The Legal System. Professions, Higher Courts and Punishment

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2000

5 Pages, Grade: 2 (B)

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Report on Legal System II.

I. Legal Professions and Higher Courts:

The legal profession consists of two elements, barristers and solicitors, and the two elements must be clearly divided. Solicitors, who are sometimes called the junior branch, are much more numerous. When a person needs the assistens of the law, he must go to a solicitor. He can speak before magistrates court in the name of his client, but if the case is more serious or difficult, or has to be heard in a higher court a client´s solicitor engages a barrister to whom he hands over the task of representing the client in the court. In order to become a solicitor a person must spend some time working in the office of an already established firm of solicitors, and successfully pass the examinations of the Law Society. Many solicitors first attend a university, but some do not. To be a barrister a man must be a member of one of the four Inns of Court and pass the Bar examination. He must also keep twelve terms as a student at his Inn. Barristers, called the senior branch of the legal profession must attend on six evenings during each term for the purpose of eating dinner in the Hall. To begin a professional career he must join the "chambres" of an established barrister. Traditionally, only they have been able to reach the top of the profession, a High Court judgeship. A successful barrister may be appointed a Queen´s Counsel, known within the profession as a "taking silk". The House of Commons includes about 100 barristers among his members. There is no judicial profession in England. All judges are appointed by the Lord Chancellor, who is a member of Cabinet, from among experienced barristers. Some become circuit judges. Above these are about fifty High Court judges, who deal with more important or difficult cases around the country, and about thirty other judges, all of whom belong to one of the divisions of the High Court of Justice.

The High Court of Justice have several Divisions:

- The Chancery Division consists of the Lord Chancellor and ten judges, dealing with company law, bankruptcy and the administration of estates of those who have died.
- The Family Division consists of a president and 17 judges. They deal with family law, divorce, custody of children, etc.
- The Queen´s Bench Division consists of the Lord Chief Justice and about 39 other judges.

All High Court judges belong to it, devides its time between civil work at London, the Central Criminal Court (called the Old Baily) where many of the most famous criminal cases have been heard, and work in the provincial Crown Court. Like Parliament, Crown Courts are adversarial, contests between two oppositing parties. Neither the prosecution nor defence counsel is concerned to establish the whole truth about the accused person. Most types of cases which a Crown Court deals with, can be tried at quarter sessions or assizes. Quarter Sessions are arranged in every chief town of a county or in some boroughs four to five times per year. Assizes take place in county capitals or other important centres four or more times a year. In Crown Courts the verdict is reached by a Jury of twelve citizens randomly selected from the local electoral rolls. An appeal againster decision of Crown Court may be taken to the Court of Appeal, but it´s seldom successful. The highest court in England is the House of Lords, called the Upper House or the second chamber. It is the oldest part of the Parliament. It considers a case referred from the Court of Appeal where a point of general public importance seems to be at stake. The Lords are represented by five or more of the nine Law Lords.

II. Punishment and Prisons:

The age of criminal responsibility is ten. Children between the ages of ten and seventeen could be taken into local authority care or some could be required to do community service, which a juvenile court decides. One of the reasons why young offenders are punished so weak is, that the prisons are overcrowded and the place is needed for "heavy guys". The sentence passed on an adult offender is decided by the judge or magistrate, within the limits for the offence set down by Act of Parliament or an decision, a judge made in the past, not according to the statutes. In the statutes you can find the maximum penalty for a crime. Contrary to the magistrates´ courts, where the maximum fine is about 2000 pounds and the maximum imprisonment is up to six month, a Crown Court can send a offender to prison for his whole life. This maximum penalty is called life imprisonment and can vacillate between 12 and 30 years.

The death penalty was suspended in 1965 and abolished in 1969. It has still been in force six years later.

Imprisonment is used more in Britain than somewhere else in Europe in spite of having similar crime rates than neighbouring European countries. Nearly 98 per 100000 people of population had a detention rate ahead of Turkey with 96 per 100000. The effects are that the 19th century buildings are very overcrowded and the prison population in England and Wales increases steadly. The living conditions in this old prisons are very bad, for example the lacking of adequate lavatory facilities. As a result of such poor conditions and overcrowding the prison staff, as well as the prisoners, suffer from low morale. The prison staff treats the prisoners barbarous and the prisoners get squalid. A effect of this treatment is the high and still rising suicide rate. There are opportunities for prisoners to learn trades and to attend classes on many subjects.

III. The Police:

The police are all local forces, employed and paid by the counties or country boroughs. In Great Britain there are 63 separate police forces, each responsible for a particular area. All together there are about 100000 police officers in Great Britain. Due to the great increase of crimes, and many of them get more and more complex, a coordination between the forces gets also more and more important. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID), also called Scotland Yard is the main department.

About 25 years ago, police was a source of great pride. The "bobby on the beat", who was unarmed, had a respected and friendly relationship with public. They didn´t, and some even nowadays don´t carry weapons.

Nowadays the police is accused of excessive use of violence to maintain public order between the 1980s. The fabrication of evidence and the extortion of forced confessions and corrupt practieses concern the successful solution to crimes. Many policemen resign from the force on account of stress. Police authorities have very limited power. They can appoint a Chief Constable and they just may ask questions and advice concerning police work. A Crown Court is responsible for all operational and adminisrtative decisions. They cannot give direct instructions. Police take action against strikes and demonstrations against goverment policy. Policemen are often in a very dangerous position and often they are not armed. To climb up the career ladder is not very easy and the lower ranks are paid quite bad in spite of the growing danger nowadays.


1. Britain in close-up, David McDowall, Longman Group UK Limited, 1994
2. Life in Modern Britain, Peter Bromhead, Langenscheidt-Longman, 1971
3. Hueber Hochschulreihe 3 (Britain.a short indroduction for students of English), John Bourke, Max Hueber Verlag München, 1975
4. Britain Today, Richard Musman, Longman Background Books, London 1977

Report on Legal System II.

Legal System II.

1. Legal Professions and Higher Courts
1.1 Solicitors
1.2 Barristers
1.3 Lord Chancellor
1.4 Different Divisions:
1.4.1 Chancery Division
1.4.2 Family Division
1.4.3 Queen´s Bench Division
1.5 Crown Courts
1.6 Court of Appeal

2. Punishment and Prisons
2.1 Juvenile crime
2.2 Fines and Imprisonment
2.3 Death Penalty
2.4 Overcrowded prisons
2.5 Bad treatment of prisoners

3. The Police
3.1 Organisation of the police apparatus
3.2 Police in former times
3.3 Police in nowadays
3.4 Thanksless job

5 of 5 pages


The Legal System. Professions, Higher Courts and Punishment
2 (B)
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ISBN (eBook)
File size
362 KB
Quote paper
Christina Gebhard (Author), 2000, The Legal System. Professions, Higher Courts and Punishment, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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