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Тема 10.

Civil courts.

  1. The most important civil courts are the county courts, which deal with minor cases, and the High Court, before which more serious matters are brought.

  2. Most appeals go to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) in London.

  3. The Civil Division can provide legal remedy against judgements of the High Court and the county courts.

  4. More than 500 county courts are grouped into over 50 circuits with at least one judge for each such circuit.

  5. The judges called 'circuit judges' since the Court Act of 1971 are appointed by the Crown on the advice of the Lord Chancellor.

  6. They must be barristers with at least seven years of experience.

  7. The High Court of Justice is above the county courts.

  8. It has several divisions.

  9. The Chancery Division consists of the Lord Chancellor and ten judges, and deals with questions of company law, bankruptcy, trusts, the administration of the estates of people who have died, tax and some other matters affecting finance and property.

  10. The Family Division deals with divorce and questions arising out of wills well as questions affecting children (adoption, or guardianship, for example).

  11. There are about 30 judges in the Chancery and Family Divisions of the High Court of Justice, who deal only with civil cases, almost all in London.

  12. The Queen's Bench Division consists of the Lord Chief Justice and about fifty other judges.

  13. They divide their time between civil work in London, the Central Criminal Court (or “Old Bailey"), also in London, and visits to the provincial Crown Courts.

  14. The High Court judges still wear robes and big wigs in court.

  15. They are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor, and retire at age 75.

  16. The Queen's Bench Division with the widest jurisdiction is both the main civil court for disputes involving more than 5,000 pounds, and the main criminal court.

  17. It also deals with suits for libel.

  18. The Division also takes appeals from lower courts, mostly the Magistrates' Courts.

  19. The Queen's Bench Division includes a Commercial Court that specializes in large commercial disputes, and an Admiralty Court for Shipping cases.

  20. These three divisions were unified into one High Court in a major judicial reform in 1875, but they are still in many respects separate.

  21. High Court judges try civil cases alone, except for a few cases like defamation false imprisonment or fraud.


Тема 12.

Courts of Appeal.

  1. The intermediate appellate tribunal is the Court of Appeal.

  2. The Master of the Rolls and fourteen Lords Justices constitute this court.

  3. The Lord Chief Justice, who presides over the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, normally sits when criminal appeals are tried.

  4. The appointments are for life, subject to mandatory retirement at age 75.

  5. The Court of Appeal has two divisions - Civil and Criminal.

  6. The Civil Division hears appeals from the High Court as well as from county courts and a few more specialized courts.

  7. The Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal is competent to deal with appeals against decisions of the first instance made by the Crown Court.

  8. Criminal appeals are usually heard by three judges.

  9. The Lord Chief Justice frequently presides in the Criminal Division.

  10. In the Civil Division senior Lord Justice ( or the Master of the Rolls) normally presides over the other two Lords Justices.

  11. The decisions are based on documents supplemented by the arguments of barristers.

  12. Appeals against decisions of the Court of Appeal can be lodged with the House of Lords.

  13. The House of Lords, in addition to being a part of the legislature, is the highest court in the land.

  14. The judges of the House of Lords are Lords of Appeal in Ordinary.

  15. They are ten in number.

  16. The president of the House of Lords as a court is the Lord Chancellor.

  17. So, he is the highest judge in the kingdom.

  18. The other Law Lords are judges from English courts or from Scottish or Northern Irish judiciary.

  19. Five Lords of Appeal in Ordinary normally deal with any particular case.

  20. They sit in a small room in Westminster Palace. The Lords express their opinion on the case and vote at hand.

  21. A person accused of an offence is sure of a fair and open trial, and enjoys good protection against the possibility of an unfair decision.

  22. Justice, both civil and criminal, operates with reasonable speed, and the excellent system of free legal aid and advice to people with low income is of great benefit.


Magistrates' Courts

Magistrates' Courts are the people's courts, formerly known as police courts, the lowest tier in the criminal justice system.

There are around 28,000 lay magistrates sitting in the 700 or so courts in England and Wales (the system is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland). They deal with more than two million cases a year, and perform a variety of other functions as well.

Their main job is to deliver 'summary justice' to people charged with less serious crimes (grave offences are dealt with at the Crown Court).

8 Crown Courts

Crown Courts have existed only since 1972.

When there is a jury, the judge's role is limited to deciding matters of law and summing-up to the jury. The jury decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

There are 94 Crown Court centres in England and Wales, many of them consisting of several courtrooms.

The most famous Crown Court in England, and perhaps, the most famous court in the world, is the Old Bailey. Officially the Central Criminal Court, it stands on the site of Newgate prison, and was completed in 1907.

The Crown Court acts also as the appeal court against both convictions and sentences by magistrates. When the appeal is against conviction, the Crown Court judge re-hears all the evidence that witnesses have already given in the lower court, but there is no jury. For all appeals the judge sits with two, three or four lay magistrates.

County Courts

Just as the Magistrates' Courts deal with the vast majority of criminal. cases, county courts take on most of the smaller civil cases. In general, they deal with breach of contract or tort cases involving up to 5,000 pounds. They also have jurisdiction over most matrimonial matters. They can grant divorces and make a range of orders relating to money, property and children. There are county courts all over England and Wales, around 270 altogether. The judges have the rank of circuit judge, the same level as those who sit in the Crown Court.

The High Court

The 81 High Court judges are distributed between the three divisions, which have their home in London's Royal Courts of Justice, an eccentric Victorian Gothic building on the Strand, with outposts in some 25 large provincial towns and cities.

The biggest of the divisions, with the widest jurisdiction, is the Queen's Bench (King's Bench). Its most important function is as the main civil court for disputes involving more than 5,000 pounds. Claims for money owing, and actions for damages arising from motor and work accidents are the High Court's main folder. It also deals with suits for libel. The division also includes a Commercial Court, which specialises in large commercial disputes, and an Admiralty Court for Shipping cases.

The Family Division deals with divorce; disputes between warring spouses involving children, property or money; adoption, wardship, and other questions affecting children.

The Chancery Division deals with tax, interpretation of wills, companies, settlements, trusts, and various other issues affecting finance and property.

The Court Of Appeal

The Court of Appeal is the main repository of dissatisfaction with the decisions of lower courts. Above it is the House of Lords.

There are two divisions of the appeal court: the head of the Criminal Division is no less than the Lord Chief Justice, the country's top judge. The Civil Division is led by the Master of the Rolls. It is yet another oddity of the system that these, the two most senior judges, do not sit in the most senior court, the House of Lords.

The Civil Division hears appeals from the High Court as well as from county courts and a few more specialised courts.

The House Of Lords

The House of Lords is the final arbiter not only of all English law, but also of Scottish civil, though not criminal, law. The Law Lords do not deliver judgements like all other judges, they make speeches. They do not come to a decision, they take a vote on a motion that the appeal be dismissed or allowed.

Some Other Courts


The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Its jurisdiction is now confined to hearing appeals from the remaining colonies, and from those former British territories which have chosen to retain it as their final appeal court. The judges of the Privy Council are predominantly the same Law Lords that normally sit in the House of Lords, with the addition, every now and again, of eminent judges from Commonwealth countries,

The Employment Appeal Tribunal was set up following the great increase in recent years of disputes arising from employment, especially involving unfair dismissal or discrimination. The court hears appeals from industrial tribunals. Every case is heard by a High Court judge and two lay members chosen for their knowledge and experience of industrial relations: trade union officials, for instance, and representatives of employers' organizations.

The Restrictive Practices Court which is of the level of the High Court, has various powers to stop or control restrictive or monopolistic practices in the supply of goods and services - for example, agreements between ostensibly competitive companies to charge a minimum price for their products, against the interests of the consumer.

Coroners' Courts. Coroners, who must be qualified lawyers or doctors, have a duty to hold public inquests into any violent, unnatural or suspicious death, or in the case of a person dying suddenly without any obvious cause, or in prison or in police custody. Coroners' inquests are not trials, but witnesses are called, and there is often a jury who decide on the manner of death - suicide, unlawful killing, misadventure or accident - or (where they are not sure) return an open verdict.

Tribunals. Outside the normal hierarchy of the courts, flourishes a parallel structure of administrative and judicial bodies lumped together under the genera! description of tribunals. Some of them have been in existence for a century or more, but they have proliferated especially in the last thirty years, since the creation of the welfare state. The sixty or so tribunals cover a wide range of subjects, from tax to mental health, from forestry to patents. Some of the most important and widely used are the industrial tribunals, where workers can claim compensation for unfair dismissal; the supplementary benefit appeals tribunal; rent tribunal; and the immigration appeals tribunal.

The tribunals differ in their membership and rules of procedure, but they all conduct themselves according to the principles of justice used by the courts.

Two Foreign Courts

Two courts outside Britain's boundaries have recently come to play a big part in her affairs. The two deal with completely different issues, and belong to different regional institutions,

The European Court (more properly, the Court of Justice of the European Community, called the European Union - EU - since 1993) sits in Luxembourg. It is the court of the EU, and therefore Britain, as its member, is under its jurisdiction on matters affecting the EU.

The European Court of Human Rights sits in Strasbourg (France) and operates under the umbrella of the Council of Europe.


Тема 9.

Criminal courts.

  1. Magistrates' Courts. Every person charged, with an offence is summoned to appear before a local Magistrates' Court, which may impose a fine up to a general limit of 2,000 pounds or six months' imprisonment.

  2. With 98 per cent of cases the magistrates on the bench decide on guilty or innocence, and if necessary, what penalty to impose.

  3. With more serious cases the magistrates can decide only to send them

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