The County Court and the Magistrates Courts

In the course of his reasoning, Bowen LJ gave the legal answer to a set of facts, which were not in issue in this case. This answer was thus an obiter dictum. He did this because it assisted him in clarifying the answer to Mrs Carlill's case… if such facts were ever subsequently in issue in a court case, then the words of Bowen LJ could be used by counsel as persuasive precedent. (Slapper,P92) Courts can turn to legal textbooks for guidance. Authoritative works produced after Blackstone's Commentaries of 1765 are judged to be recent and cannot be used as authoritative sources.

You also have Coke from the 17th century, Bracton from the 13th century and Glanville from the 12th. It was the Judicature acts 1873 – 1875 that were largely responsible for our present court structure. The English Court System was reorganised to establish the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The act originally sought the abolition of the judicial functions of the House of Lords, however the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 removed these provisions. The House of Lords stands at the pinnacle of the system with both a judicial and legislative function.

From the middle of the 19th century it developed a rule to be bound by its previous decisions. This is called Binding Precedent. It was however, the case of London Street Tramways Co Ltd v. London County Council in 1898 that enabled them to depart from previous decisions where they felt it was appropriate. The logic and principles behind the old practice was that any decision by the highest court in the land should be a final one so there could be certainty. This however made the system rigid.

More flexibility in this system would allow for social changes and to fit in with an ever-changing society. This also has an effect on the practices of coming into line with the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. A rigid form of precedent binds neither of these courts although previous decisions they have made will not be ignored. A crucial example of the House of Lords adapting to changing circumstances is in the case of Hall v. Simons (2000) in which a previous authority was not followed from the case of Rondel v.

Worsley (1969). The Court of Appeal consists of two divisions, Civil and Criminal. It will usually sit with 3 members and is generally bound by decisions made by the House of Lords. Decisions made by the European Court of Justice, can effectively overrule House of Lords decisions, which would be followed by the Court of Appeal. Whilst being bound by its own decisions, the Court of Appeal is known to make exceptions in cases where there has been conflict between decisions made previously, such as the case of Tiverton Estates Ltd v.

Wearwell Ltd (1974). As well as this, the case of Young v. Bristol Aeroplane (1944) set a precedent for a change in guidelines. Exceptions can also be made in instances of decisions made in error or 'per incuriam'. Also, as they are dealing with people's liberty, for example in cases such as miscarriages of justice, they need the flexibility to change decisions and set people free. It will bind the courts below it. Divisional Courts can be found within the three divisions of the High Court.

They are bound by the doctrine of 'stare decisis' and have to follow decisions made by the House of Lords and the Court of Appeal. They bind courts beneath them in the courts hierarchy. These divisions are the Queens Bench, Chancery and Family divisions. Decisions made by any division are binding on the courts below them. The three divisions are distinct. High Court judges sit alone, and do not bind judges in other divisions. However within the divisions, they have a strong persuasive influence.

These divisions would hear appeals from courts below them. The County Court and the Magistrates Courts are bound by the other courts higher in the Hierarchy and do not bind others. In conclusion, common law, consciously or unconsciously, is a law that in the main we all follow and obey. Socially and morally Common Law sets a standard in our lives today, which has evolved over many centuries. To deviate from these rules is frowned upon by the decent. Prior to the emergence of this standard, in a feudal society we lived. This law is now common to us all.