• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Do judges make law? The legal systems within the United Kingdom were based largely on judge-made law (

Extracts from this document...


Do judges make law? The legal systems within the United Kingdom were based largely on judge-made law (law developed through decisions by judges necessary to decide cases brought before them - called "common law" or case-law) until around the seventeenth century. Each jurisdiction developed its own forms of common law, with Scotland being especially distinct from the rest. Since that time, new laws and law reform have increasingly been brought about through Acts of Parliament, usually inspired by policies of the Government of the day. Even so, the development of case-law still remains an important source of law. A statement of law made by a judge in a case can become binding on later judges and can in this way become the law for everyone to follow. Whether or not a particular pronouncement (technically called a precedent) by a judge sitting in court when deciding a case does become binding (according to the doctrine of "stare decisis" - stand by what has previously been decided) ...read more.


The reasoning must be a matter pertaining to the law rather than a factual decision. In addition, the pronouncement must not be obiter dictum - something said either about the law or the facts of the case which is "by the way", in other words, not strictly necessary for the legal basis for the decisions. Only the ratio decidendi will be binding. It will comprise the legal principles and rules which are necessary to solve the problem before the court. Obiter dicta are not binding, but they may be treated as of "persuasive authority" - later judges are entitled to read them and be influenced by them, but they are not obliged to follow these parts of judicial pronouncements. We can summarise these rules -as the doctrine of precedent (or, to use lawyers' language, the doctrine of stare decisis). A later judge will have to determine (i) what pronouncements from earlier decisions are binding and (ii) ...read more.


So when we think of laws in modern times, we often think of sections in an Act of Parliament. Statutes can be applied to all or any combination of jurisdictions within the United Kingdom, whereas the common law jurisdictions are more limited. Acts of Parliament which apply to everyone throughout one or more jurisdictions are called public general Acts. But Acts may also be limited to geographical locations within a jurisdiction (e.g. the W est Yorkshire Act 1980 and local bye-laws) or to specific persons or companies. Reasons for the use of delegated legislation are as follows: * to save time in Parliament - the time taken to scrutinize statutory instruments is often zero or, at most, an hour or two; * to allow for expert input into their design and technical language to be used in their wording * to allow flexibility in responding to events and representations There are also powers under the Local Government Act 1972 for local authorities to issue delegated legislation - these are called bye-laws. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree English Legal System section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree English Legal System essays

  1. Do Judges Make New Law in Hard Cases?

    He calls these 'plain cases'. 3 Hart provides an example using a rule that prohibits vehicles in a park. He focuses on the meaning of the word 'vehicle' in the rule and how it is interpreted . Would a car be seen as a fact that clearly fit the rule?

  2. Explain the relationship between the common law (judge made law), and the following historical ...

    valid because it is not of a legal right but of certain control. In the case of Mills V Colchester Corporation5 because of the latter circumstances, the court refused to enforce the custom. Moreover, the custom must be reasonable, meaning that there should be no contradiction with the fundamental principles of right and wrong.

  1. Judges Make Law

    However since the Lord Chancellor's Practice Statement 2 says that the House of Lords can depart from it own previous decision. A leading case to illustrate this is R v R 3 where rape within a marriage is a crime.

  2. Free essay

    Legal systems - Comparison between Civil Law and Common Law

    absolutely despotic paternal authority, the appointment and duties of guardians; the law of intestate succession; the sale and pledge of property. Of course, the main, but not unique source of modern civil law is constitution. There are also other sources: codes rules and order of Ministry and Department, decision of the local bodies.

  1. 'The role of the judge is to declare what the law is, and not ...

    There are hundreds of cases and different precedents being produced each day so the law keeps changing, judgements need to be recorded accurately to avoid confusion and it has to be possible for judges to be able to establish the ratio decidendi from cases.

  2. Sources of Law - Judicial precedent.

    He was convicted of assaulting the police officer in the execution of his duty and appealed on the grounds that at the time he committed the act of driving onto the officers foot, he lacked the mens rea, and although he had the mens rea when he refused to remove

  1. Where judges do not follow precedent (or where they distinguish binding cases on dubious ...

    First, it makes it clear to the parties and to everyone else that his decision is based not on a mere whim or the toss of a coin in his chambers, but on impartial rules of law. Second, it is from the judge's reasoning that lawyers extract the legal principles to be applied to subsequent cases.

  2. Dispute Solving - Solicitors, Barristers, and Legal executives

    1. Age - 52-53 at first appointment 2. Gender - Male (Max 20% female in low courts 3. Ethnic Minorities - None until Circuit judge - Varies from 1%-3.2% at stipendiary 4. Education - Went to public school 75-80% - Oxford/Cambridge graduate 80% 5. Chambers - Secret whispers (some chambers give better chance)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work