How does the UK legal system work? It may sound like a simple question but this does cover a lot of aspects of the law in the UK. It is also worth remembering there are differences in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, here this is a quick overview (we have gone into more detail in various aspects in previous articles and will do so in future articles.)


There are two main types of classification of UK law – criminal law is that which is prosecuted by the state and civil law concerns a case between two private parties. A good example of this would be if someone worked for a company, got injured at work and then sued the company they work for. There are occasions where this may cross over (for example, where negligence or manslaughter charges may be brought forward towards professionals).

It is also interesting to note that the UK’s legal style has carried over to other Commonwealth countries, so there are similarities in countries such as Australia and India.


The principle sources of UK law are statutes from parliament and devolved parliaments, what is often referred to as common law (statutes that have been put in place in the country since the 11th century) and laws derived from the European Union.

Legal personalities

Essentially under UK law only a person or corporation can be held liable and can be pursued.

Often where the case takes place can depend on the type of case. Typically a County Court will deal with claims of less than £25,000 (up to around £50,000) and the High Court will deal with cases of a higher value.

In the case of criminal law a case is brought against someone if they are arrested and the case is brought before the Crown Prosecution Service. The most serious cases (such as murder) are sent to the Crown Court. Punishments can vary from points on your license for driving offences through to fines and jail time (depending on the severity of the crime) go to my site.

In the event of a verdict being disputed it may be taken to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court.


Scotland is an interesting case in that initially its laws were developed separately from England. Once the crowns were unified in 1603 we then saw a more English style of law develop in the country.

As with England, Scotland does however have to follow EU law. However, there is a crucial difference in that acts passed in Scotland can be challenged in a way that they can’t in England.

Get help

As stated before this is a basic introduction to how the law works in the UK. There are variations and indeed some cases may vary depending on the seriousness of the offence caused.

This is why it is important to get appropriate legal advice. For more information contact Larcomes today on 023 9244 8100 and we will be happy to discuss a case with you so you can decide whether or not you want to pursue legal action further.