The nature of law and the English legal system

This unit will count towards the A/S qualification and involves studying the following areas of the Law.

Nature of law

  • Basic understanding of the distinction between enforceable legal rules and principles and other rules and norms of behaviour.
  • Basic understanding of the differences between criminal and civil law and between different sources of law including custom, statute law and the common law.

The rule of law

Basic understanding of the constitutional doctrine of the rule of law and its application to law making, the legal system and substantive law:

  • no person shall be sanctioned except in accordance with law
  • equality before the law
  • fairness and clarity.

Law making: parliamentary law making

Parliamentary law making including:

  • Green and White papers
  • the formal legislative process
  • the influences on parliament
  • the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy and limitations on it
  • the advantages and disadvantages of influences on parliamentary law making.

Law making: delegated legislation

  • Types of delegated legislation: orders in council, statutory instruments, bylaws (from local authorities and public bodies).
  • Parliamentary and judicial controls on delegated legislation.
  • The reasons for the use of delegated legislation.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of delegated legislation.

Law making: statutory interpretation

  • The rules of statutory interpretation: literal, golden and mischief rules; the purposive approach.
  • Internal (intrinsic) and external (extrinsic) aids.
  • The impact of European Union law and of the Human Rights Act 1998 on statutory interpretation.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches to statutory interpretation.

Law making: judicial precedent

  • The doctrine of judicial precedent.
  • The hierarchy of the courts including the Supreme Court.
  • Stare decisis, ratio decidendi and obiter dicta; law reporting in outline and the reasons for it.
  • The operation of judicial precedent: following, overruling and distinguishing.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of the doctrine of judicial precedent and the operation of precedent.

Law making: law reform

  • The work of the Law Commission: reform, codification, consolidation and repeal.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of reform through the Law Commission.

Law making: the European Union

  • The institutions of the European Union: the Council, the Commission, the Parliament and the Court of Justice of the European Union and their functions.
  • The different sources of European Union law: treaties, regulations and directives.
  • The impact of European Union law on the law of England and Wales.

The legal system: the civil courts and other forms of dispute resolution

  • Basic understanding of civil courts, including the track system and the appeal system.
  • Other forms of dispute resolution: outline of the tribunal structure and the role of tribunals. The roles of mediation and negotiation.

The legal system: the criminal courts and lay people

  • Basic understanding of the criminal process including the classification of offences and the appeal system.
  • Criminal court powers and sentencing of adult offenders.
  • The role of lay people: the role and powers of magistrates in criminal courts and the role of juries in criminal courts.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of using juries in criminal courts.

The legal system: legal personnel and the judiciary

  • Basic understanding of the different roles of barristers, solicitors and legal executives.
  • Basic understanding of the regulation of legal personnel.
  • The judiciary: types of judge.
  • The role of judges in civil and criminal courts.
  • The independence of the judiciary: security of tenure, immunity from suit, independence from the Executive.
  • Reasons for and advantages of judicial independence and methods by which it is achieved.

The legal system: access to justice and funding

  • Basic understanding of alternative sources of legal advice: help lines, Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), law centres and trade unions.
  • Private funding: own resources, insurance and conditional fee agreements.
  • Basic understanding of public funding: criminal and civil state funding.

© AQA 2017