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Complete the sentences. There is more than one possibility for some answers.
1. In many systems a president rather than a monarch is ............... ............... ............... .
2. The UK system has a parliament with two ............... .
3. As in other countries, the courts are organised in a ............... of levels.
4. The Scottish Parliament has the ............... to legislate on subjects not reserved to Westminster.
5. The EC is an important legislative ............... in most European countries.
6. A number of international ............... have been incorporated into national law.
Unit 2 SOURCES OF LAW: LEGISLATION
Background to making a new law
The predominant sources of law in the United Kingdom are:
Ø primary legislation, known as Acts of Parliament or statutes, which begin life as drafts called Bills;
Ø secondary or delegated legislation, such as statutory instruments, bye-laws, and professional regulations.
A new Act 15 passedin order to:
Ø update or amend existing legislation;
Ø legislate for new circumstances and enforce government policies;
Ø ensure UK compliance with International or European Union (EU) Law;
Ø consolidate laws by bringing together into one statute all the existing statutes on one topic;
Ø codify rules by bringing together all the case law and statutes on a particular subject where the principles are established.
Parliament can enact any law it chooses or repeal obsolete laws which are no longer relevant, and the courts must enforce it. The exception to this is EU law.
Early development of Bill
The government may proceed to initiate a consultative process by the publication of a Green Paper in which its proposals are set out at an early stage with the intention of attracting public response and comment. The government's White Papers contain their more definite proposals, although these are often published following consultation or discussion with pressure groups, professional bodies, or voluntary organisations. A Bill does not have to be preceded by a White or Green paper, although it may have been presented for public scrutiny, that is, examination, in draft form earlier.
Passing an Act
All Acts must be submitted to both Houses of Parliament in the draft form of a Bill. The legislative process involves three readings in both Houses. At the first reading, the title is read to Members of Parliament (MPs); at the second reading, MPs debate proposals.
Then a standing committee will scrutinise the provisions in the Bill and may amend it to ensure that it enshrines the principles debated and approved at the second reading. This is reported back to MPs. At the third reading, the Bill is re-presented. The Bill then goes through readings in the upper house.
The actual draftingof the legislation is undertaken by Parliamentary Counsel. Finally, a Bill must receive Royal Assent from the monarch before it becomes law on a specified date. In fact, this stage has been reduced to a formal reading of the short title of an Act in both Houses of Parliament and is now a formality.
Government Bills are introduced by the Government; Private Members Bills are proposed by MPs. Both methods may result in Public Acts that govern the general public. Private Acts affect particular individuals or institutions.
Find verbs that can be used to make word combinations with the words below. There is more than one possibility for some answers.
1 .............. Acts or Parliament.
2 .............. new statutes.
3............... existing legislation.
4............... obsolete law.
5 .............. statute law, case law, and amendments into one Act.
6............... law by repealing and re-enacting in one statute provisions of a number of statutes on the same subject.
Complete the sentences. Pay attention tо the grammatical context.
1 An order made under authority delegated to a government minister by an Act of Parliament is known as a ............. .
2 A ............. is made by a local authority or a public or nationalised body and has to be approved by central government.
3 Charities like: Oxram and Help the Aged can act as ............. lobbying for law reform.
4 The Committee needs en ensure the Bill incorporates the principles agreed so they check it by ............. ............. ............. .
A visiting Russian colleague is asking an English solicitor about the legislative process. Replace the underlined words in their conversation with alternative words. Pay attention to the grammatical context. There is more than one possibility for two of the answers.
Natasha: How is new legislation enacted?
Charles: Well, initially the (1) draft legislation has to be (2) presented to both houses. The draft is (3) discussed several times. A committee has the job of checking that the Bill (4) incorporates the fundamental elements (5) agreed at the second reading. After this, the Bill is (6) shown again to the lower house.
Natasha: Who does the (7) formal writing of the legislation?
Charles: It's (8) done by qualified barristers employed as civil servants, known as Parliamentary Counsel.
Natasha: Who can (9)put forward Bill?
Charles: The government and, less commonly, MPs.
Read the following short texts, which each contains a word used to talk about types of laws. In which kind of document do you think each appeared? Match each text (1-5) with its source (a-e).
a) court ruling
b) local government document
d) parliamentary speech
e) brochure for employees
Find words in Exercise 4 which match these definitions. Consult the glossary if necessary.
1. rules issued by a government agency to carry out the intent of the law;
2. law enacted by a town, city or county government.
3. draft document before it is made intolaw
4. legal device used by the European Union to establish policies at the European levelto be incorporated into the laws of the Member States.
5. formal written law enacted by a legislative body
Complete the sentences below using the words in the box.
1. The Town Council will conduct a public hearing regarding a proposed ................ concerning property tax.
2. According to the ............... concerning working time, overtime work is work
which is officially ordered in excess of 40 hours in a working week or in excess of eight hours a day.
3. Early this year, the government introduced a new ............ on electronic commerce to Parliament.
4. Anumber of changes have been made to the federal ............... governing
the seizing of computers and the gathering of electronic evidence.
5.The European Union ................. on Data Protection established legal principles aimed at protecting personal data privacy and thefree flow of data.
Describe the process of making new law in your country. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the process?
For more information on the Parliament and legislative process, go to: www.parliament.uk
For legislation around the world, go to: www.lexadin.nl/wlg/legis/legis.htm
Unit 3 THE COURT SYSTEM
The Civil Court
Duncan Ritchie, a barrister, is talking to a visiting group of young European lawyers. "Both criminal and civil courts in England and Wales primarily hear evidence and aim to determine what exactly happened in a case. Broadly speaking, the lower courts decide matters of fact and the upper court normally deal with points of law. In England, simple civil actions, for example family matters such as undefended divorce, are normally heard in either the Magistrates' Courts or the County Courts.
Judges have different titles depending on their experience, training, and level. A single stipendiary magistrate or three lay magistrates sit in the Magistrates' Court. There's no jury in a Magistrates' Court. Family cases may go on appeal from the Magistrates' Court to the County Courts. The County Court also hears complex first instance civil cases, such as contract disputes, compensation claims, consumer complaints about faulty goods or services, and bankruptcy cases. Claimants, previously referred to as plaintiffs, may seek a legal remedy for some harm or injury they have suffered. There are circuit judges and recorders who sit in the County Courts, usually without a jury. Juries are now rare m civil actions, so normally the judge considers both law and fact.
More complex civil cases, such as the administration of estates and actions for the recovery of land, are heard in the High Court of Justice, which is divided into three divisions: Family, Chancery and Queen's Bench. The court has both original, that is, first instance, and appellate jurisdiction. From the High Court cases may go on appeal to the civil division of the Court of Appeal, which can reverse or uphold a decision of the lower courts. Its decisions bind all the lower civil courts. Civil cases may leapfrog from the High Court tothe House of Lords, bypassing the Court of Appeal, when points of law of general public importance are involved. Appellants must, however, apply for leave of appeal. Decisions of the House of Lords are binding on all other courts but not necessarily on itself. The court of the House of Lords consists of twelve life peers appointed from judges and barristers. The quorum, or minimum number, of law lords for an appeal hearing is normally three, bur generally there is a sitting of five judges."
"About 95% of all criminal cases in England and Wales are tried in the Magistrates' Courts, which deal with petty crimes, that is, less serious ones. In certain circumstances the court may commit an accused person to the Crown Court for more severe punishment, either by way of a fine or imprisonment. Except in cases of homicide, children under 14 and young persons – that is, minors between 14 and 17 years of age - must always be tried summarily meaning without a jury, by a Youth Court. A Youth Court is a branch of the Magistrates' Court. Indictable offences, that is, more serious ones such as theft, assault, drug dealing, and murder, are reserved for trial in the Crown Court.
In almost all criminal cases, the State, in the name of the Crown, prosecutes a person alleged to have committed a crime. In England and Wales, a jury of twelve people decides whether the defendant is guilty of the crime she or he is charged with. The Crown Court may hear cases in circuit areas. From the Crown Court, appeal against conviction or sentence lies tothe Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal. If leave to appeal is granted by that court, cases may go on appeal to the House of Lords.
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