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Legal aspects of fitness for work 

Legal aspects of fitness for work
Chapter:
Legal aspects of fitness for work
Author(s):

Gillian S. Howard

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199643240.003.0002
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date: 12 December 2017

The English legal system is based on the common law. The common law system in England and Wales developed from the decisions of judges whose rulings over the centuries have created precedents for other courts to follow and these decisions were based on the ‘custom and practice of the Realm’. The system of binding precedent means that any decision of the Supreme Court—the new name for the former House of Lords (the highest court in the UK)—will bind all the lower courts, unless the lower courts are able to distinguish the facts of the current case and argue that the previous binding decision cannot apply, because of differences in the facts of the two cases. However, since the UK joined the European Union (EU), the decisions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) now supersede any decisions of the domestic courts and require the English national courts to follow its decisions. (Scotland has a system based on Dutch Roman law, and some procedural differences although no fundamental differences in relation to employment law.) The Human Rights Act 1998 became law in England and Wales in 2000 (and in Scotland in 1998) in order to incorporate the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. The two most important Articles applicable to employment law are Article 8(1), the right to respect for privacy, family life, and correspondence, and Article 6, the right to a fair trial.

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