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In Britain, the vast majority of judges (that is, people who decide what should be done with people who commit crimes) are unpaid. They are called Magistrates, or Justices of the Peace or JPs.

There are about 30000 magistrates in Britain. They are ordinary people who are selected not because they have any legal training but because they have sound common sense and understand their fellow human beings. Magistrates are selected by special committees in every town and district. Nobody, not even the Magistrates themselves, knows who is on a special committee in their area. The committee tries to draw Magistrates from as wide a variety of professions and social classes as possible.

Magistrates judge cases in the lower courts. They have no formal legal qualifications, but they are respectable people who are given some training. They give up time voluntarily.


A small proportion of judges are not Magistrates. They are called High Court Judges and they deal with the most serious crimes, such as those for which the criminal might be sent to prison for more than a year. High Court Judges, unlike Magistrates, are paid salaries by the State and have legal training.

There is no special training for judges. They are trained as barristers and preside in more serious cases.


In England and Wales a coroner is an independent judicial office holder, appointed and paid for by the relevant local authority.

To become a coroner in England and Wales the applicant must have a degree in a medical or legal field, e.g., criminology or bio-medical sciences. Generally, coroners have had a previous career as a lawyer (solicitor/barrister) or physician of at least five years standing.

This reflects the role of a coroner: to investigate and to determine the cause of death in cases where the death was sudden, unexpected, violent or unnatural, occurred abroad, was suspicious in any way, or happened while the person was under the control of central authority (e.g., in police custody).

Clerks to the Court

Clerk to the court is an officer of the court whose principal duty is to maintain court records and preserve evidence presented during a trial. Clerks look after administrative and legal matters in the courtroom.

In an English Magistrates' Court, where the judges usually have no legal qualifications, the Court Clerk will be legally qualified. The Magistrates decide on the facts at issue; the clerk advises them on the law relating to the case.


A jury consists of twelve people (jurors), who are ordinary people chosen at random from the Electoral Register (the list of people who can vote in elections).

The jury listens to the evidence given in court in certain criminal cases and decides whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. If the person is found guilty, the punishment is passed by the presiding judge. Juries are rarely used in civil cases.

Choose the correct definition for each legal profession mentioned in the text.

(a) an officer acting as a judge in the lower courts.

(b) a public official with authority to hear and decide cases in a law court.

(c) a group of people who swear to give a true decision on issues of in a law court.

(d) an official who investigates the cause of any death thought to be violent or unnatural causes.

(e) a lawyer who has the right to speak and argue in higher law courts.

(f) a lawyer who prepares legal documents, advises clients on legal and speaks for them in lower law courts.


Answer the questions:

  1. What kind of judges is unpaid in Britain?
  2. How are the Magistrates selected?
  3. May the Magistrates judge cases in the High Court?
  4. Do the Magistrates get high salaries?
  5. Is it necessary to have any special education to become a Coroner?
  6. What are Coroners duties?
  7. What are the duties of the Court Clerk?
  8. Are the Court Clerks legally qualified?
  9. How many people do the Jury consist of?
  10. What do the jurors decide?
  11. Are the Juries used in civil or criminal cases?




In the Western world today there are countless systems of law, but, broadly speaking, they arise from either of two roots the Roman Law, or the English Law. The English Common Law is native to Britain, but has sprung forth in the United States, in Australia, New Zealand and most of Canada, while Scotland, the Continent and South Africa have taken strong doses of Roman Law.

The next influence on English Law was William the Conqueror (11th century). The English king Henry 2nd (12th century) also influenced the English law greatly. To him England owes the Assizes and the jury system as a regular mode of trial. In its early form the jury was a selected body of men who were obliged on oath to present for trial all the people in their district who committed crimes. The jury system became more firmly established and trial by jury became compulsory.

The court of Chancery was established under the Statute of Westminster 2nd (13th century). The Chancellor was at first the Kings secretary. The court of Chancery dealt with civil matters in Equity.

Relations between Common Law and Chancery Courts grew worse. After the Napoleonic Wars a new Common Court of Appeal was established. Various acts tended to one thing, the fusion of courts. This was finally achieved by the Judicature acts of 1873 and 1875. There was to be one Supreme Court, consisting of the Court of Appeal and the High Court. For convenience it was divided into three Divisions Chancery, Kings (Queens) Bench and Probate, Divorce and Admiralty. The age-old struggle between Law and Equity was put to rest.

The highest court in the land today is the House of Lords. In theory, any peer sitting in the House may take part in an appeal. It is a custom that only those in the Lords holding high judicial office may do so.

Common Law crimes were divided into two classes: felonies (the more serious) and misdemeanors (less grave). All felonies were punishable with death. As public opinion cried out against such cruelty, capital punishment was abolished for hundreds of offences and in 1965 it was abolished altogether.



1. Pick out from the text all the word combinations with the following words and give their Russian equivalents.

Trial, opinion, Judicature, crime, court, law, division, punishment.


2. Translate the following sentences.

1. England has no written constitution or code of law. 2. The laws of the Constitution comprise three kinds of rules: statute rules, case law and custom (especially Parliamentary custom). 3. Many of English most important rules of law cannot be found in any written enactment, but take parts of Common Law. 4. In this context Common Law means Unwritten law, as opposed to Statute Law. 5. Constitutional Law is the branch of law which regulates how the government of the country is to be carried out. 6. Though England has no written constitution, that is not to say it has no Constitutional Law. 7. Any part of law may be changed by simple Act of Parliament. 8. Roman Law had a great influence on Continental countries. 9. The Criminal Appeal Act, 1966, provides that the Court of Appeal shall consist of two divisions: one exercising civil jurisdiction and one criminal. 10. The purpose of punishment is to prevent the offender from committing more crimes.11. In the High Courts cases the jury comprises 12 persons. 12. When a judge sits without a jury, he determines questions of law and fact.


3. Complete the following sentences by translating phrases in brackets.

1. The High Court is divided into ( ). 2. In England and the USA the jury system ( ). 3. The Chancellor was the first ( ). 4. The Court of Chancery dealt with ( ). 5. The highest court in England today is ( ). 6. In theory any peer may take part in ( ). 7. Common Law crimes were divided into ( : ). 8. Some courts may decide the case ( ). 9. Capital punishment( ). 10. Scottish Law has taken a lot ( ).


4. Replace the following definitions using the active vocabulary.

1)set up, create; 2) taking a matter from a lower court to a higher court; 3) arrange in separate groups; 4) a hall where justice is administered; 5) examine in a court of law, act as a judge ; 6) say that a person has broken the law.


5. Paraphrase the words and word combinations in bold type using the equivalents from the text.

1..The new rules were set up by the state. 2. The body of 12 persons decided the case. 3. The accused was examined in a court of law. 4. You cannot say that a person has done wrong unless you have proved it. 5. The Act of Parliament separated the Court into three divisions. 6. The case was taken from the lower court into a higher court. 7. He was tried in the hall of justice. 8. This crime was punishable with death. 9. The rules tell people what they must do and what they must not do. 10. The prisoner appealed against the judges decision. 11. The jurors were trying the case. 12. The Romans failed to affect the English law. 13. Henry 2nd was the first lawyer among the English Kings.14. The Court of Chancery dealt with civil matters in Equity.15. The courts of Assizes and Quarter Sessions were abolished.


6. Chose the suitable word and translate the sentences into Russian.

1. There are ( few, a lot, countless) systems of law in Europe and Africa. 2. (Roman, Greek, Arab) law influenced the Continent law greatly. 3. Romans failed to (influenced, abolish, affect) the English Law.4. The jury system became ( unnecessary, compulsory, obligatory) in England and America. 5. The fusion of the courts was (made, achieved, reached) in the 19th century.6. The court of Chancery was (founded, established, abolished) in the 13th century. Public opinion cried out against (capital punishment, imprisonment, fines). 8. The Court (fined, punished, set free) the offender severely. 9. What is the best way of (treating, dealing with, educating) young offenders?


6. Answer the following questions.

1. What are the two main roots of Law in the Western World? 2. In which countries did the English Common Law spring forth? 3. Did the European countries take a lot from the English Common Law or from Roman Law? 4. When did the Normans conquer England? 5. What court system does England owe to Henry 2nd ? 6. When was the jury system established? 7. What was the jury in its early form? 8. Whom did the jury present for trial? 9. When was the Court of Chancery established and what was the Chancellor at first? 10. Did the Court of Chancery deal with criminal or civil matters? 11. When was the new Common Law Court of Appeal established? 12. When was the fusion of the courts achieved? 13. How was the High Court divided in the 19th century? 14. What is the highest court in England? 15. What members of Parliament may take part in an appeal? 16. Into what classes were Common Law crimes divided? 17. What crimes were punishable with death? 18. When was the capital punishment abolished altogether in England? 19. How many offences were punishable with death?


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1057

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