For everyone interested in the work of Britain's Parliament; the US Congress; the European Parliament and the French Parlement.
Discuss Practice, Procedure, History and current issues.
Thursday, 22 August 2013
Criminal and Civil Law
In English Law, one of the most important distinctions is between Criminal and Civil Law. For Law students at any level, it is important to be able to discuss what distinguishes them.
Here's a framework -
Governing Relationships Criminal - between an individual and the rest of the community [embodied in the 'State'] Civil - between individuals
(This is a generalisation - there are exceptions - especially in Magistrates Courts which have some civil jurisdiction) Criminal - Magistrates Court; Crown Court Civil - County Court; High Court.
The Court of Appeal has a Criminal and a Civil Division.
Parties Criminal - Prosecution/Prosecutor (usually a case is brought by the authorities, but most offences could be the subject of a private prosecution) and Defendant Civil - Claimant and Defendant/Respondent
Who can bring a case? Criminal - Generally anyone (though in practice it is the Authorities - and some offences may only be brought by certain officials eg. DPP) Civil - Limited to a person who has suffered the loss
Who can halt a case? Criminal - generally only the State Civil - only the parties themselves
Language Used Criminal - Prosecutes; Guilt Civil - Claims (sues); Liability
Standard of Proof Criminal - Beyond reasonable doubt Civil - Balance of probabilities
Purpose Criminal - Sanctions - Imprisonment; Fines; other punishments; discharge (conditional or unconditional) Civil - Remedies - compensation;
If faced with an exam question on the differences - do illustrate the answer with examples. It is important to stress that the same event may lead to criminal AND civil proceedings.
An experienced lecturer, tutor & researcher with practical experience of working in the UK and European Parliaments.
I have a keen academic and practical interest in the workings of both the UK Parliament and the US Congress.
Over the years I have broadcast on both UK & US Politics for BBC local radio stations.