Introduction to English Common Law
The course aims to provide students with an understanding of common law procedure, common law reasoning and argumentation, as well as an understanding of the place of human rights within the contemporary English legal system. To this end, the course is intended to foster understanding through activities and reading. This course consists of three parts:
Part I: Legal System
Part II: Case-law Method: the Common Law
Part III: Murder and Defamation
In Part I there will be an introductory lecture and a visit to the Crown or Magistrates’ Court, including the completion of a court observation form as part of a learning log. Seminars will be used to discuss the court observation, the notion of a fair trial and how the various actors in the court process contribute to the idea of a fair trial. Students will complete the learning log by bringing together their observations, reflections, readings and discussions.
In Part II lectures will examine the sources of English common law from domestic legislation and judge-made case law to international treaties and the law of the European Union. In seminars, students will be introduced to reading cases, discovering the judges’ legal reasoning and applying the principles to new legal problems.
In Part III students will concentrate on the development of case-law and recent legislative changes in relation to the crime of murder and the civil wrong of defamation. Seminars will explore causation and intent, general and partial defences to murder, and defences to defamation.
No prior knowledge of English law is required, but it is desirable that a student has taken some law courses before.