Comparing the Legal Systems of the United States and the United Kingdom

Lawyers are likely aware that legal systems in the United Kingdom and the United States share the same historical roots of common law, and for that reason, are quite similar. However, this article will provide an overview of some of the main differences between the two countries so that lawyers have an idea of how the United States, as well as the main subdivisions of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), have their own laws, judicial systems and bar associations. The judicial systems of both countries are quite similar. Misdemeanors and small civil disputes are dealt with by courts of first instance responsible for resolving such conflicts.

The most serious crimes and civil cases in both countries are then subject to a hierarchy of three courts. Cases begin in lower courts (Crown Court in the United Kingdom). It is important to note that the United States does not have a “judicial system” like the United Kingdom. However, there are specialized courts for certain types of cases (for example, the bankruptcy court is a different type of federal court).

This often provides a less expensive, more streamlined and less confrontational way of concluding conflicts. Like the courts in the United Kingdom, the United States mainly relies on previous court rulings as an authorized precedent when resolving disputes. When it comes to legislation, the United States has two centralized federal bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate (together, known as the Congress), which are similar to the houses of Parliament. Each of the 50 states of the United States has two senators, while representatives are assigned proportionally based on the population of each state.

For it to become law in the United States, if the president refuses to enact the bill, his veto can be overturned by a two-thirds majority in Congress. Unlike in the United Kingdom, all prospective lawyers in the United States take a three-year course at an accredited law school and receive a doctorate in law (J. D.). Then, students must pass the bar exam in the state of their choice.

After obtaining their license, they can generally practice law in any field of their choice. As you can see, although there are some differences between legal systems in both countries, they are more similar than different. We hope that this publication can serve as a basic guide so that lawyers can get an idea of how these two systems compare.

John Baker
John Baker

Subtly charming music aficionado. Hardcore beer guru. Proud pizza fan. Hipster-friendly beer advocate. Incurable pizza nerd. Typical pop culture expert.

Leave Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *