28/04/2020

Changing the law; landmark court cases

The law is designed to serve justice, but it is not set in stone and can change. Landmark court cases are those which challenge expected outcomes and lead to changes in legislation.

One landmark court case was the Belmarsh decision in 2004. In a battle between national security or civil liberties, either outcome would have far-reaching implications. In this case, the right to indefinitely detain terror suspects without charge was denied, placing human rights over the law of the land.

In 1931, William Herbert Wallace was convicted of murdering his wife, this was the first conviction to be overturned by the Court of Criminal appeal. It paved the way in future cases where someone has been falsely accused and acquitted.

A negligence case: Donoghue V Stevenson in 1932 is a favourite of Law students. It is memorable because the case focused around the discovery of a snail in a bottle of ginger beer. Although this may seem absurd, the judge’s final comments have impacted on multiple cases since.

What skills are required for a criminal justice career?

Learning and referencing case law is an essential element of working in a legal profession. This is not merely a requirement of a Law degree course; it will inform every case in your career. For this reason, natural curiosity and interest in legal history are fundamental.

Research and critical thinking can be solitary activities, yet a criminal justice career also demands considerable interpersonal skills.

Legal professionals are advocates for their clients. They must build rapport and trust to uncover critical details that will inform the case and be competent communicators who excel in strong and emotive presentation, along with possessing fierce negotiation skills.

Putting legal skills to the test

At the University of Bolton, we have invested £100,000 in a dedicated moot courtroom, providing our Law students with a realistic setting to debate cases. These facilities ensure that our legal students can hone their skills and be prepared to apply the principles that underpin the law.

We have strong links with legal firms, which offer work shadowing placements and guest speakers. We are also home to the Centre for Contemporary Coronial Law.

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