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4.2 out of 5 stars
21
The Law Machine
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on 16 February 2014
The book could do with another update to revise the changes particularly in regard to legal aid which has now been severely curtailed, direct access to barristers by members of the public and the introduction of the supreme court.

To it's credit the fundamental issues of justice it raises remain essentially the same and they are clearly and well presented.
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on 10 September 2010
Studying law at university is a daunting experience in itself let alone trying to get your head around the actual revision.

I purchased this book as I had to cover Legal Method and Skills as a module in my first year @ uni. This was a great reference point, to read over before certain lectures/seminars it helps reinstate what lecturers had been saying.

If you're in your first year of uni studying law, this is a really nice introduction into the world of the English Legal System which will form the foundation of your legal career.
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on 20 August 2006
"The Law Machine" by Marcel Berlins and Clare Dyer, is an introductory book regarding the law, which is an intrinsic part of a nation. Without having any prior legal knowledge of English legal system whatsoever, it gave me good groundings upon the everchanging respective field. For that reason, the book that is to be considered must be fully updated- that actually it was. Basically, inspired by a television programme, it explains The Criminal and Civil process of law, using the case portrayed in the television. The author explicitly enunciates the judicial hierarchy, and then goes on to describes the lawyers. The author has honestly touched every part of law from confused and struggling novice barristers to well-paid solicitors, and the dominancy of barristers in the judiciary. This was the first book I used for an introductory reading and it acquainted me with much of basic knowledge that I was lacking and most of my questions have been answered. The language used by the authors is generally simple, though the book sometimes seems to be a bit turgid. Nonetheless, the reason for which I bought the book, that is to gain an acquaintanceship with the English Legal System has been, without a doubt, been fulfilled. To be succinct, its a reliable introductory law book.
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on 11 November 2005
This is not a book for the advanced law student but why would they want it anyway. For those taking an A level or starting on a degree course it gives an excellent initial guide to the legal maze and will make further studies much easier. Its layout takes you through legal and civil case scenarios in a virtual story book form.Its a fairly east way to assimilate the basics of the English Legal System and I would definitely encourage the beginer to read it
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on 10 June 2007
After reading this book, I question how my ignorance regarding the law had managed to be so far-reaching! If you are looking for an in-depth discussion of the development of, and current, legal situation, this is not the book for you. By its own admission, it is intended purely as an introduction with aspects of development and explanation thrown in - but this is not a weakness of the book by any means. As a prospective law student, this book allowed me to begin to enter the world of the law, with all its manifest profundities and absurd historic quirks, and it is a world I look forward to learning more about.

I would recommend this book for anyone interested in how our society functions or for anyone about to be involved in legal proceedings (be they as a divorcee, defendant or accused!) It is written in a style that is easy to read and is supported by frequent examples and clarifications.

In summary, if you want a legal overview of the UK, buy this book.
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on 28 April 2001
Few writers manage accurately guide the reader through the maze that is the English Legal System. Perhaps, even fewer manage to present it in the logical and comprehensible manner that most, new, law students require. The Law Machine offers a complete overview of the English Legal System from the frontline Citizens Advice Bureaux to highest, domestic court, the House of Lords, It provides detailed factual information and well-reasoned critique of the issues and problems, that are continually moulding the development of our legal system. For me, the Law Machine's strength lies in the fact that unlike so many legal textbooks its not wholly rooted in the past. The Law machine looks to the future, to introduction of a Criminal Defence Service, the increasingly unsustainable split legal professions and the recent incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights. In essence, it is a book that is an invaluable introduction to the English Legal System, well-suited to students of A-Level law and law degree undergradutes. There's hope out there for all us law students and it begins here.
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on 29 August 2011
Very interesting book which was most helpful for when I acted for myself in legal matters and in court. Easy to read and understand. Delivery was quick and the book arrived in excellent condition.
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on 11 May 2011
THE LAW MACHINE was written by Marcel Berlins and Clare Dyer
The Law Machine was written first and foremost for laymen, individuals and institutions that do not know how the legal system operates. For this reason there is no doubt that everyone is entitled to benefit from this book. But for active lawyers in private or corporate practice it a detailed reminder; for students of law: academic, bar and law society it is an invaluable companion.
The authors were legal correspondents as well as practicing lawyers with varied experiences. Marcel was presenter of the London Weekend Television (LWT) series `The Law Machine' on which documentary the book was produced. The programme explained clearly how the British legal system worked using fictitious motor car accident driven by John Smith knocked down Anne Jones.
The incident had two legal consequences. The criminal prosecution for violating Road Traffic Act at the crown court, and civil suit at the High Court in tort of negligence resulting from breach of duty of care. While the former attracted criminal sanction of imprisonment or fine, the civil suit is/was meant to enable anyone (Anne) get damages for injuries suffered.
Though it was staged however professional lawyers acted as they normally would do in appropriate real life situation. The witnesses and jury were laymen who played similar roles in cases in court. The result was a thorough, clear and comprehensive guide on how a layman can understand and be able to describe the legal system.
Perhaps protocol was treated with levity when sitting judges including the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone were interviewed by LWT for this programme. As to whether the British legal system had attained the enviable height expected of it, he said if what was being celeberated is complacency "let us have more of it".
In chapter I the authors discussed how complex legal system could produce justice for all. The establishment of Citizens Advisory Bureaus and legal canters across the country were to enable ordinary Briton recover some compensation as Anne Jones was able to do in the LWT programme, the alternative would have been without any remedy.
The structure of courts and hierarchical significance were discussed by the authors in chapter II. Because of the ignorance of the law and apathy on the part of laymen the court is regarded as a place of drama and uncertainty. They quoted H.L. Mencken, American journalist who described a courtroom as a place where Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot would be equals, with the betting odds in favour of Judas. The authors used "simplified diagram of English Courts" for illustration.
There is a divided legal profession in Britain. The barristers are lawyers called to the bar who have audience in courts having been enrolled by any of the four Inns. There are on the other hand, solicitors who were trained to draft conveyances and legal documents and obtain briefs from litigants and pass them on to barristers of appropriate expertise to litigate. Litigants are not allowed to brief barristers directly. However, some legislation came into effect to make solicitors have audience in some courts; these solicitors have to display knowledge of High Court proceedings as well as courts where small claims are in issue. All these and more were discussed by the authors in chapter III. The attempt to fuse the two practices was made and law reform failed to take place even though a fused legal profession appeared to be in vogue across the world.
The British court judges are seen as enigma by ordinary Briton. Apart from the classes of judges and their emoluments which the authors displayed and attributed their aloofness, their training is also one of the factors which made it difficult for ordinary Briton to interact with judges. Equally important factor why judges are disconnected from the rest of the society is the role of an umpire they play. They have to be seen to maintain the independence of the institution they represent. Some of their decisions do lead to legal reform. In some cases changes are introduced as a result of their decisions. Part of judicial activities include plugging legislative loopholes where there is lacuna; in such rare cases they act as `law makers' even though judges like Lord Denning were criticized for usurping the role of the legislature.
Magistracy is one of the most important structure of British legal system and the authors dicussed this in chapter V. Interestingly there are fewer full-time stipendiary magistrates than unpaid part-time lay magistrates across the country. The rationale, their disqualification, gender balancing, recruitment, training, and the future of lay magistracy were fully discussed by the authors.
Perhaps the criminal justice system is the closest to ordinary individuals than any other. In chapter VI titled `Criminal Process' the authors captures the motor car accident involving John Smith and 25-year old Anne Jones who had just dropped her daughter Katy at school and was knocked down at Laurel Street T-junction.
The authors explained how civil litigation are processed in chapter VII by using Jane's misfortune and examined who should be responsible for the financial losses arising from the accident. There are different types of action, for instance Jane's action is in tort, precisely negligence. It is interesting to note the detailed role of solicitors in Jane's medical history and disposition to earn income, the role of insurance companies to settle out of court. Unfortunately Anne had to pursue her case to the bitter end after three-year trial with $43,612 as compensation. The chapter ended with the examination of possible reforms looking beyond British jurisdiction.
Divorce proceeding is a major civic litigation in Britain a lot of these proceedings derive from accident claims annually. The authors in chapter VIII estimated that 30,000 of such divorce proceedings yearly came after accident claims. The common thread in all of them is breach of contractor negligence. About 99% of divorce proceedings are undefended. Any defended proceeding would be transferred to High Court where litigation is expensive. An affidavit of evidence and statements is all the Registrar/court requires to proclaim decree nisi which lingers till 6 weeks after which decree absolute is made and parties became free to marry again. Agreement is required between the parties regarding properties and children and an order of court is made accordingly.
The measurement varies with circumstance of the parties and children; no hard and fast rule, however in 1973 Lord Denning's judgment created a precedent of a third of the value of the couple's property, but over the years courts have changed the one-third because of supplementary benefit, increased income, children's maintenance etc of parties.

The Law Machine
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on 24 March 2003
'The Law Machine' a book which is now in its fifth edition was originally developed from the television series 'The Law Machine' which was broadcasted in the early eighties. The concept was that real and professional barristers, solicitors and even Judges carried out their normal duties, within a fictitious legal story, with actors playing the victims, witnesses and culprits of civil and criminal battles.
Unfortunately, the book has very little relevance to the actual television series, which was there to give the public a special insight into the impact of true law.
If you're a person already interested in reading about the law, especially for educational purposes, whether it is, at A-level or degree standard, this is a book, which will undoubtedly disappoint you from the outset. The book would be more suitable for a person, whom has no or very little knowledge of the law, and wants to get a taster for the wonderful, intriguing and convoluted aspects of the English Legal System. It does however still hold a refreshing approach into introducing the law to beginners who do not wish to learn about it academically.
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on 28 April 2001
Few writers manage accurately guide the reader through the maze that is the English Legal System. Perhaps, even fewer manage to present it in the logical and comprehensible manner that most, new, law students require. The Law Machine offers a complete overview of the English Legal System from the frontline Citizens Advice Bureaux to highest, domestic court, the House of Lords, It provides detailed factual information and well-reasoned critique of the issues and problems, that are continually moulding the development of our legal system. For me, the Law Machine's strength lies in the fact that unlike so many legal textbooks its not wholly rooted in the past. The Law machine looks to the future, to introduction of a Criminal Defence Service, the increasingly unsustainable split legal professions and the recent incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights. In essence, it is a book that is an invaluable introduction to the English Legal System, well-suited to students of A-Level law and law degree undergradutes. There's hope out there for all us law students and it begins here.
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