Module Identifier LA30110  
Module Title LEGAL SYSTEM  
Academic Year 2000/2001  
Co-ordinator Dr Huw Smith  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Mr Neil Kibble, Ms Francoise Jarvis, Dr Huw Smith  
Mutually Exclusive LA10110 , LA15710  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours Two one hour lectures per week  
  Seminars / Tutorials   4 Hours Four one hour seminars during the semester  
Assessment Exam   2 Hours   100%  
Professional Exemptions Not Required for Professional Purposes  

Module description
The course examines the structure of the legal system and also looks at the working methods of lawyers. The role of the judiciary in the interpretation of legislation and the development of case law will be analysed in detail. Dispute settlement methods will be examined by looking at the formal legal litigation process and the course will also address wider issues of access to justice, including legal aid. An outline of the distinction between law and fact will be provided because of the importance of this to legal studies generally. The structure of the court system and the role of the legal profession will be examined. A course such as this would not be complete without an introduction to the historical development of the law in England and Wales and this is provided, with particular emphasis on the growth of common law and equity. The course aims to provide the student with a thorough understanding of the environment in which the law operates and also to appreciate that law is a dynamic, constantly changing subject and not simply a rigid body of rules which are to be memorised. An understanding of such matters as judicial precedent and the methods used by the judiciary for the interpretation of statutes will greatly benefit students when faced with subjects such as criminal law or land law.


The Module aims to provide students with an understanding of the structure, historical development and workings of the legal system in England and Wales, and to enable students to assess critically legal systems.

Module objectives / Learning outcomes
Students of this module should be able to understand the development of the legal system, and be able to comment upon the characteristics which this has produced. In particular, they should have an understanding of the use and significance of judicial precedent, and the relationship between binding precedent and the system of courts. They should be able to describe and comment upon the so-called "rules" of statutory interpretation, and see how this, and the role of judges in interpreting precedents law-making. Students should understand the difficulties in ensuring access to justice, and the role of the legal profession and the jury.


1. Introduction to Law as a Subject
(i) The study of law. (ii) A brief history of the development of the legal system of England and Wales.

2. Outline of the Court System
i) The structure of the legal system in England and Wales. (ii) The civil and criminal appeal systems.

3. Law and Fact
(i) The importance of the law/fact distinction in theory and practice. (ii) Inquisitorial and adversarial systems compared.

4. Case Law and the System of Precedent
(i) The role of case law in the legal system of England and Wales. (ii) Comparison with other legal systems. (iii) The English system of precedent in operation. (iv) Precedent in the European context.

5. Legislation and Statutory Interpretation
(i) The function of legislation in legal systems. (ii) The legislative process. (iii) The rules of statutory interpretation and other aids to interpretation.

6. Access to Justice
(i) Particular difficulties in ensuring access to justice. (ii) The Legal Aid system and its reform. (iii) Alternative methods of dispute resolution.

7. The Legal Profession and the Role of the Jury in the Legal System
(i) The role of the legal profession and the judiciary in England and Wales. (ii) The role of the jury.

Reading Lists
** Recommended Text
Ingman,. (1998) The English Legal Process. 7th. Blackstone
Walker and Ward. (1998) Walker & Walker's English Legal System. 8th. Butterworths
** Reference Text
Zander. (1999) Cases & Materials on the English Legal System. 8th. Butterworths
Slapper. (1996) Sourcebook on the English Legal System. Cavendish
** Recommended Background
Honore. (1995) About Law: An Introduction. Clarendon
Atiyah. (1995) Law & Modern society. 2nd. Opus
Holland & Webb. Learning Legal Rules. 2nd. Blackstone