IRISH & EU LAW
E-portfolio – Semester 1
Louis Parminter D11128128
Topic 1: Difference between Criminal and Civil Law
Reference: ‘Explaining the Courts – An Information Booklet’. Retrieved from www.courts.ie
Reflection: In our lecture of 16 September 2019 we spoke on the differences between Criminal Law and Civil Law, and were asked to research the difference between the two. The above booklet gives very clear and helpful information on this.
I have learned that Civil Law deals with matters between two or more private parties such as contract disputes, personal injury claims and other such claims where one of the parties feels they have suffered a loss. There is usually a single judge presiding and Civil cases are often used to pursue a financial settlement to the claim.
Criminal Law are prosecuted by the state, usually through the Office of the of Director of Public Prosecution. Criminal Law deals with such crimes for which the state has made provision for both the act itself and for the punishment including fines and / or custodial sentences.
Topic 2: Sources of Law
Reference: Keenan, A. (2012). Essentials of Irish business law (6th ed., pp. 2-14). Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.
Reflection: I followed up the lecture of 23 September 2019 on the Sources of Irish Law by reading the relevant section of Áine Keenan’s first chapter of Essentials of Irish Business Law. I cemented the knowledge learned in class with a clear understanding of the functions of law, the historical sources of law, and the five legal sources of law.
I learned that the law is ever changing depending on the values of the generation in which they apply. A good example of this would be the Marriage Act 2015 which allowed from 16 November 2015 for same-sex couples to be legally married and to have the same rights as opposite-sex marriages (www.citizensinformation.ie). Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Ireland in 1993 so it is a remarkable turnaround.
I learned that much of Irish law is based on the common law system derived from English Law, although since Irish independence in 1922 and the introduction of a written Irish Constitution in 1937 Irish law has developed its own characteristics. Common law itself though over the centuries had become rather complicated and its solutions very rigid. This led to the King creating the Court of Chancery to deal with unsatisfied pursuers of claims and this developed in to ‘equity’ which at its most basis means that what applies to one must apply to others. The King decided in 1615 that whenever the common law and equity law should clash, that equity should be used. This was more formally resolved in 1877 with the Judiciature (Ireland) Act 1877 which merged the two systems of law. And established a court structure with simpler procedures.
The five legal sources of law used now are:
1. Legislation either from previous statues or from the Oireachtas.
2. Subordinate legistation. This is legals rules under the authority of Government Ministers, Local Authorities or other bodies on the basis that the Government cannot spend all of its time working on every required ‘rule’ for society. It covers for instance dog fouling and littering.
3. The Irish Constitution 1937. The constitution deals with the structure of the state, the Oireachtas and the courts. It has a higher standing than other sources of law and may only be changed by a majority vote in a referendum.
4. European Union Law.
5. Judicial precedent or ‘stare decisis’ is the idea that previous decisions of the judiciary should stand unless overturned by a higher court, and that lower courts must abide by previously ruled on cases containing the same basic issues.