us law vs uk law

Right is right and wrong is wrong, right? Well, kind of. You can probably name a few obvious examples of what’s “good” and what’s “bad.” But the law sees it a bit differently.

We’ve covered a few legal topics here on Versus All.  And as a result, we’ve had some questions from readers about US law vs UK law. What’s the difference? Do they do things differently “over there?” Let’s look at US vs UK law and how they differ.

US Law vs UK Law

America is really no more than a bunch of very aged British colonies, so the laws are pretty much the same, right?

Not exactly. Both US law and UK law have evolved and changed over hundreds of years. The US, as you know, uses the Constitution as the basis for its laws. As new court cases come up, the Constitution is interpreted in different ways.

The same is true in the UK. Laws have been changed over time on, literally, a case by case difference. Some of the laws which were in effect when a few hundreds of years ago are completely changed now.

So what’s the difference between US law vs UK law? Have the legal systems changed the laws so much that the United States and the United Kingdom are completely different from one another? Let’s take a quick look!

Major Differences Between UK Law and US Law

Again, good is usually good and bad is, well… illegal. But there are a few differences between the way the law is handled in the UK and in the US.

Attorneys

In the United States, if you’re arrested you have the option to hire an attorney. In some cases, you may have an attorney who is appointed to represent you by the court system. Attorneys are also called lawyers.

In the United Kingdom, you have the right to counsel as well. In fact, the United Kingdom guaranteed rights to counsel long before that right was given to American citizens. In the United Kingdom, you may hear representation referred to as barristers or solicitors.

Juries

You’ve probably seen it on television. The jury selection process is pretty involved. First, the court system sends out a jury duty summons to a large pool of people. Those people arrive at the courthouse on the date specified, where the lawyers for both the defendant and the plaintiff decide which of those candidates will serve.

In the United Kingdom, they keep it simple. Basically, if you’re between the ages of 18 and 70, you may be selected. Your name can be randomly “drawn” and once it is, you’re serving. There are a few ways you can be excused, but you’d better have a darn good reason.

The Law Itself

If you ask anyone from another country, they’ll tell you that the United States is a very litigious nation. We love our lawsuits – from spilled coffee to a trip in Walmart, it seems everyone’s looking to sue someone else.

In the United States, we’ve got lawyers who specialize in that sort of thing. For example, Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC is a personal injury attorney who focuses primarily on things like medical malpractice, wrongful death and even “slip and fall” accidents.

In the UK, you’ll still find solicitors who focus on wrongful death and the like. However, while there’s a huge market for the service in the United States, that type of contentious lawsuit is just not as common in the United Kingdom.

There are, of course, other differences between US law vs UK law. But overall, as our law is directly descended from British law, the general principles are the same.

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