Common Law

The Common law was the law of England after the Norman Conquest in 1066 AD. It is now prone to be overridden by Statutory Law, by Acts  of Parliament. With the spread of the British Empire, it was established round the world. Before the Normans arrived we had Anglo-Saxon law; it is explained by Wiki. There is a good analysis in Anglo-Saxon Law ex Britannica. It does not mention #Peine Forte Et Dure, a method of Torture used to force people to plead guilty or not. If they did not plead their property was not forfeit to the Crown. The obstinate held out to the death. It was banned in 1772.


Common law ex Wiki
Common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law or case law) is the body of law developed by judges, courts, and similar tribunals.[1][2][3][4][5] The defining characteristic of “common law” is that it arises as precedent. In cases where the parties disagree on what the law is, a common law court looks to past precedential decisions of relevant courts, and synthesizes the principles of those past cases as applicable to the current facts. If a similar dispute has been resolved in the past, the court is usually bound to follow the reasoning used in the prior decision (a principle known as stare decisis). If, however, the court finds that the current dispute is fundamentally distinct from all previous cases (called a "matter of first impression"), and legislative statutes are either silent or ambiguous on the question, judges have the authority and duty to resolve the issue (one party or the other has to win, and on disagreements of law, judges make that decision).[6] The court states an opinion that gives reasons for the decision, and those reasons agglomerate with past decisions as precedent to bind future judges and litigants. Common law, as the body of law made by judges,[7][8] stands in contrast to and on equal footing with statutes which are adopted through the legislative process, and regulations which are promulgated by the executive branch (the interactions are explained later in this article). Stare decisis, the principle that cases should be decided according to consistent principled rules so that similar facts will yield similar results, lies at the heart of all common law systems.[9]

A "common law system" is a legal system that gives great precedential weight to common law.[11][12][13][14] Common law systems originated during the Middle Ages in England,[15] and from there propagated to the colonies of the British Empire. Today, one third of the world's population live in common law jurisdictions or in systems mixed with civil law, including[16] India, the United States (both the federal system and 49 of its 50 states), Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Canada (both the federal system and all its provinces except Quebec), Malaysia, Ghana, Australia,[17][18] Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Singapore, Burma, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cyprus, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados,[19] Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Namibia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Botswana, Guyana, and Fiji. Many of these countries have interesting variants on common law systems, noted in the body of the article (and linked in the list above).


Anglo-Saxon law ex Wiki
Anglo-Saxon law
(Old English ǣ, later lagu "law"; dōm "decree, judgement") is a body of written rules and customs that were in place during the Anglo-Saxon period in England, before the Norman conquest. This body of law, along with early Scandinavian law and Germanic law, descended from a family of ancient Germanic custom and legal thought. However, Anglo-Saxon law codes are distinct from other early Germanic legal statements - known as the leges barbarorum - in part because they were written in Anglo-Saxon, instead of in Latin. The laws of the Anglo-Saxons were the second in medieval Western Europe after those of the Irish to be expressed in a language other than Latin.


Anglo-Saxon Law ex Britannica
Anglo-Saxon law
the body of legal principles that prevailed in England from the 6th century until the Norman Conquest (1066). In conjunction with Scandinavian law and the so-called barbarian laws (leges barbarorum) of continental Europe, it made up the body of law called Germanic law. Anglo-Saxon law was written in the vernacular and was relatively free of the Roman influence found in continental laws that were written in Latin. Roman influence on Anglo-Saxon law was indirect and exerted primarily through the church. There was a definite Scandinavian influence upon Anglo-Saxon law as a result of the Viking invasions of the 8th and 9th centuries. Only with the Norman Conquest did Roman law, as embodied in Frankish law, make its influence felt on the laws of England.

Anglo-Saxon law was made up of three components: the laws and collections promulgated by the king, authoritative statements of custom such as those found in the Norman-instituted Domesday Book, and private compilations of legal rules and enactments. The primary emphasis was on criminal law rather than on private law, although certain material dealt with problems of public administration, public order, and ecclesiastical matters.

Before the 10th century, the codes often merely presented lists of compositions—money paid to an injured party or his family—but by the 10th century a new penal system had evolved based on outlawry (declaring a criminal an outlaw), confiscation, and corporal and capital punishment. By this time there also had been an increased development of the law relating to administrative and police functions.

The Anglo-Saxon legal system rested on the fundamental opposition between folkright and privilege. Folkright is the aggregate of rules, whether formulated or not, that can be appealed to as an expression of the juridical consciousness of the people at large or of the communities of which it is composed. It is tribal in origin and is differentiated on highly localized bases. Thus, there was a folkright of East and West Saxons, Mercians, Northumbrians, Danes, and Welshmen, and these main folkright divisions persisted even after the tribal kingdoms disappeared in the 8th and 9th centuries. The responsibility for the formulation and application of the folkright rested, in the 10th and 11th centuries, with the local shire moots (assemblies); the national council of the realm, or witan, only occasionally used folkright ideas. The older laws of real property, succession, contracts, and compositions were mainly regulated by folkright; the law had to be declared and applied by the people themselves in their communities.

Folkright could, however, be broken or modified by special enactment or grant, and the foundation of such privileges was royal power, especially once England became a single kingdom in the 10th century. In this manner a privileged land tenure was created; the rules pertaining to the succession of kinsmen were replaced by concessions of testamentary power and confirmations of grants and wills, and special privileges as to levying fines were conferred. In time, the rights originating in the royal grants of privilege came to outweigh folkright in many respects and were the starting point for the feudal system.

Before the 10th century an individual’s actions were considered not as exertions of his own will but as acts of his kinship group. Personal protection and revenge, oaths, marriage, wardship, and succession were all regulated by the law of kinship. What began as a natural alliance later became a means of enforcing responsibility and keeping lawless individuals in order. As the associations proved insufficient, other collective bodies, such as guilds and townships, assumed these functions. In the period before the Norman Conquest, much regulation was formalized by the king’s legislation in order to protect the individual. In the area of property, for example, witnesses were required at cattle sales, not to validate the sale but as protection against later claims on the cattle. Some ordinances required the presence of witnesses for all sales outside the town gate, and others simply prohibited sales except in town, again for the buyer’s protection.

The preservation of peace was an important feature of Anglo-Saxon law. Peace was thought of as the rule of an authority within a specific region. Because the ultimate authority was the king, there was a gradual evolution of stringent rules and regulations against violating the king’s peace.


Folk right
Is the law or right of the people as opposed to that of the privileged classes.


Circuit Judges ex Wiki
Circuit judges
are judges in England and Wales who sit in the Crown Court, county courts and certain specialized sub-divisions of the High Court of Justice, such as the Technology and Construction Court. There are currently over 600 circuit judges throughout England and Wales.

The office of circuit judge was created by the Courts Act 1971 and replaced the former offices of Chairman of Quarter Sessions and Borough Recorder.[1] Circuit judges are styled His or Her Honour Judge X and are referred to as His or Her Honour. They are sometimes referred to as "purple judges" on account of their purple colour dress robes.[2] Part-time circuit judges are known as Recorders but are also addressed as "Your Honour".

Circuit judges rank below High Court judges but above District judges. They may be appointed to sit as deputy High Court judges. Some are also eligible to sit in the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal, though they are the more senior circuit judges.

Until April 1, 2005 there were six court circuits in England and Wales, namely the Midland, Northern, North Eastern, South Eastern and Western circuits, and the Wales and Chester circuit. On that date, following the creation of Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS), the circuits were replaced by seven regions: Midlands, North West, North East, South East, London, South West and Wales.

Formerly, circuit judges could only be drawn from barristers and solicitors of at least 10 years' standing.[3] However, in 2004 there were calls for increased diversity among the judiciary that were recognised and the qualification period was changed[4][5] so that, as of 21 July 2008, a potential circuit judge must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 7-year basis.[6]

When hearing criminal cases, circuit judges wear a violet robe with lilac trim, bands, a short horsehair wig and a red tippet (sash) over the left shoulder. For civil cases the tippet is lilac and neither bands nor wigs are worn. When sitting at the Old Bailey, and for some types of High court work, circuit judges wear a black silk gown over a court coat or a waistcoat.[7] On ceremonial occasions they wear violet robes with a lilac trim and a full-bottomed wig.


Quarter Sessions ex Wiki
The courts of quarter sessions or quarter sessions were local courts traditionally held at four set times each year in the Kingdom of England (including Wales) from 1388 until 1707, then in 18th-century Great Britain, in the later United Kingdom, and in other dominions of the British Empire.

Quarter sessions generally sat in the seat of each county and county borough. They were abolished in England and Wales in 1972, when the Courts Act 1971 replaced them and the assizes with a single permanent Crown Court. In Scotland they survived until 1975, when they were abolished and replaced by district courts and later by justice of the peace courts.

The quarter sessions were named after the quarter days on which they met in England and Wales from 1388. These days were later settled as Epiphany, Easter, Midsummer, and Michaelmas sessions.[1]


Common Law ex Wiki
The common law was made by judges to replace local law in England. Circuit Judges went from town to town trying cases then discussing the principles applied at dinners in the Inns of Court. The point was that similar cases should be treated alike. This is called stare decisis in Latin. The approach has spread though much of the British Empire. It is distinct from Roman civil law.

One principle that deserves much wider application is that of Unjust Enrichment. It would be resisted by a lot of rich crooks who got that way precisely because they abused that idea.


Peine Forte Et Dure ex Wiki
Peine forte et dure
(Law French for "hard and forceful punishment") was a method of torture formerly used in the common law legal system, in which a defendant who refused to plead ("stood mute") would be subjected to having heavier and heavier stones placed upon his or her chest until a plea was entered, or the defendant died.

Many defendants charged with capital offences would refuse to plead in order to avoid forfeiture of property. If the defendant pleaded either guilty or not guilty and was executed, their heirs would inherit nothing, their property escheating to the Crown. If they refused to plead their heirs would inherit their estate, even if they died in the process.

The common law courts originally took a very limited view of their own jurisdiction. They considered themselves to lack jurisdiction over a defendant until he had voluntarily submitted to it by entering a plea seeking judgment from the court.[1] Obviously, a criminal justice system that could punish only those who had volunteered for possible punishment was unworkable; a means was needed to coerce them into entering a plea.[2] Alternatively, individuals were frequently tried under the law of the sea as observed by Bracton.[3]


Errors & omissions, broken links, cock ups, over-emphasis, malice [ real or imaginary ] or whatever; if you find any I am open to comment.
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Updated on 03/08/2017 16:00