The supreme law maker

Introduction

I will set about answering the question by firstly describing what law is. I will also briefly mention the law making bodies and classifications of law.

Law Making

To be able to answer the question, I will need to describe how laws are made. There are three potential aspects to the construction of a law.

  1. Parliament

Parliament is considered the supreme law maker in the United Kingdom. The construction of a law is dealt with by the House of Commons and House of Lords. A law passed in Parliament is referred to as either an Act, or less commonly a Statue. Where Parliament does not have the relevant knowledge or time, then laws are passed by other bodies. This process is called subordinate legislation.

  1. Courts

Courts are the interaction between a person and the law. They listen to the evidence of a case and then interpret how this complies with the wording of the law. When they rule a decision, their precedent becomes Common Law, which is then followed by other courts. If the wording of law is not clear, there is not time or sufficient resources for the court to ask for clarification from Parliament. Therefore, the court has to interpret the meaning of the law. This ruling creates statutory interpretation.

  1. Other Sources

Along with bodies based in the United Kingdom, the European Union (EU), of which membership was granted in 1973, also has law making powers over the constitution. Membership requires the United Kingdom to conform to the European Union and in addition to the European Convention for Human Rights (ECHR).

Classification

Laws are classified under two headings and then into two subcategories.

  1. Criminal And Civil

Criminal and Civil classification forms the basis of law in the United Kingdom and these classifications determines the resolution of the dispute.

  1. Public And Private

Public and Private law are a different type of classification and constitute laws which govern Parliament and society.

Part B

Law is “a set of rules created by the state that forms a framework to ensure a peaceful society. If the rules are broken they can be enforced by mechanisms created by the state and sanctions imposed.” There are three main sources of law in the United Kingdom (UK) that will be looked at, these being Parliament, judicial precedence in court and the European Union (EU). Law is also classified into two categories and four subheadings, being criminal, civil, public and private.

UK Parliament is considered the supreme law maker. It has the ability to make any law deemed suitable and conversely, can also remove laws. An Act of Parliament begins as a bill. This proposal is then debated and discussed within the separate Houses of Parliament and amendments made. Once both Houses agree on the text of a bill, it then goes for royal assent, after which it becomes an Act. The Parliament Act of 1949 made changes to the process giving the House of Commons, who are democratically elected, precedence over the House of Lords if they do not agree on a bill. Normally a public bill is the beginnings of an Act, however a Private Member's bill may provide the impetus for a new Public bill, such as the case of the Abortion Act 1967. Where Parliament lacks technical or local knowledge or time, it grants power to a person or body to make laws. These laws are known as subordinate legislation, examples of which are by-laws relating to Local Authorities.

Courts of law use an Act as a mechanism of the state to ensure a peaceful society and to impose sanctions. When a case goes to court, they are either dealing with a civil or criminal case. In a criminal case, the court has to rule beyond reasonable doubt for a verdict, in a civil case it is proven on the balance of probabilities. When a court comes to a decision, the judge interprets how the law applies to the facts of the case and this judgement sets a judicial precedent. If there are some doubts as to the wording of an Act, then it is up to the judge to determine its intentions. This was demonstrated in the case of Adler vs George [1964] when the interpretation of “in the vicinity” was questioned. Because of this ruling of statutory interpretation, the meaning of “in the vicinity” is now defined and this decision has formed part of common law.

The UK became a member of the EU in 1973. The EU is a source of law in such matters as consumer protection, employment protection, and trade and company law. When the EU passes a law, it is regarded as supreme and UK law cannot conflict. EU passes regulations or directives. Regulations are effective immediately as law in the UK. Directives are issued instructions for the UK to create laws in specific areas. The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is a separate source of law which is there for the protection of individual rights. Once a UK citizen has exhausted all possible remedies in the UK, they can apply to the European Court of Human Rights. The Human Rights Act 1998 was created to ensure that all legislation is created and read in a compatible way to the ECHR.

Laws are classified as either criminal or civil, or, public or private. Criminal law is there to protect society and administer punishment for this proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Criminal cases are brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on behalf of the state. A criminal case is read as defendant