The law society
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The law & society. Commerce Stage 5 Core Part 2.1. Syllabus Agenda. The legal framework reasons for laws the legal system court structure juries Areas of law classifying laws how laws are made common law statute law constitutions

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The law society

The law & society

Commerce Stage 5

Core Part 2.1


Syllabus agenda

Syllabus Agenda

  • The legal framework

    • reasons for laws

    • the legal system

    • court structure

    • juries

  • Areas of law

    • classifying laws

    • how laws are made

    • common law

    • statute law

    • constitutions

    • the relationship of laws to values, morals and ethics

    • how laws are changed

  • Using the legal system

    • accessing the law

    • cost

    • time

    • procedures

    • language

    • issues of fairness in using the law


The legal framework

The Legal Framework


Lingo list

Lingo List

  • Anarchy

    • When there is no law or government, people are free to do as they please and society is unable to function.

  • Burden of proof

    • The legal principle that the prosecution must prove that the accused is guilty of the crime.

  • Case

    • A proceeding in a court of law.

  • Fundamental rights

    • Those rights to which every human is entitled.

  • Indictable Offences

    • Serious offences that require a full trial with a jury. Examples are armed robbery, murder and serious drug offences

  • Judge

    • A highly trained legal professional who presides over District, Supreme and High Courts. The judge’s role is to advise the jury and pass the sentence.


Lingo list cont

Lingo list (cont.)

  • Jury

    • A group of people chosen randomly from the community to determine the guilt or non-guilt of the accused in serious criminal law matters.

  • Legally binding decision

    • An order that is given by a court and must be followed.

  • Natural justice

    • The right to be treated fairly in legal matters.

  • Presumption of innocence

    • The belief that a party accused of a crime is innocent unless it is proven that the party has committed the crime.

  • Summary offences

    • Less serious crimes that are dealt with by the Local Court. An example is shoplifting.


Reasons for laws

Reasons for laws

  • Laws exist to regulate our society.

  • They are designed to protect us and our property and to ensure that everyone in society behaves the way the community expects them to.

  • Without laws there would be anarchy


How do laws affect us

How do laws affect us?

  • Laws and rules influence every aspect of our life−from cradle to grave.

  • When a child is born, the parents are required to register the birth.

  • A person’s death must also be registered.

  • And all the things in between – marriage, divorce, change of name etc.

  • Laws and rules govern our behaviour throughout life. When we do not comply with them there are consequences.


Activity parents rules

Activity: Parents rules

  • Write down 3 rules that your parents have for you.

  • Pair up with the person next to you, share with them your rules

    • Are they fair?

    • Can you easily meet the guidelines they have set?

    • What are the consequences for not meeting the rules

  • Share 2 of the rules from your pairing with the rest of the class


What would happen if there were no rules in your house

What would happen if there were no rules in your house?

  • Are rules (laws) good or bad?


The courts

THE COURTS

  • Australia has a hierarchical court system.

  • This means that the courts are graded into inferior and superior courts

  • Each of the courts deals with different matters and has certain powers.

  • Within the courts there are various professionals who ensure the smooth running of cases.

  • Each person in the legal system has a particular task to fulfil.


More about the courts

More about the courts

  • For many legal matters the courts are the final place to resolve legal disputes, not the first.

  • Courts are expensive and time-consuming places to have legal problems resolved.

  • Therefore, people are encouraged to use all their other legal options first.

  • However, when all else fails the courts can be used to reach a legally binding decision that must be obeyed.


Nsw courts

NSW courts

  • In Australia most legal matters are the responsibility of state governments, therefore most of our courts are state courts.

  • New South Wales, like all the other states, has a hierarchical court structure.

  • This means that courts are ‘ranked’.

  • The position of a court within the hierarchy indicates the type of case that will be dealt with by the court.

  • There are three main tiers within the hierarchy:

    • inferior = Local Court

    • intermediate = District Court

    • superior = Supreme Court


Local court

Local court

  • The Local Court is the lowest court and is often called the Magistrates Court as it is presided over by a magistrate and aims to deal with matters quickly and cheaply.

  • It deals with all minor criminal matters (known as summary offences) and conducts committal proceedings for serious matters (known as indictable offences).

  • The aim of these proceedings is for the police to demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence to show that there is a case to answer.

  • If the magistrate considers there is sufficient evidence then the case will be scheduled for a trial in a higher court.

  • The Local Court also hears relatively minor civil matters, such as debt claims. Matters of more than $3000 but less than $40 000 will be heard in the Local Court.


District court

District court

  • Is a more senior court

  • Is presided over by a judge.

  • It deals with serious criminal and civil law matters.

  • In Criminalmatters the District Court conducts trials that include a juryof 12 people.

  • Civil law matters involving between $40 000 and $750 000 and any matter involving compensation for motor vehicle accidents are dealt with by the District Court.

  • Matters involving more than $750 000 must be heard in the Supreme Court .


Supreme court

Supreme court

  • The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state hierarchy.

  • It hears the most serious cases and those that involve difficult points of law.

  • The Supreme Court of each state is a court of record. This means that its decisions can create common law.

  • The consequence of common law is that when the judge makes a decision in relation to the matter, all lower courts must follow the decision


The high court of australia

The high court of Australia

  • Is the most senior court in Australia.

  • Its main role is to ensure that law-makers do not breach the constitution

  • It hears appeals from the lower courts.

  • A decision made in a less senior court can be appealed to a more senior court.

    • For example, a Local Court decision can be appealed to the District Court and so on.

  • The High Court acts as the last court of appeal.

  • The right of appeal is not automatic and application to the court must be made.

  • The court will consider whether there are grounds for an appeal.


Court personnel

Court personnel

  • Judges / magistrates

  • Lawyers

  • Jurors


Judges

judges

  • Judges sit in the District, Supreme and High Courts and in some specialist courts, such as the Family Court.

  • They are referred to as ‘Your Honour’ and they usually have considerable legal experience.

  • Criminal cases in these courts involve juries, whose task is to determine whether a person is guilty. The role of the judge is to instruct the jury on legal matters and, if the jury finds the accused guilty, impose a sentence.

  • In civil matters where a jury is involved the judge fulfils a similar role


Magistrates

magistrates

  • Are the presiding officers of the court.

  • Magistrates preside over local courts and, except in New South Wales, are referred to as ‘Your Honour’.

  • In a criminal law matter their role is to determine whether the accused person is guilty of a crime.

    • If the accused is found guilty, the magistrate issues a sentence.

  • In civil law matters the magistrate must arrive at a verdict and then decide on what compensation, if any, should be made.


Lawyers

lawyers

  • n every case there are two opposing legal teams.

  • In criminal cases the role of the prosecutoris to prove to the court that the accused person has committed a crime and should be punished.

  • The defence lawyer is there to help the accused person show the court that he or she is innocent or, if the accused is shown to be guilty, to minimise the sentence imposed by the court.


The jury

The jury

  • Juries date back to medieval England when villagers were given the opportunity to pass judgment on their peers.

  • In the Australian legal system the jury consists of a group of 12 adults who are drawn at random from the community.

  • The role of the jury is to determine whether an accused person is guilty of a crime.

  • In order to convict a person, the jury must be satisfied that the evidence presented to them shows that the person is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    • This means that if a juror (a member of the jury) has some doubt about the accused person’s guilt, then the juror must find the accused not guilty of the charges.

  • Juries are used in all criminal trials (cases heard in the District or Supreme Courts).

  • They have no role in passing a sentence.

  • In some serious civil matters, juries of four or six people are sometimes used.

  • In cases tried in NSW courts, the jury must either be unanimous (all agree) or vote 11 to 1 in order for a verdict to be made

  • If the verdict is not unanimous, the judge will order a new trial with a different jury.


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