The Kingdom of Sable



The Sable Judiciary

There are two legal codes within the Kingdom of Sable: Civil Law and Criminal Law. The courts make decisions on an adversarial rather than an inquisitorial basis, with the prosecution and defence testing the credibility and reliability of the evidence presented to the court. The judge (and jury) makes decisions based on the evidence presented.

Civil Law is concerned mostly with disputes between individuals or corporate bodies. Cases must be proved on the balance of probabilities (more than a 50 per cent probability that the defendant is liable) rather than the 'beyond reasonable doubt' standard applied in criminal cases. Most civil disputes do not go to court at all, and most of those which do, do not reach a trial. Many are dealt with through statutory or voluntary complaints mechanisms, or through mediation and negotiation.

Criminal Law covers cases where an offence has been committed. If the police charge someone with a criminal offence, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), under the Director of Public Prosecutions, may decide to prosecute. The CPS may proceed with prosecution if there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each defendant on each charge and it is in the public interest. Depending on the severity of the charge, it will then go either to Magistrate's Court or to trial by jury at a Crown Court. In jury trials, the judge decides questions of law, sums up the case and discharges or sentences the accused. Most often, sentences include fines and or imprisonment, although the potential to impose the death penalty does exist for exceptionally serious crimes, such as espionage, treason, piracy with violence and arson in a Royal dockyard, as well as certain forms of murder:

The Lord Chief Justice is the Head of the Sable Judiciary, as well as sitting in the Cabinet. This position is currently held by Sir Allan Thorne, OM.

The Sable Judiciary works on a four-tier system:

Magistrate's Courts

Magistrates' Courts deal with civil and lesser criminal cases, and are usually made up of three people from the local community who have no professional legal qualifications. These are known as lay magistrates or justices of the peace (JPs), and receive training to give them sufficient knowledge of the law, and of the nature and purpose of sentencing, for them to undertake their responsibilities. They can also make recommendations as to whether a minor criminal case (e.g. theft, burglary) should be sent for trial by jury. A court clerk advises them on law and procedure. In addition, anyone accused of a criminal offence has the right to ask to be tried by a jury, whereupon their case is sent to the (usually) nearest Crown Court. Many smaller towns have Magistrate's Courts.

Crown Courts

Crown Courts predominantly deal with criminal trials, although very occasionally a civil case will be referred to Crown Court if a jury is deemed to be required. All serious crimes (e.g. murder, manslaughter, robbery, rape, serious assault) are tried before a jury of twelve men and women aged between 21 and 150, and verdicts (guilty or not-guilty) must be reached by a majority of at least ten to two. An accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the defendant pleads guilty, the judge will simply decide upon the appropriate sentence. Crown Courts are located in larger towns and in cities.

The High Court

The High Court is located in Sable City, and primarily deals with substantial and complex civil cases, and high-profile criminal cases. It also acts as the first stage for hearing appeals against convictions from either Magistrate's or Crown Courts.

The Law Lords

The highest body of appeal is to the Law Lords, a group of five senior judges, all of whom sit in the House of Peers. The Lord Chief Justice is the most senior of these, and normally serves a ten-year term in that position, after which he or she steps down from the group, although they will remain in the House of Peers. Law Lords who do not become Chief Justice will remain part of the appeal body for a period of fifteen years, before they, too, step down. It is possible for them to be reappointed after a suitable time has elapsed, although they can never serve as Chief Justice more than once. The Law Lords are appointed by His Majesty.