A magistrate is a person who acts as a judge in the lower courts of the UK judicial system. They are not legally trained but mostly volunteers who receive an allowance for loss of earnings, mileage and subsistence; which are at a standardized rate set by the Justice Ministry. Magistrates are governed by an act of parliament known as The Magistrates’ Court Act of 1980. They have the power to hear a case and also decide if the person is guilty and at the same time pass sentence (Rees, 2001). Magistrates can only sentence an offender to a maximum of six months imprisonment for a single offence or twelve months for multiple offences. The magistrates’ court handles over 90% of criminal cases in the UK. Magistrates have power to issue search warrant under the Theft Act 1968, Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and racially inflammatory material under Public Order act 1986.  A magistrate should be of good character, understanding, and good communicator, mature, committed and of good common sense (Bertelsen, 2006).


Legislation is the process or act of making a set of laws by the legislative arm of country /state. The UK has two main types of Legislations:

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  • Primary legislation

These are acts of parliament or statutes. The UK has two types of statutes.

Public General Act:  explanatory notes to state clearly what the act sets to achieve.

Local and personal acts- these are Acts which affect a particular locality or body (Sullivan, 2011).

Examples of primary legislation

The Bribery Act 2010 (c.23). This act repeals the previous common and statutory laws in connection to bribery, and replacing them with crimes of foreign officials, bribery, and failure of a commercial organization to prevent bribery on its behalf. In Vauxhall Estates In Ltd v Liverpool Corporation (1932), it was held that certain provisions of the Housing act 1925 prevailed over a section of the Acquisition of Land Act 1919 although the latter states that any future Act inconsistent with its provisions shall not have effect.

  • Secondary legislation

Statutory instrument is a term that is used for orders, regulations, codes and rules. They are mostly made by ministers under power delegated by parliament (Sullivan, 2011). Example of secondary legislation is “Dangerous Drugs, - Draft misuse of drugs act 1971(Amendment) Order 2012”

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