Despite not having the qualifications to give in-depth legal advice, we can point you in the right direction. We hope you can make use of this easy to understand advice about legal jargon.

We base this introduction on the legal system in the United Kingdom. In the main, it is a two part system with many divisions contained within those systems. Most UK legal cases will either be of a criminal or a civil nature.

Note: Nowadays, we also need to take other legal systems into consideration, such as the European Legal System and other different types of law that relate to human Rights!

Civil Law

Actions of civil law include a wide range of issues. They range from matrimonial actions, debt recovery, to property boundaries and other infringements.

Civil cases are generally started by a person filing a claim. A person or company (the claimant) may file against another person or another company (the defendant). The claimant needs to prove in court that what they are claiming for is right and justified.

As a rule, a guilty defendant would need to settle the matter as laid down by the court (often a financial penalty). Civil law cases do not usually end in jail sentences. Instead the result would be some form of retribution. A County Court would be where most civil law cases take place.

Criminal Law

In most cases, the police handle cases of criminal law, even though a person can report a crime to the police. If so, the person would have no more to do with the case, other than at the behest of the police, or the criminal court system. A local Magistrates Court would deal with the majority of criminal cases that are ‘minor’ in nature.

Police forces carry out the investigations and charge the suspected party. They would then hand over the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Criminal cases would arrive at court after a consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service.

They would decide whether the crown should proceed against the person or company thought to have committed a crime. The case would not proceed if they consider there is not enough evidence or a likelihood that the case would fail.

The Tribunal Service

The United Kingdom Government administers the Tribunal Service. Among first level of administrations are several important aspects, such as:

  • The General Regulatory Chamber
  • The Health, Education and Social Care Chamber
  • The Immigration and Asylum Chamber
  • The Social Entitlement Chamber
  • The Tax Chamber
  • The War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Chamber

Yes it sounds complex, but there are a multitude of other chambers that deal with separate matters (e.g. Employment Tribunals).

Human Rights

The legislation on Human Rights comes out of the EU via Strasbourg. It is binding law in the United Kingdom, even though many citizens wish it were not.

The European Convention on Human Rights is now embedded (entrenched) into UK Law. Successive governments have vilified it, or at least wished it was not so. Yet, the UK was instrumental in setting this up and involved at all stages of law making in the formative years.

The Legal Profession and Professionals

Over the last few years, the legal profession has changed in dramatic fashion. We now see solicitors losing out on their lucrative mortgaging arrangements. Instead, some have turned their hand to chasing compensation claims for which they are now able to advertise. Whether that is a good or bad thing is not for us to pass judgement.

It is important to be aware of how much any legal dealing you enter into would cost. Solicitor bills can be very high. If anything goes wrong you have little recourse, although they do have their own policing facility.

The legal profession is actually structured around legitimate solicitors and barristers. But, there are many other legal companies on the fringes of the legal profession proper. We will be advising on who can do what in the legal field.

The Jury System

In many instances, most notably more than the professionals, it is the jury that rules supreme. Juries can please and annoy professionals and those affected by the decision of the judicial system. The public should never underestimate the power of the jury system in the United Kingdom.

The inherent strengths of the jury systems are evident (pardon the pun). It is an act seen as the duty of all UK citizens to be available to serve on juries, as and when required. Even so, there are exceptions on who can serve – and who cannot. It is a system that is open to abuse, but a good citizen will rise to the call if commanded.