Judiciary and Civil Liberties

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Key Concepts


Judges and courts directly involved in making laws and politics. “3rd Branch of Government”.

Judicial Independence

               Members of the Judiciary are independent of political affiliations (parties/movements) and government influence.

Judicial Neutrality

               Members of the Judiciary avoid allowing political views affect decisions in cases.

Civil Liberties

               Rights and freedoms of citizens in relation to the state and its laws.

Rule of Law

               Principe that all citizens (incl. government) are equal and should be treated as under the law.

Key Definitions

Judicial Review

               Process whereby courts review decisions by the state/public body in relation to citizens. When outcomes show a citizen has been treated unfairly/abuse of rights, public body/government has exceeded legal powers, the court may set aside the decision.



Judiciary UK – with political significance.



High Court

Some appeals from lower courts; civil (private) disputes; judicial reviews concerning individuals and the state.

Court of Appeals

(Criminal Division)

Appeals from lower criminal courts; some from High Court.

Court of Appeals (Civil Division)

Appeals from count courts; High Court (incl. judicial review)

Supreme Court

Appeals from both appeal courts. Highest in UK.

European Court of Justice

Appeals on European Union Law.

European Court of Human Rights

Appeals on European Convention of Human Rights.

          Political Role

                              The judiciary (3rd Gov. Branch): administering justice in cases of political significance.


When the meaning of a statue is not clear, judges interpret the meaning.

Example: Powers of Government, rights of citizens.

Creating Case Law/Judge-Made Law

When an existing laws application in specific cases is not clear, judges make a decision which is expected to be enforced in similar future cases.

Example: Discrimination cases

Declaring Common Law

When there is no relevant statute law or clear common law to settle a dispute, judges must take evidence and decide what the common law is.

Example: Inheritance matters, commercial practises

Judicial Review

When a citizen/citizens believe they have been mistreated by government/Gov. Agencies, judges review the decisions made by those in question. Achieves 2 democratic objectives:

-        Ensures government does not overstep its powers (power check)

-        Asserts…


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