitted to the approval of the

• The precedence of the Commons on financial matters does not mean

that the Commons were all-powerful in the Middle Ages or later. In fact
it was only in the 19th century after the first reform bill of 1832
(electoral reform) that the House of Commons became independant of
the Lords and no longer composed of placemen and nominees of the

• A series of successive electoral reforms in the 2nd half of the 19th

century will reinforce the independance of the Commons, in particular
two successive acts against electoral corruption at the end of the 19th
century will make the Commons totally free of any source of pressure.

• In the 20th century two Parliament Acts voted in 1911 and 1949 will
consolidate the precedents of the Commons. The 1911 Parliament Act
suppressed the right of veto of the Lords for financial bills and reduced
their right of veto to a suspensive veto of two years for other bills. The
1949 Parliament Act reduced the suspensive veto of the Lords to one

• for ordinary

• 2. Independance of the Commons against the

Royal power.

• In the beginning, the King's Council had been created by the King to
serve his own aims and needs. They were summoned by the King at his
own pleasure (when he pleases). That is to say, when he needed

• Nowadays, Parliament is sovereign, it decides legislation (financial or

not) and sits most of the time (permanently) whatever the King or
Queen thinks.
• The medieval situation until the beginning of the
17th century.

• In the 16th and 17th century a succession of absolute monarchs

reduced Parliament

• to an instrument of the Royal policy and particularly an instrument to

levy taxes. Parliament was only summoned when the King needed
money and not at all to discuss foreign or home policy. The discontent
of Parliament resulted in a civil war and revolution, and the execution
of Charles the 1st (1649) and the instauration of the Republic.

• The Republic was of short duration. In 1660, the restauration took

place, the monarchy was re-established but it was no longer the same
monarchy. Its powers were defined and limited by Parliament and the
powers of Parliament were affirmed, especially its rights to meet
regularly and to discuss not only financial questions but also questions
of home and foreign

• polic

• The rest of English and British history will be a consolidation of the

powers of Parliament.

• On the occasions of the glorious revolution (1688-89) the Parliament

obliged James II to abdicate and will replace him by William and Mary of
Orange. They were obliged to accept the Bill of Rights of 1689 which
further limited the Royal power and reaffirmed the Parliament power.

• The Bill of Rights forbade (interdit) the monarch to suspend or refuse to

apply an Act of Parliament, to levy Taxes without the consent of
Parliament and to gather an army in peace time. It also granted
members of Parlamen (MP's) freedom of speech and stipulated that the
House of Commons should meet regularly and could debate on any

• SECTION 2 :Parliament

• It is still composed of 2
Houses :

• -the House of Commons

• -the House of Lords

• together they form the Houses of Parliament located at


• 1.Composition of the House of


• It is composed of 659 MP's as a result of general election of May

1997.At the 1997 general election the Labour party won a large
majority of seats so that the House of Commons is dominated by a
Labour majority; the Government has a Labour majority with Tony Blair
as Prime Minister.

• MP's are necessarily UK citizens over 21 who are not disqualified to

stand for Parliament. MP's are elected at most every 5 years at
universal suffrage by all UK citizens over 18 (under the 1969
Representation of People Act) . They sit mainly to answer questions
raised by other MP's on their policy.

• Government members (or ministers) belong to the House of Commons

and they sit at least 2 days a week.

• The House of Commons is presided over by the Speaker normaly is

elected by all the MP's at the beginning of each new Parliament. But in
practice, once a speaker is elected, he remains speaker until his
retirement or death.

• A change in the majority in the House of Commons does not mean a

change of speaker (he is above party politics). For these reasons, the
speaker does not profess any political opinion during the debates.
During the debates, he does not vote but has a casting vote (une voix
prépondérante) in case the 'yes' and the 'no' are in equal numbers. At a
general election,the speaker is a candidate without affiliation to a party.
He simply stands for Parliament as

• the speaker seeking


• 2.The House of Commons at


• a. Parliamentary
• The life of a Parliament is fixed by law at a maximum of 5 years. In
practice, Parliament lasts on average 4 years : the goverment usualy
dissolves the Parliament when the circumstances are favourable and
when it thinks it will renew or even strengthen (reinforce) its majority.

• The life of Parliament is subdivided into 5 Parliamentary sessions, each

Parliamentary session lasts about a year : from October to October.
Nowadays, the ceremonies of prorogation and opening of the
Parliament takes place on the same day. In practice, a session is
composed of some 160 to 180 sitting days.

Each session is opened by the Queen in solemnity . Only the Queen can
summon Parliament and dissolve it. On the opening of the session the
Queen delivers the speech from the Throne, in this speech she sums up
the work accomplished by the Government during the past session,
then she announces the

• Government's intentions for the new parliamentary session, in

particular the Bills which the Government plans to introduce (the
speech is not written by the Queen but by the Prime Minister or the

• The speech from the Throne is followed by a general debate of both

houses of the Parliament on questions of home and foreign policy
called :'the Grand Inquest of the Nation'.

• After this debate,the Commons can start its day to day work, 3
main activities :

• - law making

• - control of Government
expenses (30%)

• - control of Government work


• The control of the Government work which consists in questions asked

by MP's to Government members ,although it takes less time, is very
important for it gives rise to violent debates and can result in a vote of
no confidence /censure and in the fall of the Government.

b. Daily work in the House of Commons
• Sitting days take place from Mondays to Fridays mostly in the
afternoons and evenings. Sometimes there are full night sittings. The
mornings are devoted for each MP, to the reception of his constituency

• - Question time : each sitting day begins with a 45 minute

period devoted

• to the questions which MPs ask to Government members. These 45

minutes are the means for the electors to voice their grievances and
questions through their representatives (MPs) and also to obtain
information of some aspect of the Government's policy. Those
questions bear on the way in which the Government applies the laws
and fulfills its electoral promises. Ministers must answer the questions
(ministers do not sit everyday but they must take turns to answer
questions. The Prime Minister, for his part, must be present on
Tuesdays and Thursdays to answer questions. If a question raised by
an MP is a national or urgent issue, the Speaker will adjourn the sitting
day and the Commons will devote the sitting day to the discussion of
that question.

• Question time might be thought to be the occasion for the opposition

to embarrass the Government and possibly to defeat it. But it is also
the occasion for MPs belonging to the majority to ask questions which
will enable the Government to expose its policy in details.

• - Motions: most of the work of the House of Commons is done by way

of motions which are proposals proposed to the House of Commons by
one of its members. In case of approval of a motion, the House of
Commons votes either an order by whitch it commands a Civil Servant
to do something, or a resolution by whitch it expresses its opinion as a
corporate body. Any MP, wether or not he belongs to the majority, can
propose a motion. Each motion involves a debate during which only the
official Speakers (or Front Benchers) of the majority and of the
opposition (the Back Benchers very seldom (rarement) take part in the
debate). After the debate on a motion, usually the House of Commons
proceeds to a division to vote. All MPs leave the House those who are in
favour of the motion enter through the Government lobby or Ay lobby
and those who are against the motion enter through the opposition
lobby or No lobby. Motions are used by the Government to have the
Commons approve its policy, in so far as normally the Government
holds the majority in the Commons. Sometimes, even members of the
majority disagree with a motion and the motion obtains a vote of no-
confidence by which the Government is put in a minority, it is then
obliged to modify its policy or to resign.

• c. The Law-making

• The process of legislation constitutes the major part of the work of the
Commons. If the process of legislation is done at 90% by the House of
Commons, the Commons are not the legislative body.The legislative is
composed of the Commons + the Lords + the Monarch.

• The first stage/ step of the law making process/ the legislation process
is the bill. There are 4 categories of bills :

• 1-public

• 2-private members

• 3-private

• 4-hybrid

• Public bills are bills at the initiative of a member of the government,

aiming at modifying existing legislation in the UK. Most of the time such
bills are the implantation of the policies of the party which won the
elections and which is now in office. Very often they are the
implantation of the electoral promises made by the party in power.

• For example : In 1945 the Labour Party had been elected on a program
of social services in 1946 it introduced a bill which became the National
Health Service Act.

• Private members bills are bills at the initiative of any member of the
Parliament (Commons or Lords). They too aim at changing the
legislation in force in the UK, but most private bills do not go any
further than their first reading because they are not ensured by the
support of the majority in the House of Commons.

• Although many private members bills fail, some very important acts
were originally introduced by private members. This was the case for
the Murder (abolition of death penalty)1965 or for the Abortion Act.

Private bills differ from public bills and private members bills in their
scope.They concern either the status of an individual (personal bills) or the
status of a place or region (local bills). Personal bills are rare nowadays
and must be initialized by the House of Lords.

Hybrid bills combine characteristics of both public and private bills. They
aim at changing the legislation for the whole UK, but they affect only
individuals or specific groups. For example : the British Museum Act 1964
and the Seven Bridge Toll Act 1965 are hybrid bills.

We shall concentrate on the law-making process concerning public bills

which when voted, become statutes (=laws).

The first stage for a public bill is its introduction in the House
of Commons :

- The first reading : that occasion is a mere (simple) formality, only the
title and the name of its author are mentionned before the Parliament (no
debate and no vote). A public bill is introduced only after approval by the
cabinet. If there is no opposition on the part of the House of Commons, the
text of the bill is printed and distributed to all MPs.

- The second reading: (the MPs have read the text) the minister who
drafted the bill presents it before the House of Commons. He explains it
and justifies it. A debate follows, it is limited to the aim of the law, to its
risefulness and to the means necessary to implement it (mettre en
œuvre).The debate is followed by a vote (by division). Many bills don't go
beyond the second reading.

If the Commons approve of the bill, it is sent to the


- The Committee stage: the bill is handed over to a committee which

checks that the bill doesn't contravene existing laws and which proposes
amendments to improve the project. Standing committees can examine
any sort of laws but only the Committee of the whole House can examine
financial bills.

- The report stage: the President of the Committee presents a report

before the House of Commons. A debate follows both on the contents of
the bill and also on the amendments suggested by the Committee.

- The third reading: the House of Commons proceeds to the final

examination of the project, then votes by division.

If the 'NO' prevails, the bill will not

become a law.

If the 'YES' prevails, the law-making process continues and the bill is
sent to the House of Lords.

- The approval by the House of Lords: it is a mere formality because

since the Parliament Act of 1911&1949, the House of Lords can only delay
the passing of a law by a year (and it cannot delay at all the passing of a
financial bill).The House of Lords can propose amendments which must
receive approval of the Commons. After a year, even though the House of
Lords still oppose it, the bill is sent to the Monarch for the Royal Assent.

- The Royal Assent: before a law can be promulgated the Monarch must
give his assent. The Royal Assent is nowadays a mere formality: since
1707 no King or Qeen has refused his or her assent to a legal text voted by
both Houses.

Once promulgated the legal text becomes an act of Parliament or a

statute. A statute can come in force either immediatly on its promulgation
or at a later date indicated in the text. According to the Community, a
statute is applicable either to the whole UK or to England and Wales with
slightly different versions for Scotland and N.Ireland.

As a conclusion, the House of Commons is the most important element in

the law-making process.The House of Lords being relegated to a symbolic
role nowadays.

3. The composition of the House

of Lords.

The House of Lords is composed of some 1300 members or

Lords, divided into


- the Lords spiritual: they are a survival of the past (of the times when
the Church was all-powerful and the Kings main advisers and ministers
were high-ecclesiastics). There are 26 Lords spiritual: 2 Archbishops (York
and Canterbury) and 24 Senior Bishops (Church of England).

- the Lords temporal: they are over 1200 and they are of 3 sorts: the
hereditary peers (dukes, barons, earls, viscounts…) they are 788, about
2/3 of them sit in the House of Lords; the life peers of more recent creation
have existed since the Life Peerage Act 1958, they are 365, they are
people who were rewarded for services offered to the Crown, their title
doesn't survive them, all former Prime Ministers become automatically life

- the Law Lords are appointed for life by the Monarch upon a
recommandation of the Lord Chancellor. There are only 11 law Lords plus
11 retired law Lords who cannot sit as judges, but who still continue to sit
at the House of Lords. The law Lords are former judges of the Court of
Appeal or former famous baristers.

In theory, any of those Lord could sit in the House of Lords, but in
practice,many Lords never came especially the hereditary pears almost
never came.

Only the life peers and the law Lords take an active part in the
proceedings of the House of Lords.

In 1963, the Peerage Act was voted to allow hereditary peers to renounce
to their titles in order to stand as candidates for the House of Commons
and to take an active part in the political life.Thus in 1963, Lord Home
renounced his title to become Sir Douglas Home, he became MP and could
then be appointed Prime Minister of the Conservative Government formed
in 1964.

4. Daily work of the House of


a. Sitting
days :

The Lords sit about 120 days

each year.

The main characteristic of the House of Lords is the absenteism of its

members. On important debates or on voting days, there are rarely over
300 members in the House. On normal days, the average is 30, and the
quorum is only 3 (3for a debate and 30 for a vote). Some Lords, especially
among hereditary peers, never attend and only turn up (apparaître) for the
opening of the Parliament by the Queen.
Although the majority of ministers are issued from the majority in the
Commons, the Lords are also represented in the Government by the
Speaker of the House of Lords who is automatically responsible for justice
and a member of a cabinet, he is the Lord High Chancellor (minister of

Contrary to the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Speaker of the

House of Lords takes part in the debates and votes, and defends the
policies of the party to which he belongs. It is to be noted that the party
system exists in the Commons, although many hereditary peers insist on
belonging to no party.

b. The functions of the House of

Lords :

- Legislative functions are very


Although most public bills are initiated by Government in the House of

Commons, in theory the House of Lords can introduce bills except financial

In practice, it initiates mainly private bills and occasionnally private

members bills and hybrid bills.

Most of the time the House of Lords contents itself with examining and
voting on bills already examined and passed by the Commons or
proposing amendments.

- Judicial

Although in the past the ultimate Court of Appeal of the Kingdom was the
whole/plenary House of Lords, today it is composed of the eleven law

The main function of the House of Lords, as a judicial body, is to be the

ultimate Court of Appeal for the UK.

CHAPTER 2: English
SECTION 1: Statute law or the law elaborated by

A/ English law has suffered an important


Traditionaly statute law represented only a limited part of the law and
statute law consisted mainly in case law (both Common Law and Equity).
Nowadays the situation has changed radically, in the 20th century and
especially since World War 2, statute law has played a more and more
important role /part.

Statute law has developped in an unprecedented way, first the economic

development of Britain resulted in a proliferation of legislation in the fields
of commerce and contracts, secondly on the accession to power of the
Labour party in 1945 the Government enacted a number of laws aimed at
regulating the economy and creating a welfare state. It thus passed the
National Health Service Act and a number of other acts regulating the
relationships between the individuals and the state.

Today, statute law plays a preeminent part and in case of conflict of law,
statute law prevails.

The only difference between statute law and written law in continental
countries like France or Germany is to be found in the application of the
law: English judges having an important power of interpretation of the law.

The word law

covers :

1.Acts of Parliament properly


2.Delegated legislation which consists in the

application of statutes

The UK does not have a written constitution, the only one in Britain history
was the one drafted by Cromwell in 1653 called the Instrument of
Government. That constitution which was in force during Cromwell's
Republic or Common Wealth was abolished in 1660 on the restauration of
the English Monarchy.

What the English call their constitution is a body of rules (some written,
some non written) and traditions which guarantee the fundamental
liberties of the Brittish citizens and which limit the power of the

Parliament is the only body to enjoy

unlimited power.

Britain has no constitutional body which can check the validity of the laws
(statutes) adopted by Parliament. The only check on Parliament is the
control exercised by public opinion and by pressure groups.

B/ Classical theory in
English law.

The traditional approach of statute law was that statutes were a

secondary source of law.

Statutes were regarded as complements wich filled the gaps of the main
body of law, namely caselaw, or which corrected the errors of caselaw or
which updated rules of law which have become obsolete.

From the 13th to the 19th century, statute law was regarded as an
appendix to the law.

In the 17th century, English judges still refused to apply the laws adopted
by Parliament and prefered to apply the rules of law established by
previous judges in previous decisions.

The traditional approach was strictly a

caselaw approach.

C. Nowadays

In the last 100 years and more especially since the end of World War II,
legislation has taken much more importance.

A number of statutes simply modified, simplified and updated existing

rules of law as produced by common law and equity.

With the change of regime and the instauration of socialism after 1945, a
number of statutes were passed reflecting the new relation between
individuals and the State and also creating new sectors of the public and
social life in the UK.

The second type of statutes aimed at building a new type of society at the
economic and at the social level.

Thus, in 1946 the National Health Service Act instituted free medical
care for all citizens.

The first type of law aiming at simplifying existing rules of law established
by common law or equity decisions were reinforced by an act of 1965
entitled Law Commission Act .

This act instituted two law

commissions :

One for England and Wales and one for


The object as defined by article 3 was the codification and simplification

and modernization of the law for each system of law.

CHAPTER 3 : The common


The term common law has a variety of meanings depending

on the context.

Taken in its broadest ( le plus large)meaning, it means unwritten law as

opposed to statute law or written law.

Historically, it means the law common to the whole kingdom as opposed to

the law specific to a region or category of persons.
Historically too, for a long time, it meant secular law as opposed to canon
law or ecclesiastical law.

Historically again, it meant the law of Anglo-Saxon origin or Norman origin,

as opposed to the civil law derived from (the) Roman law.

Last, more technically, it is the category of law which is neither

statute law, nor equity.

The term common law appeared for the first time in the
thirteenh century.

1-Originally, the components (composants) of the common law were first

the rules of law based upon (basé sur) the Anglo-Saxon concept of
folgright as defined in the laws of Edward 1st.

2-Customary law based upon rights established by

immemorial usage.

3-The day to day decisions of the court

or caselaw.

Given those components, the usual definition of common law is the body
of law, judicially evolved from the general custom of the realm (royaume).


The Anglo-Saxon period :


Formation of the common law:


Expansion of the common law and rivalty with

equity :1485-1832.

Modern period, preeminence of statute law : from then

to nowadays.

History of English law can be devided into four

main periods.

• Until 1066, Norman


• 1066-1485, accession of Tudor


• 1485-1832, beginning of Tudor absolutism to first

electoral reform.

• 1832-today. Common law has to face the preeminence

of statute law.
I From the beginning to the Norman

• The history of Anglo-Saxon law is not

well known.

The only thing we know for sure is that in spite of four centuries of Roman
domination, nothing remains of the Roman law in English law.

We know that in the days of Anglo-Saxon rule (domination), a number of

laws were drafted in the VIth andVIIth centuries.

In those days, different tribes (tribus) ruled over England, all of

German origins.

Contrary to the other laws of the time, Anglo-Saxon laws which varied from
one hand of the country to the other hand were not written in Latin but in
Vernacular (i.e. in Anglo-Saxon dialects).

Like the other laws of the time, Anglo-Saxon laws governed very limited
aspects of social life.

On the eve of the Norman conquest, Anglo-Saxon law continues to be

different in the different parts of the country.

Just before the Norman conquest, three sorts of Anglo-

Saxon law existed.

Dane law was applied in the coastal areas of the North and North-
East of England.

Mercian law influenced by german law was applied in the central

region of the Midlands.

Wersen law was applied in South and West

of England.

The law on the eve of the conquest was administered in three

types of courts.

County courts or shire courts were presided over by the sheriff

representing the King, the bishop and the oldest free man. They only
sat twice a year.

The hundred courts were smaller courts : A hundred was an

administrative division including some 100 inhabitants ; each county
was divided into several hundreds.

The franchise courts were courts of exeption, constituted by persons

authorized by the King to administer justice.

All these jurisdictions were competent both for civil cases or for
criminal cases.

II Formation of the common law


The Norman conquest did not immediately put an end to the Anglo-
Saxon legal system.

The Normans took over Anglo-Saxon law and

transformed it.

The Norman power was a military type of administration. The Normans felt
the necessity of controling the whole country and unifying the country.

The birth of the common law came from this necessity to unify England
and to submit it to one rule.

Justice was still rendered in the three types of courts which

existed before.

But gradually, the Lords obtained from the King permission to set up their
own courts of justice. So that, in parallel to the old Anglo-Saxon courts,
new courts (baronial courts or manorial courts) were created.

This new jurisdiction continues to apply the customary law which existed
in Anglo-Saxon law.

In parallel to the other courts, ecclesiastical courts were set up,

applying canon law.

The ecclesiastical courts were competent for cases involving the clergy
and for matrimonial and family cases.

After the conquest, ordinary disputes are brought before the old courts
(county and hundreds) or before the new baronial or matrimonial courts,
or before the ecclesiastical courts.

The king only renders « high justice » i.e. he only judges

exceptional cases.

When the peace of the Kingdom is threatened, when important

personalities are involved, when the ordinary courts cannot hear the case.

He judges with the help of his main barons, in his council

or Curia Regis.

The King's justice is not opened to


It is limited to important men and


For ordinary cases, the King sends representatives of his council who
attend to the hearing (audience) of the various courts throughout the

commissions :

Commission of gaol
delivery (jail).

Commission of oyer and


Commission of

The King's representatives or royal judges gradually formed

three commissions.

The commission of jail delivery whose task was to set free all
untrialed prisonners.

The commission of oyer and terminer whose judges must hear and
decide cases involving the most serious offenders like traitors and

The commission of assizes whose judges are competent for civil cases
and serious criminal matters.
Those royal judges who go from court to court throughout the country
were called « itinerant judges » and later « circuit judges ».

They are appreciated by the population because they are above local
quarrels and interests they make sure that justice is rended in a fair, non
corrupt and unprejudiced way.

At the same time, as he sends representatives to those various parts of

the country, the King appoints some of his advisers from the Curia Regis to
form a commission which sits at Westminster.

At that commission, the itinerant judges also meet on their return from the
country. There they discuss the various customs and decisions which they
met for similar cases in the different parts of the country.

They reject those customs and decisions which are absurd, obsolete or
unfair and they keep those which seem reasonable and grounded
(fondées, grounds=motifs).

This made a first unification of customary law into a body of law which was
uniform for the whole kingdom.

The growth of the common law met the opposition of the Lords, of the
barons and knights who resented the intervention of the royal judges in
the local courts because it meant a loss of power for them.

The Lords imposed on the king that royal judges should limit their
interventions to three types of cases.

Cases of royal

Real estate property


Offenses against the


To hear these three types of cases, three courts were instituted

at Westminster.
The court of the Exchequer which was to decide disputes relative
to royal finances.

The court of common please was competent for real estate

property cases.

The court of the king's bench was to judge offenses

against the state.

In the compromise between the king and the barons, it was accepted that
all other cases would remain under the jurisdiction of the old courts and
especially of the baronial and ecclesiastical courts.

At the end of the Middle-Ages, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the
King's power was strengthened.

Royal justice grew as the King's

power grew.

At the end of the fifteenth century, the royal courts of justice have almost
the monopoly of justice.

The ecclesiastical courts only judge disputes relative to the clergy or to the
sacrament of marriage.

The royal courts now judge all types

of cases.

In spite of this extension of their jurisdiction the royal courts of justice

were checked in their development by the rigidity of the common law

In particular the development of the common law was limited by

the «writ» system.

The writ was an official document signed by the Lord Chancellor ordering
the sheriff to summon the defendant to court at the request of the

Writs were delivered only for a limited number of

cases or actions.

It was delivered
for :
Writ for trespass (atteinte à

Writ for

Writ for

The most frequent writs were writs for trespass, when the defendant had
enclosed part your estate in an abusive way.

The writs for detenue, i.e. illegally holding somebody

else's property.

In fact, it was very difficult to obtain one from the


New type of

In the beginning it was the Lords who obliged the king to limit
the list of writs.

Gradually, the list of writs increased. New writs

were created.

But in spite of the extension of the number of writs, the list of writs
remained limited until the niniteenth century, so that plaintiffs could not
bring an action for any dispute ; so that many plaintiffs were left without
any remedy.

A second reason why plaintiffs were left without a remedy was the rigidity
of the procedure.

«Remedies preceed rights» is often said in English law. It means that

people have no strict legal rights, but only the rights existing through the
procedural formes.

Each writ was accompanied by a strict procedural form and the plaintiff
who did not follow the appropriate procedure lost his case.

The slightest mistake in the spelling of a name or in the small details of

the facts resulted in the dismissal of the case, so that again many plaintiffs
were left without remedies.

It was only in the nineteenth century with the Judicature Acts (1873 and
1875) that it became possible to obtain a writ for any type of case and
that the procedure became less rigid.

The Judicature Acts put an end to the limitation on the

common law.

The royal courts became ordinary jurisdictions which could hear and
judge any sort of case.

Also, the royal courts could now apply not only the rules of common law
but also the rules of equity.


It covers a number of

In its broad and popular meaning, it means natural justice and moral
justice and is a synonym for the French «équité».

In its narrow (étroit) and technical meaning, for Englih lawyers, it means a
number of rules and legal principles which are a complement to the main
body of legal rules of the common law.

Equity was born as a complement of the common law and not as a

rival body of law.

Decision Lord Dudley versus Lady

Dudley (1705)

Def. Equity is no part of the law but a moral vertue which qualifies
moderate and reforms the rigour and hardness of the law.

It also assists the law where it is defective and weak and defends the law
from crafty evasions, delusions and subtleties invented to evade and
delude the common law.

The common law was limited in its role by the rigidity of its procedure and
the restricted actions which the royal courts could hear.

When a plaintiff was faced with a miscarriage of justice (deni de justice)

his only hope was to petition the king for redress.

The King exercises his power as

sovereign justiciar.

As the number of petitions increased, the King delegated his power as

sovereign justiciar to his chancellor.

The King, then the Lord Chancellor judge the cases which were submitted
to them on the bases of their moral conscience.

Both the King and his chancellor were regarded as able to judge in their
moral conscience because the King was supposed to be the representation
of God on earth and the Lord Chancellor was an ecclesiastic and spiritual
guide for the King.


Under the Tudor and Stuart's kings in the XVIth and XVIIth centuries,
equity grew all the more so as absolutism prevailed.

The Lords Chancellors were no longer chosen from among the

higher clergy.

As their judicial tasks became heavier, the chancellors were also now
lawyers who had been formed according to the principles of the common

The consequence was that the Lords Chancellors instead of following the
inspiration of their moral conscience for each case began to apply the
methods of the common law.

They followed the same principles and the same rules

for similar cases.

The first Lord Chancellor to apply the method in equity was Lord
Ellesmere (1586-1617).

Later Lord Nottingham (Lord Chancellor too) decided that this method
would become a rule of equity so that he was called the father of equity.

Moral conscience remained important but the case was not analysed
in depth anymore.

The work of classification begun by Lord Nottingham was continued by his

successors so that any judge of the Court of Chancery applying equity had
to follow the rules laid down by his predecessors.

From the seventeenth century the Lord Chancellor was helped by a Master
of the Rolls who originally kept the archives or rolls of the Court of

From 1729, the Master of the the Rolls became a judge in his own right. He
heard the appeals against the decisions of the Court of Chancery.

Finally, in 1851, the court of appeal of the Chancery was created to help
the Master of the Rolls in his tasks.

The classification of equity resulted in a

certain rigidity.

The fact of following the same rule in similar cases created a uniformity
similar to that of the common law.

And yet, equity even today is not a fixed

system of law.

Equity is in a state of constant evolution in the name of moral conscience

and moral justice.

Thus, in the last 50 years, equity has created a number of

new principles :

For example a principle prevents a person from demanding the application

of their strict legal rights if this would create a prejudice for innocent third
III Problems created by the growth
of equity.

To be entitled to bring an action in equity before the Court of Chancery, a

plaintiff had to have been dismissed by a royal court in an action in
common law first.

This meant that the plaintiff had to pay twice and to

suffer long delays.

Even in the cases when the plaintiff's action was not dismissed, the
common law often proved inadequate and its remedies insufficient.

In the case of inexecution of the contract, the royal court only

awarded damages.

The plaintiff who wanted to obtain the execution of the contract had to
bring a second action in equity before the Court of Chancery.

In the same way, in case of trespass, the court applying the common law
only awarded the damages and the plaintiff had to go before the Court of
Chancery to obtain an injunction by which the court ordered the defendant
to stop the trespass.

Gradually, in the nineteenth century, the courts of common law began to

apply not only the rules of common law but also the rules of equity in
order to save the parties the cost of a second action. Yet such a practice
was used only when the equity solution was easy to find by the common
law judges.
In 1854 an act legalised that practice, the Common Law Procedure Act of
1854 empowered (habiliter) the courts of common law to issue injunctions.
A second act in 1858, the Chancery Amendement Act empowered the
Court of Chancery to award damages in lieu of (au lieu de) a decree of
specific performance.

But thes two acts gave only a limited


It was only the Judicature Acts in 1873 and 1875 which operated a real
administrative fusion of common law and equity.

The Judicature Acts group all the superior courts into one body : The
Supreme Court of Judicature.

It was ordered to apply indifferentely the rules of common law or the rules
of equity or both.
All parties were advantaged by the
new system.

IV. The contribution of equity to

English law.

A. Creation of new

Equity created new rights by giving legal force to some rights which the
common law refused to acknowledge.

The most important rights were uses and trusts, which were ignored by
the common law and which equity acknowledges as early as fourteenth

The system of the trust was developped for

historical reasons.

In the feudal system, when a lord went on war or on crusade, the risks
were such that he entrusted his property to a trustworthy person who was
to administer his property in the interest of his wife or his minor children
who were all incapable act law.

But the common law did not consider that the promise of the trusty
had legal force.

If the trusty was dishonest, the original owner of the property on his return
or the beneficiaries of the trust were remedyless.

At common law, the trusty has become the new owner of

the property.

Equity intervened and acknowledged of such promises and created

remedies in case of non-execution of the trust.

The system of the trust still exists and is very

much used today.
It still implies three
persons :

The original owner, the trusty and the


Sometimes, the original owner and beneficiary are the

same person.

Many charitable foundations also called charities or public trusts are

administered according to the system of the trust by a group of trusties
whose task consists in investing the properties and using the revenue to
help a category of people like the elderly.

Apart from public trusts, there are private trusts which are used by
families to administer their property.

B. Creation of new

Equity elaborated new remedies to enforce rights which were

acknowledged by the common law, but for which the common law has
inadequate remedies.

The most important remedies were the decree of specific performance in

case of inexecution of the contract when damages were insufficient.

-The rescission or annulation of the


If it created a prejudice for the other party or

third parties.

-The rectification of the


If the contract did not express the intentions of

the parties.
-Injunction to put an inspector (or official

In case of bankruptcy to prevent the defendant from destroying or selling

the property in liquidation.

• It is to be remembered that all these remedies have

discretionary characters.

They are used only in certain circumstances and are not obtained if the
plaintiff has misbehaved.

C. Creation of new procedural


In some cases, the common law procedure was not only too rigid
but also deficient.

For instance, in some actions at common law the defendant did not have
to (and sometimes was forbidden to) bring proof for his defense.

Besides, the royal judges limited their investigation to the parties without
taking into account (prendre en compte) the interests of third parties.

Last, the common law did not oblige the parties to bring written proofs,
which in some cases , like contracts, were necessary.

Equity introduced a written procedure that took into account the interests
of third parties and obliged the parties to bring written proofs when

D. In case of

In case of conflicts between the common law and equity, equity prevails
under the Judicature Act of 1873, still in force (en vigueur) today.

E. The maxims of

Judges have a discretionary power to grant (accorder) or refuse

equity remedies.

To obtain a equity decision, the plaintiff must not contravene (contredire)

the principles or maxims of equity.

Equity follows the


Normally, equity does not go against the rules of the common law, or
against statutes.

In practice, under the Judicature Act (1873), in case of conflict, equity

prevails over the common law.

Yet, statutes prevail over


«Equity acts in personam rather

than in rem».

This maxime means that equity aims at defending persons and their rights rather than
The trust is a good example : Equity defends privately the rights of the beneficiary.

Equity acts on the


Equity does not care so much for the strict legal rights of the parties as for
their conscience.
And it is in the name of moral conscience that equity intervenes, to oblige
a party that misbehaved to respect this moral promise.
In the same way, it is in the name of moral conscience that the concept of
contempt of court (mepris de la court) was invented.

In case of disobedience to an order given by the court of chancery, the

defendant was guilty of contempt of court, and was obliged to obey by

For instance, he was kept in prison as long as he

did not obey.

Equity looks to the intempt rather than

the forms.

It means that contrary to the common law, equity does not refuse to grant
a remedy because the procedural forms have not been followed.

Also, if the terms of the contract are not well formated, the parties will not
be bound by them.

Who comes to equity must have

clean hands.

A plaintiff who seeks an equity remedy must have acted in good

faith in the case.

A plaintiff who wants to obtain a decree of specific performance of a

contract will have to proof that for his part he has performed all his

Who seeks equity must do


The «E» principle is about past actions of the person who

seeks equity.

To obtain a decree of specific performance, the plaintiff must promise that

he will fulfill all his obligations.

Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without

a remedy.

Wrong (délit civil), offense (délit pénal).

These maxims sum up the spirit of equity and explain why it was born. It
means that equity, which is an open source of law in constant creation, will
always interfere, so that rights which are not protected by legislation or by
caselaw will be protected.

F. Main sphere of application of equity today.

The Judicature Acts (1873-

The Judicature Acts gave the Court of Chancery now called the Chancery division of the High
Court of Justice competence in :
Liquidation of
Redemption and forclosure of
Exemption of
Rectification and rescision of
Specific performances of
Partition and sale of real estate

The rules of the Supreme


They gave the Chancery division competence in all dispute concerning mortgages.

A number of more recent


They gave the Chancery division exclusive competence in matters of

bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Act of 1914.

Exclusive competence also in matters of company law under the

Companies Act of 1948.

More recently, a number of statutes having extended the competence of

the Chancery division to revenu disputes, town and county planning
disputes and Landlords and tenant disputes.

CHAPTER FOUR : The rule of precedent.

One of the main differences between the common law legal system and
the Roman-Germanic legal systems is to be found in their definition of the
rule of law.
This difference corresponds to the respective importance of caselaw and
legislation in the two systems.
Caselaw being regarded as the most important source of law in the
common law system.

For English lawyers and their followers in other countries, the legal rules
are to be found in the decisions of the superior courts, i.e. the decisions of
the Crown Court for criminal cases or the High Court for civil cases; The
decisions of the court of appeal and the decisions of the House of Lords.
Both the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords take civil and criminal

More precisely, the rule of law is to be found in the most important part or
core (cœur) of the decision called «the ratio decidendi».

An English decision consists in the statement of the facts of the case, the
list and analysis by the judges of the different statutes and precedents
relevant of the case and the discussion of them and final rejection(s),
these are called the «obiter dicta» and finally, the ratio decidendi in which
the judges explain the reason for their decision and the rule of law which
they have followed.

The rule of law adopted by the judges can be the same rule of law as in a
precedent or it can be a new rule of law in which case the judges will
explain why they modified this rule of law and created a new one.

One of the clearest definitions of the ratio decidendi is : The application of

the legal rule to the material facts of the cases.
Only the ratio decidendi contains the legal rule, the obiter dicta are never
regarded as legal rules.

The specificity of the English legal rule is that it is designed to give a

solution to a case caracterised by specific facts.
English lawyers do not look into statutes to find rules of law and they apply
legislation as interpreted by previous judges.

The English legal system is a caselaw system in which the decisions of the
courts replaced the provisions (dispositions) of the law.

The difference between the rule of law in the Roman-Germanic systems

and the legal rule in the English system is sometimes explained in terms of
a closed system as opposed to an open system.

The Roman-Germanic systems are closed systems which make a coherent

whole in which any question can be solved by interpreting a provision of
the law.

English law is an open system which does not have rules applicable to all
To solve a case, an English judge examines the rules of law contained in
existing precedents and adapts them to the facts of the case.

If the facts of the case are the same as those precedents, the judge will
apply the same legal rule.
If the facts are different, the judge will distinguish the present situation
from the the previous one, and will adapt the previous rule to the fact of
the case.
Thus, creating a new legal rule, that is why English law is called judge
made law.
I Operation of the rule of precedent.

In a system based on caselaw, judges are obliged to apply the decisions

laid by their predecessors.
But, all predecessors do not have the same value or the same weight.
Their weight depends on the rank of the court in the judicial hierarchy.
The judicial hierarchy was established by the Judicature Acts (1873-75).

At the top of the hierarchy is the House of Lords, whose decisions are
binding on all lower courts in the hierarchy.
Until 1966, the House of Lords was itself bound by its own precedents, but
since that date, it has been able to reverse its own decisions.

The High Courts and Crown Courts are binding for inferior courts.

The inferior courts are bound by the decisions of the superior courts but
they are never bound by their own decisions.

The European Court of Justice.

Since Britain entered into The European Community in 1972, the decisions
of the ECJ are binding precedents for all English courts for under the
European Community Acts and under the article177 of the Treaty of Rome.
European law is now part of English law.

Nevertheless, if the same point of law is brought a second time before an

English court and if the court does not wish to apply the precedent
established by the ECJ, it can take the case before the ECJ again, as the
ECJ does not apply the rule of precedent and is not bound by its own
previous decisions.

It can sometimes obtain a new decision which is then bound to execute.

II The persuasive precedents.

The only precedents which are binding are those laid by the Superior
The decisions rended by other courts like the inferior courts or by prior
judicial bodies like the administrative tribunals are never binding.
Yet, they may have a persuasive value and can be used as precedents by

The decisions that can be persuasive precedents are :

1-Decisions from a court which is lower in the hierarchy than the

court which must decide the case. For example, the civil division of the CA
is not bound to follow a decision from the high Court of justice.
But it cannot do so if the decision is especially to the point.

2-Decisions from a court of another common law country can be used

as a persuasive precedent by an English judge.
Thus, decisions from a high court of Australia or some decisions from the
American courts have been used as precedents to solve several English

3-Decisions of the judicial commitee of the Privy Council also have a

persuasive value.
This court does not belong to the English judicial hierarchy.
It is the ultimate appeal against a decision by the highest court of a
Commonwealth country.
Normally, as it does not belong to the judicial hierarchy, its decisions
should not be binding precedent for the English courts.
But because the judges who sit in the privy Council are the law Lords who
normally sit in the House of Lords, its decisions are regarded by English
judges as persuasive precedents.

III Limitations to the rule of precedent.

The technique of

In theory, the rule of precedent is absolutely binding on all English courts.

In theory, the only remedy to avoid a binding precedent which is unfair or obsolete, is to
introduce a bill and to have Parliament pass legislation on the question.

Because of the sovereignty of Parliament, the new act will prevail on caselaw.
But this is a very long process.
In practise, English judges can avoid applying the rule of precedent through the technique of
They can pretext that the case before them is slightly different from the previous text to
modify the rule of law and create a new rule of law.

The publication of

The scope (portée) of the rule of precedent is also limited by the process
of selection of precedents before they are published.
All the decisions of the superior courts are not published.
Those decisions which only apply to law applicable to the case, when the
law is obvious and those decisions which are not clear and which can be
criticized are not published.

The law reports contain only about : 75% of the decisions of the HL (i.e.
some 30 DC every year)
25% of the DC of CA.
10% of the HC anc CC.
Chapter 5 : The competence of the courts.

English law does not differ from other systems of law in its distinction
between civil law and criminal law.

English civil law includes C law, the law of tort, family law and the law of
It governs the relation «rights and duties» of individuals and the disputes
between individuals. In most civil cases, the plaintiff sues the defendant to
obtain damages for that he suffered. Such a lawsuit is judged before the
civil court and its jurisdiction.

English criminal law on the contrary is the State's response to violation

and contravention of the law.
In the extent where the State must preserve public order, it is the duty of
the State to punish all offenses and all those who break the peace.
Thus, the State prosecutes the accused who if they are found guilty will be
sentenced to pay a fine or to serve a prison sentence.
The criminal courts have jurisdiction over such criminal cases.

The problem of English law is that some courts have jurisdiction both over
civil cases and criminal cases.

I Competence of the civil courts.

The magistrate's

The magistrate's courts are for the most part composed of laymen, i.e. non professional judges
who volontary accept to sit as part time judges for minor cases.
The civil jurisdiction of a magistrate's court is limited. They decide in actions in recovery,
epecially for such debts to official or quasi-official bodies as income tax, national insurance
contribution, water, gas or electrical charges.

They also decide domestic cases such as separation, maintenance (pension alimentaire),
affiliation, gardianship of infants (tutelle) and adoptions.
Decisions of the magistrate's courts in such dispute can be appealed against before the family
division of the High Court of Justice.

The magistrate's court also have jurisdiction over liquor licences, over betting licences and
over theatre licences.
For licences, appeals against the decision of the magistrate's court must be brought before the
Crown Court.
The county

Most disputes when the amount at state does not

exceed £5000.
Action in recovery of land when the net taxable value of the land does
not exceed £10 000
Disputes to which equity applies such as dispute about trust,
mortgages or partnership. The amount at state does not exceed £30
Litigious probate matters when the amount at state (property of the
deceased) does not exceed £30 000.
Undefended divorces and related problems of maintenance and custody
(garde) and also under the 1984 Matrimonial and Family Proceeding
Act, some defended divorces.
Disputes relating to company winding-ups when the paid up capital
does not exceed
£ 15
Disputes about prizes when the amount claimed does not exceed £5
000 and about salvage when the amount does not exceed £15 000.
Disputes relative to consumer credits when the amount does not
exceed £15 000.
All cases normally under the jurisdiction of the High Court (i.e. when the
amount at state exceeds the above-mentioned sums). Also when, the
parties to limit the costs and delays agree to have the case judged by a
county court.
Cases of bankruptcy without any
Disputes relating to fair trading
Cases of hand
Dispute with local government
Race relations
Cases of river
All cases relating to rents (bill) and to hire-purchases (location-ventes)
for which the county courts have exclusive jurisdiction.

Normally, the jurisdiction of the county courts is limited to the county itself, except for cases
of bankruptcy.
Except for bankruptcy, appeals of points of law against a county court decision go directly
before the civil division of a court of appeal.
For bankruptcy, cases such as appeals must be brought before the Chancery dividion of the

The High Court of Justice


The HCJ was instituted by the Judicature Acts (1873-1875).

In theory, there is only one HCJ located in London.
In practise, there are sessions in the provinces in some 25 provincial trial
centers called first tier centers of the Crown Court located in the main
provincial towns.

The HCJ is composed of three divisions.

The Queen's bench

The Chancery
The family

It normally judges as a first instance jurisdiction, but it can also be appelate jurisdiction to
judge appeals against DC or inferior courts.

Although in theory, any division of the HCJ can have jurisdiction over any type of case.
In practise each division is specialized and has its specificity.

This specialisation was confirmed by the Supreme Court Act of 1981 which listed the specific
jurisdiction of each division of the HCJ.

The Queen's bench


The Queen's bench division has a very wide jurisdiction both original and
appelate and both civil and criminal.

As an original jurisdiction, it has unlimited jurisdiction over all civil cases.

It judges most of the time property cases, cases of break of contract, cases
of break of duty (responsabilité extra contractuelle) and cases of tort.

The Chancery division (CD).

The CD is the direct heir (héritier) to the medieval court of chancery.

It has jurisdiction only over civil matters. It sits mainly as a first instance
court with a single judge.
Its jurisdiction has been confirmed by the Supreme Court Act of 1981.
It is very wide and covers :

The sail and partition of land as well as charges on

lander property.
Administration of the estate of deceased persons and litigeous
probate matters.
Execution of
The redemption and forclosure of
Dissolution of
The specific performance, rectification, setting aside and
rescission of contracts.
Patents, trade marks, registered designs and
Appointment of

More recent legislation has also given the Chancery division jurisdiction
over :

1) Disputes rel ating to revenue claims.

2) Towns and country planning problems.
3) Landslord and tenant disputes.

Mental Health Act 1983 gave the Chancery jurisdiction over disputes
rela ting to the estate of mental patients.

Although the Chancery division is mainly an original jurisdiction it can

sometimes sit as an appelate court.

With a single judge, it can hear income taxes appeals against decisions of
the Commission of England's revenue.

With two judges, it can sit as divisional court of the Chancery division and
hear appeals against decisions of the court in case of bankruptcy and land

3. The family division.

The family division has jurisdiction over all domestic and family cases.
Its jurisdiction was confirmed by the 1981 Supreme Court Act.
Under the Supreme Court Act of 1981 :The family division has
jurisdiction over :
All matrimonial cases for which it is empowered to grant decrees of
divorce, decrees of nullity (annulation de mariage) or decrees of judicial

All cases related to children such as cases of legitimacy, cases of

custody or guardianship (tutelle), of maintenance and right of access
(droit de visite), of affiliation and cases of adoption.
It is also competent for non litigious
probate matters
Applications (demandes) for marriage
of a minor.

The family division is a first instance court but it can hear appeals of the
county courts in affiliation cases, adoption cases or questions of

The court of appeal: civil division. The court of appeal as a whole is

composed of the Lords High Chancellor, the Master of the Rolls and 23
Lords Justice of appeal.
In theory it is presided over by the Lord Chancellor but in practice by the
Master of the Rolls.
Under the Supreme Court Act of 1981, the number of the Lords Justice of
appeal cannot exceed 23.
The division of the Court of appeal into the Civil Division and the Criminal
division dates back to 1966.
To sit as a court, the civil division must be composed of at least 3 judges
(or sometimes 5 and sometimes 7). The civil division can hear appeals
against the decisions of the High Court.
The appeals can bear on the facts or on the points of law.
The technique of the appeal before the court of appeal consists in the
rehearing of the case which simply means that the civil division re-
examines the case in full on the bases of the minutes of the High Court
The civil division sometimes hears appeals against decisions of the county
courts when the appeals bear on points of law, according to the “Legs Frog
In the 20th century only the House of Lords has retained judicial functions
which were formerly shared with the House of Commons.
Until the end of the 19th century any lord could sit and decide on cases
submitted to the House of Lords. The Appelate