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How Does the Independence of the Judiciary Contribute to the Rule of Law in the United Kingdom?

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It is vitally important in a democracy that individual judges and the judiciary as a whole are impartial and independent of all external pressures and of each other so that those who appear before them and the wider public can have confidence that their cases will be decided fairly and in accordance with the law. When carrying out their judicial function they must be free of any improper influence

Such influence could come from any number of sources. It could arise from improper pressure by the executive or the legislature, by individual litigants, particular pressure groups, the media, self-interest or other judges, in particular more senior judges.

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Such an approach differs markedly from the tradition of the rule of law in the United Kingdom, in leading common law jurisdictions, including the United States, and in almost all European countries. Our Government, as part of its foreign policy, supports the promotion of the ideal of the rule of law. Judicial independence is a critical component of that rule, as we see it in the West. In our tradition, impartial adjudication by the judiciary requires the separation of powers. In our modern history the executive organs of the State have been subjected to the rule of law by, among others, an independent judiciary. It is accepted in our society that the rule of law requires there to be judicial independence

But we must ask, “independence from whom?” In view of its power over the judiciary, which it funds and whose judgments it enforces, the most obvious candidate against whom independence is asserted is the executive branch of government. But judges also need to act independently of parliamentarians, the media, pressure groups and powerful individuals or corporate organisations. Judges take a judicial oath to “do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.” To do right, that is to decide cases impartially and in accordance with the law, judges must be independent of all litigants and also of all who might directly or indirectly seek to influence the outcome of a legal action, including their fellow judges who are not sitting on the particular case. Historically, the judiciary was not independent of the executive. Last year, we celebrated the anniversary of Magna Carta. It is a document about which myths have developed. I do not see much support in the history of the thirteenth century for the view that judicial independence is the direct product of that famous document.

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From the 12th century, English law has been referred as a common law instead of civil law (Riches 97 par.5). The above imply that the law has not been collected or restated with respect to its legal codes. Therefore, its judicial precedents are obligatory. During the prime periods of English common law, justices and adjudicators were accountable for adjusting the system of injunctions to satisfy everyday requirements

Through this, they used a combination of precedent and common sense to create up a structure of internally reliable law. In England and Wales, adjudicators through judgments of courts and related hearings that resolve discrete cases produce the common law. Common laws are opposed to statutes, which are approved through the parliamentary procedure or protocols dispensed by the executive branch. A “common law system” is an authorized structure, which offers a great importance on common law (Riches 157 par.9). The above protocol dictates that dependable doctrines applied to analogous evidence should yield comparable results. The frame of earlier common law obligates judges who come up with future verdicts, in the same way any other law does, to safeguard consistent treatment. The concept of binding precedent is fundamental in the court structure in England and Wales. The principle refers to the fact that in the hierarchical assembly of courts in England and Wales, a verdict of a higher court is binding on a lesser court (James 56 par. 9). When adjudicators adjudicate issues, they will investigate if a comparable condition has earlier come before a court.

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In summary, different nations deal with the idea of judicial independence through different means of judicial selection, or choosing judges

One way to promote judicial independence is by granting life tenure or long tenure for judges, which ideally frees them to decide cases and make rulings according to the rule of law and judicial discretion, even if those decisions are politically unpopular or opposed by powerful interests. But they may have conflicts with republicanism and they could support it.

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Adams, Alix. Law For Business Students. Harlow, England: Pearson Longman, 2008. Print.

Arnold, William. “The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom: Something Old and Something New”’. Commonwealth Law Bulletin 36.3 (2010): 443-451. Print.

James, Adrian. “Children, the Uncrc, And Family Law In England And Wales”. Family Court Review 46.1 (2007): 53-64. Print.

Riches, Sarah. Keenan And Riches’ Business Law. Harlow, England: Pearson Education UK, 2013. Print.

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