Western Legal Tradition

Topics: Common law, Law, United Kingdom Pages: 4 (1192 words) Published: August 24, 2013
To what extent did the concepts and institutions of the western legal tradition influence the colony of New South Wales and, ultimately, the development of the Australian legal system? Australia inherited a legal system and a system of government from its colonial power, Britain. An understanding of Australian law requires tracing of development of law and legal institutions in England. Britain shares many of the basic concepts of law found in other parts of Western Europe. The underlying concepts and principles of law of Western Europe are generally referred to as ‘Western Legal Tradition’. Western legal tradition along with English law greatly impacted the legal system in the colony of New South Wales. This essay will explore the influence of western legal tradition on the legal system of New South Wales leading to the development of Australia’s own legal system. Overview of the western legal tradition and its significance to Australian law There are two distinct systems of law in the western legal tradition despite sharing similar philosophical underpinnings. Britain follows the common law and the continental Europe follows civil law. These two systems represent a single western tradition, with a shared understanding that law has a central role to play in all social organisations. It has three main characteristics, a) the autonomy of law - it remains differentiated from politics, religion and morality; b) the centrality of law - law as a means of social ordering and change pervades in all aspect of society; and c) moral authority of law - law is respected, i.e. law should be obeyed as a positive obligation and not for fear of punishment. British concepts and institutions

Many of the legal concepts and institutions like the rule of law, trial by jury, parliamentary sovereignty, representative and responsible government (the parliamentary democracy), judicial independence and many more originated in medieval English history following the Norman...
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