The Differences Between U.S. Law and English Law

December 10, 2021
By Aha! Creative

When I vacation in countries with the British legal system, I don’t go to the beach, I go to court.  I love to watch English barristers.  These people are Ladies and Gentlemen to a fault.  Quite polite but deadly effective.   

The judges are different also.  American judges generally apply the law like an umpire calling balls and strikes. English judges “sum up” the evidence and tell the jury why they think a witness should or should not be believed.  In America, the credibility of a witness is a question for the jury. 

Both countries find prior judicial opinions persuasive and sometimes binding on the case at hand. 

In the United States, lawyers who go to court to try cases are called “litigators” while in England those lawyers who try cases are barristers.   

In England, the lawyers who prepare documents are “solicitors” while in America they are known as corporate or transactional lawyers. 

In England, each has a different education. In America, all lawyers have about the same education and any lawyer can go to court, although there are various state requirements for lawyers in criminal cases involving the death penalty. 

Both America and England use “common law” and both use the “reasonable person” standard which is what a reasonable person in the same circumstances would do or have done compared to what the person did in the case being considered.    

Where the systems differ in a manner that is truly important is in the payment of attorney fees.  The American rule is that each party pays its own attorney.  In England, the loser pays both attorneys.  

That is why you see more slander and libel cases in England.  The attorney fees are enormous for the loser.   

Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated!  256-333-5000 

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