Tony Blair formed the Blair ministry in May 1997 after being invited by Queen Elizabeth II to form a new government following the resignation of the previous Prime Minister, John Major of the Conservative Party, as a result of the Labour Party's landslide victory at the 1997 general election. He would serve as the Prime Minister for three successive ministries and parliamentary terms until his resignation on 27 June 2007, his Cabinet was reshuffled for each new parliament along with a few minor changes during each term. After eighteen years in opposition, Labour ousted the Conservatives at the May 1997 election with a 179-seat majority; the Prime Minister Tony Blair, who turned 44 years old days after leading Labour to victory, was the youngest Prime Minister of the twentieth century. Blair wiped away memories of the troubled Labour governments led by Harold Wilson and James Callaghan in the 1960s and 70's as the economic recovery continued and unemployment continued to fall. While other developed countries, notably Japan, were hit by a financial crisis during Blair's first term in office, the British economy remained strong.
In September 2000, protests against fuel prices intensified across the country and the new Leader of the Conservative Party William Hague exploited the situation by pointing out to voters just how much fuel prices had risen under Labour. This sparked a brief Conservative lead in the opinion polls – the first time in eight years – but once the protests and consequent fuel shortages ended, Labour led the opinion polls once more. Blair was so confident of re-election that he called a general election for 3 May, but this was postponed until 7 June due to the foot and mouth crisis; this led to a brief crisis in the agricultural and tourism industries, but did little to shake a still-strong economy and the electorate responded by re-electing Blair with an only slightly-reduced majority. Following the financial crisis in Japan at the end of the 1990s, there was a brief recession in other parts of the developed world including Germany and France in the early-2000s, but once again, the UK avoided recession and continued to enjoy a strong economy and low unemployment.
By the time the next general election was on the horizon, Labour were looking well positioned for a record third successive term in government. Unemployment remained low and the economy remained strong with more than a decade of unbroken growth, education and healthcare had changed for the better as a result of expenditure by Labour. However, the Labour government had attracted controversy by sending British troops to fight in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, more so when it joined the American-led invasion of Iraq eighteen months – when it emerged that the ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction were never found, serious questions were raised about the issue of going to war. Although the dictatorship regimes in both of these countries were swiftly ended by British and American troops, the remaining British forces were not withdrawn from Iraq until 2009 and not from Afghanistan until 2014. Soon after the controversial invasion of Iraq in 2003, Labour support in the opinion polls fell and the Conservatives drew level with them in at least one poll during 2003.
However, this did little to end speculation about the future of their unpopular leader Iain Duncan Smith and in October 2003, he lost a vote of no confidence and was replaced by Michael Howard, who stood unopposed for the leadership role and took control without a leadership contest. The election on 5 May 2005 saw Labour win a historic third successive term in power, though their majority now stood at 66 seats – compared to 167 four years earlier – and they failed to gain any new seats. Blair had declared that the new term in parliament would be his last; these are the cabinets under Prime Minister Tony Blair. The first Blair ministry lasted from May 1997 to June 2001. July 1998 – Margaret Beckett becomes Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons. Margaret Jay becomes Lord Privy Leader of the House of Lords and Minister for Women. Stephen Byers becomes Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Ann Taylor becomes Chief Whip, now a cabinet position. Jack Cunningham becomes Cabinet Office Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Nick Brown becomes Agriculture Minister. Alistair Darling becomes Social Security Secretary. Peter Mandelson enters the cabinet as Industry Secretary. John Reid becomes Transport Minister, no longer a cabinet position. Ivor Richard, Harriet Harman, David Clark and Gavin Strang leave the cabinet; the President of the Board of Trade is no longer a title used by the Trade Secretary. October 1998 – Alun Michael becomes Welsh Secretary. Ron Davies leaves the Cabinet. December 1998 – Peter Mandelson is dismissed from the cabinet over a secret home loan he received from Geoffrey Robinson. Stephen Byers becomes Industry Secretary. Alan Milburn becomes Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 1999 – John Reid becomes Scottish Secretary. Donald Dewar leaves the cabinet. July 1999 – Paul Murphy becomes Welsh Secretary. Alun Michael leaves the cabinet. October 1999 – Andrew Smith becomes Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Geoff Hoon becomes Defence Secretary. Alan Milburn becomes Health Secretary. Peter Mandelson returns to the cabinet as Northern Ireland Secretary.
Mo Mowlam becomes Cabinet Office Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Gareth Williams becomes Attorney General. John Morris, George Robertson, Jack Cunningham and Frank Dobson leave the cabinet. January 2001 – Peter Mandelson is dismissed as Northern Ireland
West Midlands (region)
The West Midlands is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It covers the western half of the area traditionally known as the Midlands, it contains Birmingham and the larger West Midlands conurbation, the third most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Coventry is located within the West Midlands county, but is separated from the conurbation to the west by several miles of green belt; the region contains 6 shire counties which stretch from the Welsh Border to the East Midlands. The region is geographically diverse, from the urban central areas of the conurbation to the rural western counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire which border Wales; the longest river in the UK, the River Severn, traverses the region southeastwards, flowing through the county towns of Shrewsbury and Worcester, the Ironbridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Staffordshire is home to the industrialised Potteries conurbation, including the city of Stoke-on-Trent, the Staffordshire Moorlands area, which borders the southeastern Peak District National Park near Leek.
The region encompasses five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Wye Valley, Shropshire Hills, Cannock Chase, Malvern Hills, parts of the Cotswolds. Warwickshire is home to the towns of Stratford upon Avon, birthplace of writer William Shakespeare, the birthplace of Rugby football and Nuneaton, birthplace to author George Eliot; the official region contains the ceremonial counties of Herefordshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire. There is some confusion in the use of the term "West Midlands", as the name is used for the much smaller West Midlands county and conurbation, in the central belt of the Midlands and on the eastern side of the West Midlands Region, it is still used by various organisations within that area, such as West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire Service. The highest point in the region is Black Mountain, at 703 metres in west Herefordshire on the border with Powys, Wales; the region contains five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including the Shropshire Hills, Malvern Hills and Cannock Chase, parts of the Wye Valley and Cotswolds.
The Peak District national park stretches into the northern corner of Staffordshire. Served by many lines in the urban areas such as the West Coast Main Line and branches; the Welsh Marches Line and the Cotswold Line transect the region as well as the Cross Country Route and Chiltern Line. There are plans to reopen the Honeybourne Line. Numerous notable roads pass with most converging around the central conurbation; the M5, which connects South West England to the region, passes through Worcestershire, near to Worcester, through the West Midlands county, past West Bromwich, with its northern terminus at its junction with the M6 just south of Walsall. The M6, which has its southern terminus just outside the southeast of the region at its junction with the M1, which connects the region to North West England, passes Rugby and Nuneaton in Warwickshire and Birmingham, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire; the M6 toll provides an alternative route to the M6 between Coleshill and Cannock, passing north of Sutton Coldfield and just south of Lichfield.
The M40 connects the region through South East England to London, with its northern terminus at its junction with the M42. The M42 connects the M5 at Bromsgrove, passing around the south and east of Birmingham, joining the M40 and M6, passing Solihull and Castle Bromwich, to Tamworth, northeast of Birmingham; the M50 connects the M5 from near Tewkesbury to Ross-on-Wye in the southwest. The M54 connects Wellington in the west, to the M6 near Cannock; the A5 road traverses the region northwest-southeast, passing through Shrewsbury, Cannock and Nuneaton. The longest elevated road viaduct in the UK is the 3 miles section from Gravelly Hill to Castle Bromwich on the M6, opened on 24 May 1972; the section of the A45 in Coventry from Willenhall to Allesley in 1939 was one of the UK's first large planned road schemes. Princes Square in Wolverhampton had Britain's first automatic traffic lights on 5 November 1927. On 13 January 2012, 34-year-old Ben Westwood of Wednesfield, was caught by the police, when speeding at 180 mph, in an Audi RS5 with a Lamborghini engine, from Wolverhampton up to Stafford on the M6, back again.
He was travelling so fast that he was outpacing the Central Counties Air Operations Unit Eurocopter helicopter. He and the vehicle had been in fifteen smash and grab raids and he was jailed for nine years at Wolverhampton Crown Court in August 2012; as part of the transport planning system, the Regional Assembly is under statutory requirement to produce a regional transport strategy to provide long term planning for transport in the region. This involves region wide transport schemes such as those carried out by Highways England and Network Rail. Within the region, the local transport authorities carry out transport planning through the use of a local transport plan which outlines their strategies and implementation programme; the most recent LTP is that for the period 2006–11. In the West Midlands region, the following transport authorities have published their LTP online: Herefordshire, Shropshire U. A. Staffordshire and Wrekin U. A. Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire; the transport authority of Stoke-on-Trent U.
A. publishes a joint local transport plan in partnership with
Monarchy of the United Kingdom
The monarchy of the United Kingdom referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom, its dependencies and its overseas territories. The current monarch and head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne in 1952; the monarch and their immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties. As the monarchy is constitutional, the monarch is limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours and appointing the Prime Minister; the monarch is commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. Though the ultimate executive authority over the government is still formally by and through the monarch's royal prerogative, these powers may only be used according to laws enacted in Parliament and, in practice, within the constraints of convention and precedent; the British monarchy traces its origins from the petty kingdoms of early medieval Scotland and Anglo-Saxon England, which consolidated into the kingdoms of England and Scotland by the 10th century.
England was conquered by the Normans in 1066, after which Wales too came under control of Anglo-Normans. The process was completed in the 13th century when the Principality of Wales became a client state of the English kingdom. Meanwhile, Magna Carta began a process of reducing the English monarch's political powers. From 1603, the English and Scottish kingdoms were ruled by a single sovereign. From 1649 to 1660, the tradition of monarchy was broken by the republican Commonwealth of England, which followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms; the Act of Settlement 1701 excluded Roman Catholics, or those who married them, from succession to the English throne. In 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged to create the Kingdom of Great Britain, in 1801, the Kingdom of Ireland joined to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the British monarch was the nominal head of the vast British Empire, which covered a quarter of the world's surface at its greatest extent in 1921. In the early 1920s the Balfour Declaration recognised the evolution of the Dominions of the Empire into separate, self-governing countries within a Commonwealth of Nations.
After the Second World War, the vast majority of British colonies and territories became independent bringing the Empire to an end. George VI and his successor, Elizabeth II, adopted the title Head of the Commonwealth as a symbol of the free association of its independent member states; the United Kingdom and fifteen other independent sovereign states that share the same person as their monarch are called Commonwealth realms. Although the monarch is shared, each country is sovereign and independent of the others, the monarch has a different and official national title and style for each realm. In the uncodified Constitution of the United Kingdom, the monarch is the head of state; the Queen's image is used to signify British sovereignty and government authority—her profile, for instance, appearing on currency, her portrait in government buildings. The sovereign is further both mentioned in and the subject of songs, loyal toasts, salutes. "God Save the Queen" is the British national anthem. Oaths of allegiance are made to her lawful successors.
The monarch takes little direct part in government. The decisions to exercise sovereign powers are delegated from the monarch, either by statute or by convention, to ministers or officers of the Crown, or other public bodies, exclusive of the monarch personally, thus the acts of state done in the name of the Crown, such as Crown Appointments if performed by the monarch, such as the Queen's Speech and the State Opening of Parliament, depend upon decisions made elsewhere: Legislative power is exercised by the Queen-in-Parliament, by and with the advice and consent of Parliament, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Executive power is exercised by Her Majesty's Government, which comprises ministers the prime minister and the Cabinet, technically a committee of the Privy Council, they have the direction of the Armed Forces of the Crown, the Civil Service and other Crown Servants such as the Diplomatic and Secret Services. Judicial power is vested in the various judiciaries of the United Kingdom, who by constitution and statute have judicial independence of the Government.
The Church of England, of which the monarch is the head, has its own legislative and executive structures. Powers independent of government are granted to other public bodies by statute or Statutory Instrument such as an Order in Council, Royal Commission or otherwise; the sovereign's role as a constitutional monarch is limited to non-partisan functions, such as granting honours. This role has been recognised since the 19th century; the constitutional writer Walter Bagehot identified the monarchy in 1867 as the "dignified part" rather than the "efficient part" of government. Whenever necessary, the monarch is responsible for appointing a new prime minister. In accordance with unwritten constitutional conventions, the sovereign must appoint an individual who commands the support of the House of Commons the leader of the party or coalition that has a majority in that House; the prime minister takes office by attending the monarch in private audience, after "kissing hands" that appointment is effective without any other f
North East England
North East England is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It covers Northumberland, County Durham and Wear, the area of the former county of Cleveland in North Yorkshire; the region is home to three large conurbations: Teesside and Tyneside, the last of, the largest of the three and the eighth most populous conurbation in the United Kingdom. There are three cities in the region: Newcastle upon Tyne, the largest, with a population of just under 280,000. Other large towns include Darlington, Hartlepool, South Shields, Stockton-on-Tees and Washington; the region is hilly and sparsely populated in the North and West, urban and arable in the East and South. The highest point in the region is The Cheviot, in the Cheviot Hills, at 815 metres; the region contains the urban centres of Tyneside and Teesside, is noted for the rich natural beauty of its coastline, Northumberland National Park, the section of the Pennines that includes Teesdale and Weardale.
The regions historic importance is displayed by Northumberland's ancient castles, the two World Heritage Sites of Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle, Hadrian's Wall one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. In fact, Roman archaeology can be found across the region and a special exhibition based around the Roman Fort of Segedunum at Wallsend and the other forts along Hadrian's Wall are complemented by the numerous artifacts that are displayed in the Great North Museum Hancock in Newcastle. St. Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland and St. Pauls in Jarrow hold significant historical value and have a joint bid to become a World Heritage Site; the area has a strong religious past, as can be seen in works such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The work of the 7th-century Cuthbert and Hilda of Whitby were hugely influential in the early church, are still venerated by some today; these saints are associated with the monasteries on the island of Lindisfarne, Wearmouth – Jarrow, the Abbey at Whitby, though they are associated with many other religious sites in the region.
Bede is regarded as the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholar. He worked at the monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow, translating some forty books on all areas of knowledge, including nature, astronomy and theological matters such as the lives of the saints, his best known work is "The Ecclesiastical History of the English People". One of the most famous pieces of art and literature created in the region is the Lindisfarne Gospels, are thought to be the work of a monk named Eadfrith, who became Bishop of Lindisfarne in 698; this body of work is thought to have been created in honour of Cuthbert, around 710–720. On 6 June 793 the Vikings arrived on the shores of north-east England with a raiding party from Norway who attacked the monastic settlement on Lindisfarne; the monks fled or were slaughtered, Bishop Higbald sought refuge on the mainland. A chronicler recorded: "On the 8th June, the harrying of the heathen miserably destroyed God's church by rapine and slaughter." There were three hundred years of Viking raids and settlement until William the Conqueror defeated King Harold at Hastings in 1066.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle notes the change from raiding to settlement when it records that in 876 the Vikings "Shared out the land of the Northumbrians and they proceeded to plough and support themselves" The Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria extended from the Scottish borders at the Firth of Forth to the north, to the south of York, its capital, down to the Humber. The last independent Northumbrian king from 947–8 was Eric Bloodaxe, who died at the Battle of Stainmore, Westmorland, in 954. After Eric Bloodaxe's death, all England was ruled by the grandson of Alfred the Great. Today the Viking legacy can still be found in the language and place names of north-east England and in the DNA of its people; the name Newcastle comes from the castle built shortly after the conquest in 1080 by Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror's eldest son. North East England has an oceanic climate with narrower temperature ranges than the south of England. Summers and winters are mild rather than hot or cold, due to the strong maritime influence of the North Atlantic Current of the Gulf Stream.
The Met Office operates several weather stations in the region and are able they show the regional variations in temperature and its relation to the distance from the North Sea. The warmest summers in the region are found in Stockton-on-Tees and the Middlesbrough area, with a 1981-2010 July average high of 20.4 °C. Precipitation is low by English standards, in spite of the low levels of sunshine, with Stockton-on-Tees averaging only 574.2 millimetres annually, with the seaside town of Tynemouth recording 597.2 millimetres annually. The summers on the northern coastlines are cooler than in the southern and central inland areas: Tynemouth is only just above 18 °C in July. Further inland, frosts during winter are more common, due to the higher elevations and distance from the sea. After more than 2,000 years of industrial activity as a result of abundant minerals such as salt and coal the chemical industry of the Northeast England is today spread across the whole of the region with pharmaceuticals being produced in the north of the region and fine chemicals spread across the middle of the region and commodity chemicals and petrochemicals on Teessi
Greater London Authority
The Greater London Authority known as City Hall, is the devolved regional governance body of London, with jurisdiction over both counties of Greater London and the City of London. It consists of two political branches: the executive Mayoralty and the 25-member London Assembly, which serves as a means of checks and balances on the former. Since May 2016, both branches have been under the control of the London Labour Party; the authority was established in 2000, following a local referendum, derives most of its powers from the Greater London Authority Act 1999 and the Greater London Authority Act 2007. It is a strategic regional authority, with powers over transport, economic development, fire and emergency planning. Three functional bodies — Transport for London, the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, the London Fire Commissioner — are responsible for delivery of services in these areas; the planning policies of the Mayor of London are detailed in a statutory London Plan, updated and published.
The Greater London Authority is funded by direct government grant and it is a precepting authority, with some money collected with local Council Tax. The GLA is unique in the British devolved and local government system, in terms of structure and selection of powers; the authority was established to replace a range of joint boards and quangos and provided an elected upper tier of local government in London for the first time since the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986. The GLA is responsible for the strategic administration of the 1579 km² of Greater London, it shares local government powers with the councils of 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation. It was created to improve the co-ordination between the local authorities in Greater London, the Mayor of London's role is to give London a single person to represent it; the Mayor proposes policy and the GLA's budget, makes appointments to the capital's strategic executive such as Transport for London. The primary purpose of the London Assembly is to hold the Mayor of London to account by scrutiny of his or her actions and decisions.
The assembly must accept or amend the Mayor's budget on an annual basis. The GLA is based at City Hall, a new building on the south bank of the River Thames, next to Tower Bridge; the GLA is different from the Corporation of the City of London with its ceremonial Lord Mayors, which controls only the Square Mile of the City, London's chief financial centre. In 1986, the Greater London Council was abolished by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. Many people have surmised that the decision to abolish the GLC was made because of the existence of a high-spending left-wing Labour administration under Ken Livingstone, although pressure for the abolition of the GLC had arisen before Mr Livingstone took over, was driven by the belief among the outer London Borough councils that they could perform the functions of the GLC just as well. On abolition, the strategic functions of the GLC were transferred to bodies controlled by central government or joint boards nominated by the London Borough councils.
Some of the service delivery functions were transferred down to the councils themselves. For the next 14 years there was no single elected body for the whole of London; the Labour Party never supported the abolition of the GLC and made it a policy to re-establish some form of citywide elected authority. The Labour party adopted a policy of a single, directly elected Mayor, together with an elected Assembly watching over the Mayor. After the Labour party won the 1997 general election, the policy was outlined in a White paper entitled A Mayor and Assembly for London. With the elections to the London Borough councils, a referendum was held on the establishment of the GLA in May 1998, approved with 72% of the vote; the Greater London Authority Act 1999 passed through Parliament, receiving the Royal Assent in October 1999. In a controversial election campaign, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, attempted to block Livingstone's nomination and imposed his own candidate. In reaction, Livingstone stood as an independent candidate, resulting in his expulsion from the Labour Party and in March 2000, was elected as Mayor of London.
Following an interim period in which the Mayor and Assembly had been elected but had no powers, the GLA was formally established on 3 July 2000. Areas which the GLA has responsibility for include transport, policing and rescue, development and strategic planning; the GLA does not directly provide any services itself. Instead, its work is carried out by functional bodies which come under the GLA umbrella and work under the policy direction of the Mayor and Assembly; these functional bodies are: Transport for London – Responsible for managing most aspects of London's transport system, including public transport, main roads, traffic management, administering the London congestion charge. Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime – Responsible for overseeing the Metropolitan Police Service, which provides policing throughout Greater London. Replaced the Metropolitan Police Authority in January 2012 under the provisions of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011; the London Fire Commissioner – Administers the London Fire Brigade and co-ordinates emergency planning.
Until April 2017 this was the responsibility of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority
Courts of England and Wales
The Courts of England and Wales, supported administratively by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in England and Wales. The United Kingdom does not have a single unified legal system—England and Wales has one system, Scotland another, Northern Ireland a third. There are exceptions to this rule. Additionally, the Military Court Service has jurisdiction over all members of the armed forces of the United Kingdom in relation to offences against military law; the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Crown Court, the County Court, the magistrates' courts are administered by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the highest appeal court in all cases in England and Wales. Before the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 this role was held by the House of Lords; the Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal for devolution matters, a role held by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The Supreme Court has a separate administration from the other courts of England and Wales, its administration is under a Chief Executive, appointed by the President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The Senior Courts of England and Wales were created by the Judicature Acts as the "Supreme Court of Judicature", it was renamed the "Supreme Court of England and Wales" in 1981, again to the "Senior Courts of England and Wales" by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. It consists of the following courts: Court of Appeal High Court of Justice Crown CourtThe Senior Courts of England and Wales, along with the Tribunals and other courts, are administered and supported by HM Courts and Tribunals Service; the Court of Appeal deals only with appeals from other tribunals. The Court of Appeal consists of two divisions: the Civil Division hears appeals from the High Court and County Court and certain superior tribunals, while the Criminal Division may only hear appeals from the Crown Court connected with a trial on indictment.
Its decisions are binding on all courts, including itself, apart from the Supreme Court. The High Court of Justice functions both as a civil court of first instance and a criminal and civil appellate court for cases from the subordinate courts, it consists of three divisions: the Chancery and the Family divisions. The divisions of the High Court are not separate courts, but have somewhat separate procedures and practices adapted to their purposes. Although particular kinds of cases will be assigned to each division depending on their subject matter, each division may exercise the jurisdiction of the High Court. However, beginning proceedings in the wrong division may result in a costs penalty; the formation of The Business and Property Courts of England & Wales within the High Court was announced in March 2017, launched in London in July 2017. The courts would in future administer the specialist jurisdictions, administered in the Queen's Bench Division under the names of the Admiralty Court, the Commercial Court, the Technology & Construction Court, under the Chancery Division's lists for Business and Insolvency, Intellectual Property and Trusts and Probate.
The Crown Court is a criminal court of both original and appellate jurisdiction which in addition handles a limited amount of civil business both at first instance and on appeal. It was established by the Courts Act 1971, it replaced the assizes whereby High Court judges would periodically travel around the country hearing cases, quarter sessions which were periodic county courts. The Old Bailey is the unofficial name of London's most famous criminal court, now part of the Crown Court, its official name is the "Central Criminal Court". The Crown Court hears appeals from magistrates' courts; the Crown Court is the only court in England and Wales that has the jurisdiction to try cases on indictment and when exercising such a role it is a superior court in that its judgments cannot be reviewed by the Administrative Court of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court. The Crown Court is an inferior court in respect of the other work it undertakes, viz. inter alia, appeals from the magistrates’ courts and other tribunals.
The most common subordinate courts in England and Wales are County Court Family Court Magistrates' courts Youth courts The County Court is a national court with a purely civil jurisdiction, sitting in 92 different towns and cities across England and Wales. As from 22 April 2014 there has been a single County Court for England and Wales where there was a series of courts; the County Court is so named after the ancient sheriff's court held in each county, but it has no connection with it nor indeed was the jurisdiction of the county courts based on counties. A County Court hearing is presided over by either a district or circuit judge and, except in a small minority of cases such as civil actions against the police, the judge sits alone as trier of fact and law without assistance from a jury; the old county courts' divorce and family jurisdiction was passed on 22 April 2014 to the single Family Court. Until unification in 2014, county courts were local courts in the sense that each one has an area over
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.