Sources of Law in England and Wales

In this document, different sources of law in England and Wales will be analyzed along with the internal and external influences, which affect the development of law.


Oliver (2015) described that “English law is defined as a legal system of England and Wales, which encompasses set of rules, created by the state along with jurisdiction binding and implemented by the authority of the state”. The rules defined as what we can do and what we cannot do. The rules created by the parliament are known as ‘statute law’ or act of parliament. The content of statue law is greatly influenced by the European Union as well as human right act 1998.

In case of ‘common law’, the decisions of the senior appellate court are included and made part of the law. Moreover, the European Union (EU) law takes priority over the England and Wales law. At last, not least, the European convention on human rights (ECHR) protects the right identified by the relevant stakeholders under ECHR. The key distinction in law is made in terms of civil law and criminal law. The civil law deals areas such as family matters, employment and contracts. Whereas, criminal law is applicable when it believes the crime requires an investigation (Huxley-Binns and Martin, 2014).

Different sources of the law in England and Wales

English law is made up of common law, legislation passed by parliament as well as European influence. There are four main sources of law in England and Wales (Holdsworth et al., 2015)

  1. Statute law
  2. The common law
  3. European Union law
  4. European Convention on Human Rights

1. Statute Law

Malleson and Moules (2015) explained that the statute law is composed of the act and resolution passed by the parliament. Most of the English laws are created by the parliament or with the help of parliament authority. The legislation is created by passing the bill in both ‘House of Common’ and ‘House of Lords’.

In the pre-legislative stage, government issues the green papers in terms of proposals for discussion with the stakeholders. The white paper lays down the principles and drafts the bill, which then goes to parliament for approval and discussion in both houses.

Act of Parliament, statutory instruments and byelaws

The bills first stage is introduction and reading in the House of Commons. The same procedure is applicable in the House of Lords. The important and controversial bills usually start in the House of Commons and first reading pronounces the existence of bill and mark date for second reading. The second stage involves full debate on the bill and speech by the proposing minister. The shadow minister put forward the argument along with voting from the members. Then the bill is forward to committee for approval (Turner et al., 2014).

Hartley (2014) added that if amendment and further reading is required, then committee proposes the scenario. In the third reading, only main points are discussed and minor grammar and syntax changes can be made. The House of Lords involves greater level change. The House of Lords cannot reject the bill although it can delay the bill up to one year except the money bill The last step before bill become the act of parliament it must receive royal assent. The royal assent is a formality and the bill enclosed the date when the act of parliament will be enforced.

Similarly, statutory instruments are produced by government departments to execute the policy sets to enforce act of parliament. The bylaws are created by the local authorities to regulate the provision of facilities (Slorach et al., 2015).

2. Common Law or Case Law

Lundmark (2012) discussed that the cases of legal importance are reported through series of law reports. Nevertheless, the cases involve the lower court rarely reported. The law created by the court or integration of court decision into law is known as common law.

The Parliament takes over the role primary lawmaker from the courts. In case of common law, the lawmaking evolves slowly and haphazardly scenarios when cases come to court with facts and the circumstances justify legal development and creation of law. The Court is only permitted to legislate for something, which is already happening and cannot draft or proposed legislation for future.

Reporting procedure

The reporting procedure was changed in 1865, when private reports were replaced with nominated reports. The nominated reports were made of 178-volume collection dated (1220-1873) and called as English reports. The sequential reports redefined in terms of chapters and it made it easy to find the report.

The systematized reporting by ‘incorporated council of Law Reporting’ (ICLR) and collected called the reports as ‘the law reports’. The Law Reports (1865- ) comprises four separate series: Appeal Cases, Chancery Division, Queens Bench and Family Division. The ICLR publish the weekly reports whereas all England represent general series of reports (Mitchell and Storey, 2016).

Statutory interpretation

Turner et al (2014) elaborated that the court has developed the procedure and practices for the interpretation of the matter. The four approaches followed by the court are consisting of contextual approach, in which, the scenario is analyzed in the surrounding context to develop the response.

Moreover, in the literal approach, the situation is clearly irrelevant to the result. The situation is managed through the golden rule in which least absurd meaning applied to the situation. The last approach applicable is the purposive approach in meaning is adopted for the intended purpose.

Civil and criminal law in England and Wales

Speaight (2016) explained that civil disputes occur when an individual or company believes that another party has committed civil wrong. The cases are heard in county court as well as the high court. In county and high court, the single judge hears the case and high court usually hears the case of high value. The individual/group that begins the civil proceeding is known as claimant and the defending person is known as a defendant.

Each party retains the right to appeal to the higher court. Whereas after the investigation, if police believe a person has done the crime, the individual is charged and the case is sent to Crown Prosecution Services (CPS). The senior appellate courts are ‘Court of appeal’ England and Wales under civil and criminal divisions and ‘Supreme Court ‘is the highest court in the whole (Mitchell and Storey, 2015).

Sources of law in England and Wales (English law)

3. European Union Law

In 1973, European law becomes applicable in England and Wales when UK signed on the membership of European Economic Community (ECC). The EU treaty of 1992officially changed the name and under the Act of ECC, the EU law becomes the part of UK law. The EU has the priority over the England and Wales law, when there is a conflict exists (Davies, 2015).

Institution structure of EU

Kaczorowska (2012) mentioned that the ‘Council of Ministers’ is the main legislator of the community. The council is made up of the member from each state and the representation depends upon the subject matter of the scenario. The participation in the meeting to discuss the legal issue is either by the foreign minister or by the minister with the relevant portfolio. The further directives are managed under the European Council. The role of European Council, as well as European Parliament, consists of the member from each state. The European Commission has both policy and legislation making power.

Sources of Law

There are number of treaties exist which create obligation on each member state to comply with the EU directives and laws. The regulation of EU is imposed for uniformity of legal matter throughout the community. The EU regulation is enforced on each member state as soon as they issued. Whereas the European directives are applicable for prolific source of law and purpose of these is to create uniformity among the member states (Huxley-Binns and Martin, 2014).

Impact of EU law on English Law

The EU laws have considered influence in number of areas related to business and human rights. The EU law takes the priority and number of treaties and directives are applicable in UK for employment, security and freedom of movements. The European law is highly applicable especially in terms of ‘right at work and business -related law (Betten, 2014).

4. The human Right Act 1998

Davies (2015) explained that the European convention on human rights is applicable to the UK as it member state who signed the law. It states the number of rights in terms of freedom, liberty as well as civil rights. The human prevails over the English law and decisions should be made under the human right convention. The European court of human rights (ECHR) can be reached if there is lack provision in the domestic law. The court has the power to grant remedies as well as damages if the claimant proved the violation of UK law.

The judicial decision has both direct and indirect impact on the domestic law when interpreted and apply. The commission of equality and human right highlight the importance of creating equality and diversity through enforcing equal human rights.


The English law is made from mixture of common and statute right. The act of parliament is an important component of the law in England and Wales. Moreover, the court can form on the in reactive manner and the court does not have the power to draft the proactive legislation. The legislation creation authority is Parliament with the assent of royal.

The EU directives and regulations are enforced, because of membership treaty signed. The EU law takes priority over the English law and decision should be made in light of EU law.

The EU law is highly applicable to its member states in term of business as well as human rights. The EU law is created by EU commission which representative from each member state.



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