Criminology : AC1.1 : Describe Processes used for Law Making

Government Processes

 - Main legislative body in the UK is parliament

 - Laws passed by parliament are known as Acts of parliament or statutes

 - Around 70 to 100 acts are passed each year

 - An Act is known as a bill before it is a law

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Parliament

- Consists of 3 bodies :

1. Monarch

2. Lords

3. Commons

- Both houses must vote in favour of a bill before it becomes a new act of parliament

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Preparing & Drafting a Bill

- Government Department publishes Green Paper

- Green Paper outlines plans for a bill and seeks advice & comments from affected people and organisations

- Minister and Department then consider comments and publish White Paper

- White Paper outlines new ideas for a bill.

- Parliamentary draftsmen use White Paper to write Bill

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Bill to an Act Process

1. First Reading - Formal introductions of Bill into the House of Commons/Lords

2. Second Reading - Main debate on the Bill's principles

3. Committee Stage - Clause-by-clause consideration of Bill by committee

4. Report Stage - Reviewed by the Huse in which it started. Amendments will be debated in the House and accepted or rejected

5. Third Reading - Final debate on Bill

6. Repeat of Process - If Bill began in House of Lords, all stages will be repeated in House of Commons

7. Royal Assent - A formality where monarch approves Bill

Now an Act of parliament

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First Reading

- When a Bill is introduced into parliament

- A way of letting members know a Bill is coming up for discussion

- Date for second reading has to be named when a Bill is given its first reading

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Second Reading

- Explaining the purpose of the Bill

- Usually at least 2 weekends between first and second readings

- First really important stage of a Bill

- Minister in charge explains its main purpose

- This stage consists of the main debate

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Committee Stage

- Looking at the details

- Allows examination of all the detail of a Bill fot the first time

- Most Government Bills considered by committees between 15 and 50 MP's known as Public Bill Committee

- Membership is always roughly in proportion to the number of seats each party has in the commons

- At least one Minister from the government department responsible for the Bill will be on the committee as will a front-bench spokesperson from each of the main opposition parties.

- 15 to 50 members is more managable

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Report Stage

- Further consideration and changes by the whole House

- House of Commons have to be told what happened as normally only a small number of members will have been involved in the committee meetings

- Bill will be reprinted before the report stage if there have been amendments so members can see how changes fit into the Bill as a whole

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Third Reading

- Overall examination of the Bill

- Gives House of Commons a chance to look again at the Bill as a whole

- Decide whether they want it to go any further

- Bill cannot be changed at this stage

- Once passed third reading, one of the clerks at the table carries it to the House of Lords for their consideration

- Bill then passes to Lords where the process is repeated

- Any changes made by HoL have to be considered by the HoC

- Commons normally accept most of the Lords' amendments which are non-controversial

- When Commons do not agree they will send a note to the Lords explaining the reasons

- Bill may go to and fro for a while, a process known as 'ping-pong'

-If unable to compromise, Commons will eventually get its way by reintroducing the Bill the following year

- Lords usually compromise the first time round and save the commons the trouble of reintroducing it

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Royal Assent

- Once both Houses of Parliament have passed a Bill it has to go to the Queen for Royal Assent

- No Bills have been rejected by the Monarch since 1707 by Queen Anne

- Even after an Act has received the Royal Assent, it may not come into force straight away

- Most Acts do come into force

- Some Acts require a special order called a Commencement Order before they take effect

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Green and White

Green Paper - Outlines plans for a possible new law

White Paper - Government publishes firm proposals

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Judicial Processes : Role of Judges

- The system is adversarial (parties run their cases with the judge acting as referee)

- Basic role of judges is to uhhold and interpret National Laws

- Judge has to ensure that the jury understands the evidence and issues

- Judges will advise jury on processes and explain their duties

- Judges will deal with any points of law that have to be decided and will advise jury on how to apply the law to the facts they find

- Control court proceedings by acting as 'case managers' ensuring trials are conducted fairly

- Have to make sure that evidence has not been tampered with or that statements have not been made under pressure

- Will pass sentence if defendant is guilty

- Trial Judges hear cases at first instance

- Appeal Judges hear both criminal and civil appeals

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Criminal Trials

- Ensure hearing is carried out fairly

- Decide questions of law

- District judges in Magistrates court decide verdict, sentence and preliminary matters

- Crown Court - sum up for jury, sentence if appropriate

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Criminal Appeals

- Review hearing at first instance

- Decide whether the law was correctly decided and whether the hearing was carried out properly

- Decisions made by 3 or more judges

- Can change decision if unsafe

- Order a retrial

- Revise the sentence

- Decide issues of law in important cases

- Clarify or amend law where appropriate

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Judicial Precedent

- Law made by judges in the courts

- When a case appears before them they must make a judgement and this forms the law

- It must be followed in future similar cases

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Donoghue v Stevenson 1932

- Donoghue found a decomposed snail at the bottom of her ginger beer

- Bottle was opaque so the snail couldnt have been seen

- The manufacturer owed a duty of care to the consumer

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Consistency

- Judges need to apply the law consistently and use the same principles in similar cases

- Law must be common in all cases

- Lower courts must abide by the decisions from higher courts

- Distinguishing and overruling is only permitted by the very nature senior courts such as the Supreme Court

- When there is no precedent the judge must make a decision and give an original precedent

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Statutory Interpretation

- Alternative way a judge can make law is through statutory interpretation

- Judges in the superior courts are sometimes called upon to interpret words and phrases within a statute

- Have various rules and aids and have the ability to interpret in the way they see fit

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Whiteley v Chappell 1868

- Defendent pretended to be someone who had recently died in order to use that persons vote

- It was an offence to "personate any person entitled to vote"

- Court had held that becasue dead people cannot vote, the defendent was held not to have committed an offence

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