2011 Welsh devolution referendum
The Welsh devolution referendum on law-making powers known as the Referendum on the law-making powers of the National Assembly for Wales, was a non-binding referendum held in Wales on 3 March 2011 on whether the Welsh Assembly should have full law making powers in the twenty subject areas where it has jurisdiction. The referendum asked the question: ‘Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?’ If a majority voted'yes', the Assembly would be able to make laws, known as Acts of the Assembly, on all matters in the subject areas, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement. If a majority voted'no', the arrangements at the time of the referendum would have continued – that is, in each devolved area, the Assembly would be able to make its own laws on some matters, but not others. To make laws on any of these other matters, the Assembly would have had to ask the UK Parliament to transfer the powers to it. Regulations for the referendum, the powers to be approved or rejected by it, were provided for in the Government of Wales Act 2006.
The results of the referendum were announced on 4 March 2011. Overall, 63.49% voted'yes', 36.51% voted'no'. In 21 of 22 local authorities the vote was'yes', with the exception being Monmouthshire by a slim majority; the overall turnout was 35.2%. First Minister Carwyn Jones, welcoming the result, said: "Today an old nation came of age." In the One Wales coalition agreement on 27 June 2007 the Wales Labour Party and Plaid Cymru made the commitment "to proceed to a successful outcome of a referendum for full law-making powers under Part IV of the Government of Wales Act 2006 as soon as practicable, at or before the end of the Assembly term". The two parties agreed "in good faith to campaign for a successful outcome to such a referendum" and to set up an All-Wales Convention to prepare for such a successful outcome. On 27 October 2007 the First Minister Rhodri Morgan and the Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones appointed Sir Emyr Jones Parry, the retired Permanent Representative from Britain to the United Nations to head the convention.
Sir Emyr stated on 22 November 2007 that he would like to begin to work as soon as possible and hoped to have the report ready by 2009 at the latest. The All Wales Convention reported to the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister on 18 November 2009, it reported. An opinion poll for the convention had found that 47% would vote Yes, 37% would vote No; the report suggested that the Assembly needed to decide before June 2010 whether to trigger a referendum if the vote was to be held before the next Assembly elections. On 2 February 2010 the new First Minister Carwyn Jones, who had succeeded Rhodri Morgan on 9 December 2009, confirmed that a trigger vote would be held on 9 February on whether the Assembly should request a referendum on full law making powers; the Welsh Liberal Democrats and Welsh Conservative Party stated they did not want the referendum to be held on the same day as the 2011 Assembly elections and would abstain from voting to trigger the referendum if this date was not ruled out.
The trigger vote was held in the Assembly on Tuesday 9 February 2010, was approved unanimously across all parties, with 53 out of the 60 AMs voting for it. Under the Government of Wales Act 2006 the First Minister was required to send a letter within two weeks to the Welsh Secretary, who would have 120 days to lay a draft order for a referendum before Parliament, it was expected. On 15 June 2010 Cheryl Gillan, the new Welsh Secretary in the Conservative--Liberal Democrat coalition government at Westminster, announced that the referendum would be held between January and March 2011. Others proposed that it should be held on 5 May 2011, together with both the Assembly elections and the AV referendum, it was agreed that the referendum be held on 3 March 2011, after representations to the Welsh Secretary from the Welsh Government. The draft referendum question submitted by the Welsh Secretary to the Electoral Commission on 23 June 2010 was: At present, the National Assembly for Wales has powers to make laws for Wales on some subjects within devolved areas.
Devolved areas include health, social services, local government and environment. The Assembly can gain further powers to make laws in devolved areas with the agreement of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on a subject by subject basis. If most people vote'yes' in this referendum, the Assembly will gain powers to pass laws on all subjects in the devolved areas. If most people vote'no' the present arrangements, which transfer that law-making power bit by bit, with the agreement of Parliament each time, will continue. Do you agree that the Assembly should now have powers to pass laws on all subjects in the devolved areas without needing the agreement of Parliament first? This wording was, criticised by the Welsh Government. A revised question was released in September 2010: The National Assembly for Wales - what happens at the moment The Assembly has powers to make laws on 20 subject areas, such as agriculture, the environment, housing, local government. In each subject area, the Assembly can make laws on some matters, but not others.
To make laws on any of these other matters, the assembly must ask the UK Parliament for its agreement. The UK Parliament decides each time whether or not the assembly can make these laws; the Assembly cannot make laws on subject areas such as defence, tax or welfare benefits, whatever the result of this vote. If most voters vote'yes' - the Assembly will be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 s
The European Union is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located in Europe. It has an area of an estimated population of about 513 million; the EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency; the EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community, established by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome.
The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, West Germany. The Communities and its successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit; the latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. While no member state has left the EU or its antecedent organisations, the United Kingdom signified the intention to leave after a membership referendum in June 2016 and is negotiating its withdrawal. Covering 7.3% of the world population, the EU in 2017 generated a nominal gross domestic product of 19.670 trillion US dollars, constituting 24.6% of global nominal GDP. Additionally, all 28 EU countries have a high Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Programme. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence.
The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. Because of its global influence, the European Union has been described as an emerging superpower. During the centuries following the fall of Rome in 476, several European States viewed themselves as translatio imperii of the defunct Roman Empire: the Frankish Empire and the Holy Roman Empire were thereby attempts to resurrect Rome in the West; this political philosophy of a supra-national rule over the continent, similar to the example of the ancient Roman Empire, resulted in the early Middle Ages in the concept of a renovatio imperii, either in the forms of the Reichsidee or the religiously inspired Imperium Christianum. Medieval Christendom and the political power of the Papacy are cited as conducive to European integration and unity. In the oriental parts of the continent, the Russian Tsardom, the Empire, declared Moscow to be Third Rome and inheritor of the Eastern tradition after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
The gap between Greek East and Latin West had been widened by the political scission of the Roman Empire in the 4th century and the Great Schism of 1054. Pan-European political thought emerged during the 19th century, inspired by the liberal ideas of the French and American Revolutions after the demise of Napoléon's Empire. In the decades following the outcomes of the Congress of Vienna, ideals of European unity flourished across the continent in the writings of Wojciech Jastrzębowski, Giuseppe Mazzini or Theodore de Korwin Szymanowski; the term United States of Europe was used at that time by Victor Hugo during a speech at the International Peace Congress held in Paris in 1849: A day will come when all nations on our continent will form a European brotherhood... A day will come when we shall see... the United States of America and the United States of Europe face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas. During the interwar period, the consciousness that national markets in Europe were interdependent though confrontational, along with the observation of a larger and growing US market on the other side of the ocean, nourished the urge for the economic integration of the continent.
In 1920, advocating the creation of a European economic union, British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote that "a Free Trade Union should be established... to impose no protectionist tariffs whatever against the produce of other members of the Union." During the same decade, Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, one of the first to imagine of a modern political union of Europe, founded the Pan-Europa Movement. His ideas influenced his contemporaries, among which Prime Minister of France Aristide Briand. In 1929, the latter gave a speech in favour of a European Union before the assembly of the League of Nations, precursor of the United Nations. In a radio address in March 1943, with war still raging, Britain's leader Sir Winston Churchill spoke warmly of "restoring the true greatness of Europe" once victory had been achieved, mused on the post-war creation of a "Council of Europe" which would bring the European nations together to build peace. After World War II, European integration was seen as an antidote to the extreme nationalism which had devastated the continent.
In a speech delivered on 19
Leanne Wood is a Welsh politician who served as the leader of Plaid Cymru from March 2012 to September 2018, has served as Member of the National Assembly for Rhondda since 2016. Born in the Rhondda, she has been an Assembly Member since 2003, having represented the South Wales Central region as an Additional Member until 2016, when she was elected AM for Rhondda. Ideologically, Wood identifies as a socialist and proponent of Welsh independence, she was the first female leader of Plaid Cymru and the first party leader to be a Welsh learner rather than being fluent in the Welsh language. Wood was born in Llwynypia Hospital on the daughter of Jeff and Avril Wood, she still lives in the nearby village of Penygraig. She was educated at Tonypandy Comprehensive School, the University of Glamorgan. From 1997 to 2000, Wood worked with the Mid Glamorgan Probation Service as a probation officer. From 1998 to 2000 she was co-Chair of the National Association of Probation Officers. Wood worked as a support worker for Cwm Cynon Women's Aid from 2001 to 2002, where she has been Chair since 2001.
Wood lectured in social policy at Cardiff University from 2000, until her election to the National Assembly for Wales in 2003. Wood credits her political awakening to reading Marge Piercy's 1976 feminist classic Woman on the Edge of Time, the 1984/5 UK miners' strike, her political heroes include one of the leaders of the 1831 Merthyr Rising. After joining Plaid Cymru in 1991 aged 20, Wood was elected a Councillor for the Penygraig ward on Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council in 1995, she did not recentest the seat in 1999, she unsuccessfully stood in both the 1997 and 2001 elections to the Parliament of the United Kingdom as a candidate in the Rhondda constituency. After leaving the probation service in 2000, she was Jill Evans MEP's political researcher until 2001. Wood was Chair of Cardiff Stop the War Coalition from 2003 to 2004. Wood was elected as a Member of the National Assembly for Wales in the election of 1 May 2003, representing the South Wales Central region for Plaid, she was the party's Shadow Social Justice Minister between 2003 and 2007.
In December 2004, Wood was the first Assembly Member to be ordered out of the chamber, after referring to the Queen as "Mrs Windsor" during a debate. Lord Elis-Thomas, a fellow Plaid Cymru AM and the Presiding Officer, asked Wood to withdraw the remark on the grounds of discourtesy; when Wood refused, she was ordered to leave. She said: "I don't recognise the Queen... I don't think I was treated I don't think it was necessary. I called her that because that's her name."Wood became Plaid Cymru's sustainability spokesperson from the formation of the One Wales government, a coalition between Labour and Plaid Cymru in July 2007, remaining in the role until the end of Assembly's term in 2011. While in the role, Wood campaigned on green issues, including calling for more land to be made available for growing food. During the 2011 referendum on extending the National Assembly for Wales's law-making powers, Wood was Plaid Cymru's representative on the all-party Yes for Wales steering group, which campaigned for a'Yes' vote.
She is Chair of the PCS Cross-Party Group in the Welsh Assembly. According to the BBC, Wood's particular areas of interest are: poverty, her Plaid Cymru profile includes her commitment to working "for Wales to become a self-governing decentralist socialist republic". Upon becoming leader of Plaid in 2012, Leanne refused the party leader’s allowance to which she was entitled. Upon being re-elected in 2016 and becoming leader of the opposition, she did the same again. Between 2009 and 2011, Wood led the exposure of excesses at the Wales Audit Office, while under the control of Jeremy Colman, Auditor General for Wales. Through the Freedom of Information Act, she uncovered a severance package of £750,000 authorized by Colman, to the former chief operating officer Anthony Snow. Further scrutiny uncovered more self-authorised expenses, including training costs for Colman and Snow and the £464 cost of hiring a chauffeur-driven Mercedes for Snow to attend a meeting on how to save public money. Colman resigned in February 2010 following an internal investigation, subsequently pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.
Figures obtained by Wood under the Freedom of information Act revealed the level of pay among university vice-chancellors in Wales. Over 270 people were paid over £100,000 per annum by Welsh universities in 2009, it was noted that all Welsh university vice-chancellors received more pay than the £134,723 salary of Carwyn Jones, Wales' First Minister, some were paid more than the £197,000 entitlement of David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Information obtained by Wood showed thousands of workers in Wales to have been paid below the Minimum Wage since 2002–03; the underpayments involved over 1000 employers in Wales. The Department for Business and Skills subsequently asked HM Revenue and Customs to "press for prosecution where there is clear evidence that the employer has committed an offence", in 2010. No prosecutions had begun by June 2011. Following her election in 2003 Wood wrote a memo in which she encouraged fellow Plaid AMs to only attend events which will "further the aims" of Plaid Cymru.
The same memo encouraged Plaid’s regional AMs to base their constituency offices in Plaid target seats and told them that they had the chance to cut back on traditional constituency work and use the cash saved to promote the party. Wood was arrested on 8 Ja
National Assembly for Wales
The National Assembly for Wales is the devolved parliament of Wales, with power to make legislation, vary taxes and scrutinise the Welsh Government. The Assembly comprises AMs. Since 2011, Members are elected for five-year terms under an additional members system, in which 40 AMs represent geographical constituencies elected by the plurality system, 20 AMs represent five electoral regions using the d'Hondt method of proportional representation; the largest party in the Assembly forms the Welsh Government. The Assembly was created by the Government of Wales Act 1998, which followed a referendum in 1997; the Assembly had no powers to initiate primary legislation until limited law-making powers were gained through the Government of Wales Act 2006. Its primary law-making powers were enhanced following a Yes vote in the referendum on 3 March 2011, making it possible for it to legislate without having to consult the UK parliament or the Secretary of State for Wales in the 20 areas that are devolved.
Legislation has been introduced by the Assembly Commission which will change the name of the institution from National Assembly for Wales to the Senedd, which may be known as the Welsh Parliament. An appointed Council for Wales and Monmouthshire was established in 1949 to "ensure the government is adequately informed of the impact of government activities on the general life of the people of Wales"; the council had 27 members nominated by local authorities in Wales, the University of Wales, National Eisteddfod Council and the Welsh Tourist Board. A post of Minister of Welsh Affairs was created in 1951 and the post of Secretary of State for Wales and the Welsh Office were established in 1964 leading to the abolition of the Council for Wales; the establishment of the Welsh Office created the basis for the territorial governance of Wales. The Royal Commission on the Constitution was set up in 1969 by Harold Wilson's Labour Government to investigate the possibility of devolution for Scotland and Wales.
Its recommendations formed the basis of the 1974 White Paper Democracy and Devolution: proposals for Scotland and Wales, which proposed the creation of a Welsh Assembly. However, Welsh voters rejected the proposals by a majority of four to one in a referendum held in 1979. After the 1997 general election, the new Labour Government argued that an Assembly would be more democratically accountable than the Welsh Office. For eleven years prior to 1997 Wales had been represented in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom by a Secretary of State who did not represent a Welsh constituency at Westminster. A second referendum was held in Wales on 18 September 1997 in which voters approved the creation of the National Assembly for Wales with a total of 559,419 votes, or 50.3% of the vote. The following year the Government of Wales Act was passed by the United Kingdom parliament, establishing the Assembly. In July 2002, the Welsh Government established an independent commission, with Lord Richard as chair, to review the powers and electoral arrangements of the National Assembly to ensure that it is able to operate in the best interests of the people of Wales.
The Richard Commission reported in March 2004. It recommended that the National Assembly should have powers to legislate in certain areas, whilst others would remain the preserve of Westminster, it recommended changing the electoral system to the single transferable vote which would produce greater proportionality. In response, the British government, in its Better Governance for Wales White Paper, published on 15 June 2005, proposed a more permissive law-making system for the Welsh Assembly based on the use of Parliamentary Orders in Council. In so doing, the Government rejected many of the cross party Richard Commission's recommendations; this has attracted criticism from opposition others. The Government of Wales Act 2006 received Royal Assent on 25 July 2006, it conferred on the Assembly legislative powers similar to other devolved legislatures through the ability to pass Assembly Measures concerning matters that are devolved. Requests for further legislative powers made through legislative competence requests were subject to the veto of the Secretary of State for Wales, House of Commons or House of Lords.
The Act reformed the assembly to a parliamentary-type structure, establishing the Welsh Government as an entity separate from, but accountable to the National Assembly. It enables the Assembly to legislate within its devolved fields; the Act reforms the Assembly's electoral system. It prevents individuals from standing as candidates in regional seats; this aspect of the act was subject to a great deal of criticism, most notably from the Electoral Commission. The Act was criticised. Plaid Cymru, the Official Opposition in the National Assembly from 1999–2007, attacked it for not delivering a fully-fledged parliament. Many commentators have criticised the Labour Party's partisan attempt to alter the electoral system. By preventing regional Assembly Members from standing in constituency seats the party has been accused of changing the rules to protect constituency representatives. Labour had 29 members in the Assembly at the time; the changes to the Assembly's powers were commenced on 4 May 2007, after the election.
Following a referendum on 3 March 2011, the Welsh Assembly gained direct law making powers, without the need to consult Westminster. The Conservative-Liberal coalition government created the Commission on Devolution in Wales
Politics of Wales
Politics in Wales forms a distinctive polity in the wider politics of the United Kingdom, with Wales as one of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. Constitutionally, the United Kingdom is de jure a unitary state with one sovereign parliament and government. However, under a system of devolution adopted in the late 1990s three of the four countries of the United Kingdom, Wales and Northern Ireland, voted for limited self-government, subject to the ability of the UK Parliament in Westminster, nominally at will, to amend, broaden or abolish the national governmental systems; as such the National Assembly for Wales is not de jure sovereign. Executive power in the United Kingdom is vested in the Queen-in-Council, while legislative power is vested in the Queen-in-Parliament; the Government of Wales Act 1998 established devolution in Wales, certain executive and legislative powers have been constitutionally delegated to the National Assembly for Wales. The scope of these powers was further widened by the Government of Wales Act 2006.
Since 1999 most areas of domestic policy are decided within Wales via the National Assembly and the Welsh Government. Judicially, Wales remains within the jurisdiction of Wales. In 2007 the National Assembly gained the power to enact Wales-specific Measures, following the Welsh devolution referendum, 2011, the National Assembly was given the power to create Acts. Wales, together with Cheshire, used to come under the jurisdiction of the Court of Great Session, therefore was not within the English circuit court system, yet it has not been its own distinct jurisdiction since the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, at which point Welsh Law was replaced by English Law. Before 1998, there was no separate government in Wales. Executive authority rested in the hands of the HM Government, with substantial authority within the Welsh Office since 1965. Legislative power rested within the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Judicial power has always been with the Courts of England and Wales, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
After the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, Wales was treated in legal terms as part of England. The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 stated that all laws applying to England would be applicable to Wales, unless the body of the law explicitly stated otherwise. However, during the latter part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century the notion of a distinctive Welsh polity gained credence. In 1881 the Welsh Sunday Closing Act was passed, the first such legislation concerned with Wales; the Central Welsh Board was established in 1896 to inspect the grammar schools set up under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act 1889, a separate Welsh Department of the Board of Education was formed in 1907. The Agricultural Council for Wales was set up in 1912, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had its own Welsh Office from 1919. Despite the failure of popular political movements such as Cymru Fydd, a number of institutions, such as the National Eisteddfod, the University of Wales, the National Library of Wales and the Welsh Guards were created.
The campaign for disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Wales, achieved by the passage of the Welsh Church Act 1914, was significant in the development of Welsh political consciousness. Without a popular base, the issue of home rule did not feature as an issue in subsequent General Elections and was eclipsed by the depression. By August 1925 unemployment in Wales rose to 28.5%, in contrast to the economic boom in the early 1920s, rendering constitutional debate an exotic subject. In the same year Plaid Cymru was formed with the goal of securing a Welsh-speaking Wales. Following the Second World War the Labour Government of Clement Attlee established the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire, an unelected assembly of 27 with the brief of advising the UK government on matters of Welsh interest. By that time, most UK government departments had set up their own offices in Wales; the Labour Party had partly reappraised its view to devolution, establishing in 1947 the Welsh Regional Council of Labour from the constituent parts of the party in Wales and as part of a move to plan the economy on an all-Wales basis.
However, resistance from other elements of the party meant that the machinery of government was not reformed until much later. The post of Minister of Welsh Affairs was first established in 1951, but was at first held by the UK Home Secretary. Further incremental changes took place, including the establishment of a Digest of Welsh Statistics in 1954, the designation of Cardiff as Wales's capital city in 1955. However, further reforms were catalysed as a result of the controversy surrounding the flooding of Capel Celyn in 1956. Despite unanimous Welsh political opposition the scheme had been approved, a fact that seemed to underline Plaid Cymru's argument that the Welsh national community was powerless. Welsh nationalism experienced a modest increase in support, with Plaid Cymru's share of the vote increasing from 0.3% in 1951 to 5.2% by 1959 throughout Wales. In 1964 the incoming Labour Government of Harold Wilson created the Welsh Office under a Secretary of State for Wales, with its powers augmented to include health and education in 1968, 1969 and 1970 respectively.
The creation of administration devolution defined the territorial governance of modern Wales. Labour's incremental embrace of a distinctive Welsh polity was arguably catalysed in 1966 when
Secretary of State for Wales
Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Wales is the principal minister of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom with responsibilities for Wales. He or she is the head of the Wales Office, he or she is responsible for ensuring Welsh interests are taken into account by Her Majesty's Government, representing the government within Wales and overseeing the passing of legislation, only for Wales. The current Secretary of State for Wales is Alun Cairns, following his appointment in 2016. In the first half of the 20th century, a number of politicians had supported the creation of the post of Secretary of State for Wales as a step towards Home Rule for Wales. A post of Minister of Welsh Affairs was created in 1951 under the Home Secretary and was upgraded to Minister of State level in 1954; the Labour Party proposed the creation of a Welsh Office run by a Secretary of State for Wales in their manifesto for the 1959 general election. When they came to power in 1964 this was soon put into effect.
The post of Secretary of State for Wales came into existence on 17 October 1964. The position entailed responsibility for Wales, expenditure on certain public services was delegated from Westminster. In April 1965 administration of Welsh affairs, divided between a number of government departments, was united in a newly created Welsh Office with the Secretary of State for Wales at its head, the Welsh Secretary became responsible for education and training, health and industry, environment and agriculture within Wales. During the 1980s and 1990s, as the number of Conservative MPs for Welsh constituencies dwindled to zero, the office fell into disrepute. Nicholas Edwards, MP for Pembrokeshire, held the post for eight years. On his departure, the government ceased to look within Wales for the Secretary of State, the post was used as a way of getting junior high-fliers into the Cabinet. John Redwood in particular caused embarrassment when he publicly demonstrated his inability to sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau", the Welsh national anthem, at a conference.
The introduction of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government, after the devolution referendum of 1997, was the beginning of a new era. On 1 July 1999 the majority of the functions of the Welsh Office transferred to the new assembly; the Welsh Office was disbanded, but the post of Secretary of State for Wales was retained, as the head of the newly created Wales Office. Since 1999 there have been calls for the office of Welsh Secretary to be scrapped or merged with the posts of Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to reflect the lesser powers of the role since devolution. Colour key Conservative National Liberal Labour Note First Minister for Wales Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Secretary of State for Scotland Labour Party in Wales – covers the history of the post Hain promoted in Brown's cabinet, BBC News Online, 28 June 2007 Hain takes work and pensions job, BBC News Online, 28 June 2007
English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures. England's most authoritative law is statutory legislation, which comprises Acts of Parliament, regulations and by-laws. In the absence of any statutory law, the common law with its principle of stare decisis forms the residual source of law, based on judicial decisions and usage. Common law is made by sitting judges who apply both statutory law and established principles which are derived from the reasoning from earlier decisions. Equity is the other historic source of judge-made law. Common law can be repealed by Parliament. Not being a civil law system, English law has no comprehensive codification. However, most of its criminal law has been codified from its common law origins, in the interests both of certainty and of ease of prosecution. For the time being, murder remains a common law crime rather than a statutory offence. Although Scotland and Northern Ireland form part of the United Kingdom and share Westminster as a primary legislature, they have separate legal systems outside of English Law.
International treaties such as the European Union's Treaty of Rome or the Hague-Visby Rules have effect in English law only when adopted and ratified by Act of Parliament. Adopted treaties may be subsequently denounced by executive action.. Unless the denouncement or withdraw would affect rights enacted by parliament. In this case executive action cannot be used due to the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty; this principle was established in the case of Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union in 2017. Criminal law is the law of punishment whereby the Crown prosecutes the accused. Civil law is concerned with tort, families, companies and so on. Civil law courts operate to provide a party who has an enforceable claim with a remedy such as damages or a declaration. In this context, civil law is the system of codified law, prevalent in Europe. Civil law is founded on the ideas of Roman Law. By contrast, English law is the archetypal common law jurisdiction, built upon case law.
In this context, common law means the judge-made law of the King's Bench. Equity is concerned with trusts and equitable remedies. Equity operates in accordance with the principles known as the "maxims of equity"; the reforming Judicature Acts of the 1880s amalgamated the courts into one Supreme Court of Judicature, directed to administer both law and equity. The neo-gothic Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, were built shortly afterwards to celebrate these reforms. Public Law is the law governing relationships between the state. Private law encompasses relationships between other private entities. A remedy is "the means given by law for the recovery of a right, or of compensation for its infringement". Most remedies are available only from the court. Most civil actions claiming damages in the High Court were commenced by obtaining a writ issued in the Queen's name. After 1979, writs have required the parties to appear, writs are no longer issued in the name of the Crown. Now, after the Woolf Reforms of 1999 all civil actions other than those connected with insolvency, are commenced by the completion of a Claim Form as opposed to a Writ, Originating Application, or Summons.
In England, there is a hierarchy of sources, as follows: Legislation The case law rules of common law and equity, derived from precedent decisions Parliamentary conventions General Customs Books of authority Primary legislation in the UK may take the following forms: Acts of Parliament Acts of the Scottish Parliament Acts and Measures of the National Assembly for Wales Statutory Rules of the Northern Ireland AssemblyOrders in Council are a sui generis category of legislation. Secondary legislation in England includes: Statutory Instruments and Ministerial Orders Bye-laws of metropolitan boroughs, county councils, town councilsStatutes are cited in this fashion: "Short Title Year", e.g. Theft Act 1968; this became the usual way to refer to Acts from 1840 onwards. For example, the Pleading in English Act 1362 was referred to as 36 Edw. III c. 15, meaning "36th year of the reign of Edward III, chapter 15".. Common law is a term with historical origins in the legal system of England, it denotes, in the first place, the judge-made law that developed from the early Middle Ages as described in a work published at the end of the 19th century, The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I, in which Pollock and Maitland expanded the work of Coke and Blackstone.
The law developed in England's Court of Common Pleas and other common law courts, which became the law of the colonies settled under the crown of England or of the United Kingdom, in North America and elsewhere.