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The Law Machine [Anglais] [Broché]

Marcel Berlins , Clare Dyer

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Description de l'ouvrage

23 février 2011
The authors explain and discuss how the justice system evolved, the way it operates - including vivid descriptions of the trial process - and how lawyers work. Revised and updated throughout for this fifth edition, THE LAW MACHINE surveys recent developments in the workings of justice and the outlook for the future. 'Refreshingly free of the patronizing attitude and the humbug with which other books about the legal system are riddled' - THES

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The Law Machine + La common law - 3e éd.: Connaissance du droit
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Biographie de l'auteur

Marcel Berlins, a former practising lawyer, has written several books and presented a number of television series, including The Law Machine. He presents 'Law in Action' on BBC Radio 4 and writes a weekly legal column in the Guardian. Clare Dyer, asolicitor, is legal correspondent of the Guardian and the British Medical Journal.

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In an average year Parliament passes between 45 and 60 new acts, some just a page or two, others running to over a hundred pages. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Law Machine 4 mai 2011
Par Iyke Ozemena - Publié sur
THE LAW MACHINE was written by Marcel Berlins and Clare Dyer

The Law Machine was written first and foremost for laymen, individuals and institutions that do not know how the legal system operates. For this reason there is no doubt that everyone is entitled to benefit from this book. But for active lawyers in private or corporate practice it a detailed reminder; for students of law: academic, bar and law society it is an invaluable companion.

The authors were legal correspondents as well as practicing lawyers with varied experiences. Marcel was presenter of the London Weekend Television (LWT) series `The Law Machine' on which documentary the book was produced. The programme explained clearly how the British legal system worked using fictitious motor car accident driven by John Smith knocked down Anne Jones.

The incident had two legal consequences. The criminal prosecution for violating Road Traffic Act at the crown court, and civil suit at the High Court in tort of negligence resulting from breach of duty of care. While the former attracted criminal sanction of imprisonment or fine, the civil suit is/was meant to enable anyone (Anne) get damages for injuries suffered.

Though it was staged however professional lawyers acted as they normally would do in appropriate real life situation. The witnesses and jury were laymen who played similar roles in cases in court. The result was a thorough, clear and comprehensive guide on how a layman can understand and be able to describe the legal system.

Perhaps protocol was treated with levity when sitting judges including the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone were interviewd by LWT for this programme. As to whether the British legal system had attained the enviable height expected of it, he said if what was being celeberated is complacency "let us have more of it".

In chapter I the authors discussed how complex legal system could produce justice for all. The establishment of Citizens Advisory Bureaux and legal centres across the country were to enable ordinary Brton recover some compensation as Anne Jones was able to do in the LWT programme, the alternative would have been without any remedy.

The structure of courts and hierarchical significance were discussed by the authors in chapter II. Because of the ignorance of the law and apathy on the part of laymen the court is regarded as a place of drama and uncertainty. They quoted H.L. Mencken, American journalist who described a courtroom as a place where Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot would be equals, with the betting odds in favour of Judas. The authors used "simplified diagram of English Courts" for illustration.

There is a divided legal profession in Britain. The barristers are lawyers called to the bar who have audience in courts having been enrolled by any of the four Inns. There are on the other hand, solicitors who were trained to draft conveyances and legal documents and obtain briefs from litigants and pass them on to barristers of appropriate expertise to litigate. Litigants are not allowed to brief barristers directly. However, some legislation came into effect to make solicitors have audience in some courts; these solicitors have to display knowledge of High Court proceedings as well as courts where small claims are in issue. All these and more were discussed by the authors in chapter III. The attempt to fuse the two practices was made and law reform failed to take place even though a fused legal profession appeared to be in vogue across the world.

The British court judges are seen as enigma by ordinary Briton. Apart from the classes of judges and their emoluments which the authors displayed and attributed their aloofness, their training is also one of the factors which made it difficult for ordinary Briton to interact with judges. Equally important factor why judges are disconnected from the rest of the society is the role of an umpire they play. They have to be seen to maintain the independence of the institution they represent. Some of their decisions do lead to legal reform. In some cases changes are introduced as a result of their decisions. Part of judicial acitivities include plugging legislative loopholes where there is lacuna; in such rare cases they act as `law makers' even though judges like Lord Denning were criticized for usurping the role of the legislature.

Magistracy is one of the most important structure of British legal system and the authors dicussed this in chapter V. Interestingly there are fewer full-time stipendiary magistrates than unpaid part-time lay magistrates across the country. The rationale, their disqualification, gender balancing, recruitment, training, and the future of lay magistracy were fully discussed by the authors.

Perhaps the criminal justice system is the closest to ordinary individuals than any other. In chapter VI titled `Criminal Process' the authors captures the motor car accident involving John Smith and 25-year old Anne Jones who had just dropped her daughter Katy at school and was knocked down at Laurel Street T-junction.

The authors explained how civil litigation are processed in chapter VII by using Jane's misfortune and examined who should be responsible for the financial losses arising from the accident. There are different types of action, for instance Jane's action is in tort, precisely negligence. It is interesting to note the detailed role of solicitors in Jane's medical history and disposition to earn income, the role of insurance companies to setlle out of court. Unfortunately Anne had to pursue her case to the bitter end after three-year trial with $43,612 as compensation. The chapter ended with the examination of possible reforms looking beyond British jurisdiction.

Divorce proceeding is a major civic litigation in Britain a lot of these proceedings derive from accident claims annually. The authors in chapter VIII estimated that 30,000 of such divorce proceedings yearly came after accident claims. The common thread in all of them is breach of contractor negligence. About 99% of divorce proceedings are undefended. Any defended proceeding would be transferred to High Court where litigation is expensive. An affidavit of evidence and statements is all the Registrar/court requires to proclaim decree nisi which lingers till 6 weeks after which decree absolute is made and parties became free to marry again. Agreement is required between the parties regarding properties and children and an order of court is made accordingly.

The measurement varies with circumstance of the parties and children; no hard and fast rule, however in 1973 Lord Denning's judgment created a precedent of a third of the value of the couple's property, but over the years courts have changed the one-third because of supplementary benefit, increased income, children's maintenance etc of parties.

Law Machine
2.0 étoiles sur 5 A layperson�s legal reference that fits as a bedtime reading 18 avril 2004
Par "affordablebooks4u" - Publié sur
If anyone would like to gain a bit of knowledge about the English legal system, the Law Machine would be a perfect read. This book contains materials that are great for dinner party conversations. But, if one were serious about studying ELS at a university setting, then this book would only serve as a starting reference point to one's journey.
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