Questions specific to England and Wales

England and Wales, along with Northern Ireland, follow the English system of common law, whereby laws are judge-made.

This is distinct from the legal system of Scotland, which is based on civil law with some elements of common law.

Judges sitting in court apply the doctrine of stare decisis or precedence, which is the principle that like cases should be judged alike - this helps to ensure reliability of the law, and fairness under the law.

Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom are binding on every other court, but not on itself. The House of Lords was previously the highest appeals court, until as recently as 1 October 2009.

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