“The English Legal System” (Courts, Judges, Lawyers, Civil & Criminal Procedure)

9.15: Coffee


9.30: INTRODUCTION: Common Law


Session One


Background and Court Hierarchy

Sources of law: English & European legislation, Precedent,

Judicial interpretation

Nature of British Constitution, Separation of Powers, the Rule of Law,

Equity, independence of the judiciary, court hierarchy

Court structure: divisions of the High Court, county courts,

Magistrates’ courts, crown courts, coroners’ courts, judges

Appeals: Crown Court, High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, Privy Council



11.15: Coffee / Tea



11.30: Session Two


Legal Profession in England and Wales

Solicitors, barristers, notaries public, patent agents, “lawyers”, “counsel”

Routes to qualification; modes of practice,

Areas of work: contentious & non-contentious

Sole practitioners, partnerships, limited liability partnerships

Multi-disciplined partnerships, “alternative business structures” (ABS) from Oct 2011

Advocacy, rights of audience, “officers of the court”,

Conducting litigation: being “on the record”, undertakings to the court

Other legal professionals: legal executives, licensed conveyancers, “para-legals”, costs lawyers (draftsmen)

Forms of address and description in court, court attire,

The Law Society, Solicitors Regulation Authority, Inns of Court, Bar Council

Legal Ombudsman: professional negligence

Multi-disciplined partnerships


1.00: Lunch


2.30: Session Three


Proceedings in Court

Civil and criminal proceedings: different aims, parties and procedure: defamation trials

Standards of proof: verdicts and judgments: quantum and liability

Evidence and proof: evidence on oath, calling witnesses, perjury, corroboration, exhibits

Witness statements, affidavits, examination of witnesses, hostile witnesses, leading questions

Contempt of court, civil and criminal

Hearings and trials, judges and juries

Reading law reports


3.45: Tea / Coffee


4.00: Session Four


Litigation Terminology

Changes in civil terminology and procedure since 1999

Issue of civil proceedings: claim form, statements of case

Service of proceedings, interim and interlocutory applications and orders

Judgments, enforcement of judgments

Limitation periods, claims statute-barred, laches

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): arbitration, conciliation, mediation


5.30: course ends



Key Terminology and Concepts in Common Law: Contract & Civil Liability

8.45 Coffee


9.00: INTRODUCTION: What is Common Law?


Session One: Contract Formation


Pre-conditions: Legal Capacity, defined parties, lawful object, intention to create legal relations

Agreements and contracts

The doctrine of Consideration as an essential element in contract formation

Void and voidable contracts

Representations, warranties, conditions: how they differ

Meanings and use of Guarantees: compare guarantees and indemnities

Negotiations and correspondence “subject to contract”

Legal status of Heads of Agreement, Comfort Letter

Offer and acceptance: a counter-offer

Negotiating in “good faith”

Agency, Powers of Attorney, Proxies: meanings, differences, uses


11.00 Tea / Coffee


11.15: Session Two: Remedies for Breach of Contract


Under Common Law: damages: meaning and purpose of damages

Evidence of loss: foreseeability: causation: duty to “mitigate”

Liquidated damages and “penalties”: test of enforceability

Availability of claims for “Quantum Meruit”

Equitable (discretionary) remedies for breach: Specific Performance, Injunction, Rescission, and Rectification

Frustration of contract

Inadmissibility of dispute / settlement correspondence “without prejudice”.


1.00: Lunch


2.30:  Session Three: Some Common Contract Clauses and Terminology


Statement of parties, preamble, consideration,

Meaning of “time to be of the essence of the contract”

Entire Agreement

No Waiver

Exclusion clauses





3.30: Tea / Coffee


3.45: Session Four: Litigation Terminology and Limitation Periods


Causes of action: tort: negligence, defamation

The 1999 terminology changes

Claim Form and Statements of Case

Issue and service of proceedings

Disclosure (formerly “Discovery”): affidavits

Hearings and Trials

Interlocutory applications and orders: interim orders

Orders and judgments

Orders for costs: “costs follow the event”

Vicarious liability, contributory negligence, burden of proof, standard of proof

Limitation of actions: various periods: claims “statute-barred”

Domicile, Contempt of Court, Solicitors’ Undertakings

Reading English Law reports


5.15-5.30: Course ends