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4 An overview of the legal history of Scotland

To understand the current system of law making in Scotland it is helpful to know from where it originated. The law in Scotland has a complex history, and has been influenced by a wide range of sources. It has a distinct system from that in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, and remains so today. The distinction comes from both historical developments and the current procedures for law making.

Some of the earliest influences on legal Scotland included native customs, Norse law and We
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2 What is law?

This section will look at what we mean when we refer to ‘law’. What is ‘law’, how do we know it exists and how is it defined?

The ‘law’ is rarely out of the news and is often the focus for fictional drama, whether it is a television show depicting a police investigation, or one involving solicitors and advocates. It is something that touches our lives on a daily basis, it governs what we can and cannot do, it is used to settle disputes, to punish and to govern
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1.1 Reading

Activity 1: Reading unfamiliar information

0 hours 30 minutes

Read the extracts provided in Box 1 below. Don't worry i
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7 Review of the unit's learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to:

Part A

  • describe what is meant by a formal rule

  • identify a formal rule

  • describe the problems associated with rule making.

Part B

  • describe the relevance of policy for rule making

  • recognise differing reactions to Ireland's ban on smoking in the workplace

  • demo
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6.4 Summary of Part E

After studying Part E you should be able to:

  • explain what is meant by the application of rules;

  • read and make sense of a set of rules;

  • explain how and why different interpretive strategies may lead to different interpretations of a rule;

  • apply a set of rules to a set of facts.

6.3 The relationship between making, interpreting and applying rules

Although the processes of making, interpreting and applying rules can be explored separately, as we have done in this unit, it is important to realise that they are all part of one larger process. A new rule is often made because the interpretation and application of an existing rule does not solve the problems which that rule now has to confront. In turn, that new rule may be drafted in such a way that its interpretation leads to consequences that were unintended by the rule-maker, and the p
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6.2 Applying other people's rules

The process of interpretation is very closely related to that of application. The reason is simple – before applying a rule, the person applying it must interpret it to see whether the conduct in question is one to which the rule applies. Sometimes this will be straightforward, and sometimes not, as will be seen in Activity 7. The purpose of this activity is to provide you with an opportunity to explore the different ways in
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5.1 Introduction

We have seen some of the difficulties that Mrs Biggs has faced when formulating a sufficiently general and sufficiently specific rule to deal with the conduct of the visitors to her garden. In Part D we take things a step further by looking at some of the difficulties which may arise when it comes to interpreting rules such as the one developed (with your help) by Mrs Biggs. In particular, we will be exploring the way in which our understanding of the language used in rules affects our interp
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4.3 Summary of Part C

After studying Part C you should be able to:

  • explain the problems associated with formulating rules;

  • identify whether a rule is too specific;

  • identify whether a rule is too general;

  • identify solutions to a problem of rule formulation.

3.1 Introduction

Formal rules do not just appear from nowhere! In this part we will be exploring how such rules are the product of a process of policy making. As an example, we will be using the Irish Government's policy on banning smoking in the workplace, and the law which arose out of this policy. Part B will also provide you with an opportunity to apply some of the reasoning skills you have been developing by applying your understanding of the Irish law to some factual situations.

One of the most ob
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Summary of Part A

After studying Part A you should be able to:

  • describe what is meant by a formal rule;

  • identify a formal rule;

  • describe the problems associated with rule making.

4 Why do social workers need to know about the law?

From our discussion of social work and the meaning of law you will already have some answers to this question. We will now bring them together and relate them to wider debates about the content of the social work curriculum.

We have seen that there are few right answers in social work. However, if practitioners do not know where they stand legally they cannot begin to do their job properly because they will not be able to give appropriate advice and support to service users. They will a
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3.3 How is law made?

If you believe that laws are unjust in some way – perhaps because you regard them as being in conflict with our natural rights or consider that the rights they bestow do not adequately serve our interests – that does not alter their status as laws. The content of the law is decided by recognised law-making bodies in accordance with the rules of the constitution and the remedy for ‘unjust’ laws in a liberal democracy like the UK is to campaign to change them via the democratic pro
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3.1 The idea of law

As with social work, our ideas about law are shaped through a series of images and encounters, and these affect our expectations of law as an area of study. They also have an impact on our reaction to legal intervention, which we have seen is relevant to social work practice.

Figure 1
(© Scottish Consumer Coun
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Acknowledgements
Social work is a dynamic profession that is undergoing a period of significant change in Scotland. Social workers have the power to make assessments and decisions that radically alter people's lives. This unit introduces the law as it relates to social work and encourages an understanding of the context of the law in order to make sound decisions.
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4 Why do social workers need to know about the law?
Social work is a dynamic profession that is undergoing a period of significant change in Scotland. Social workers have the power to make assessments and decisions that radically alter people's lives. This unit introduces the law as it relates to social work and encourages an understanding of the context of the law in order to make sound decisions.
Author(s): The Open University

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Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see http://www.open.ac.uk/conditions terms and conditions), this content is made available under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2

3.3 How is law made?
Social work is a dynamic profession that is undergoing a period of significant change in Scotland. Social workers have the power to make assessments and decisions that radically alter people's lives. This unit introduces the law as it relates to social work and encourages an understanding of the context of the law in order to make sound decisions.
Author(s): The Open University

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3.2 Law in action vs law in books
Social work is a dynamic profession that is undergoing a period of significant change in Scotland. Social workers have the power to make assessments and decisions that radically alter people's lives. This unit introduces the law as it relates to social work and encourages an understanding of the context of the law in order to make sound decisions.
Author(s): The Open University

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2.3 Social work and social change
Social work is a dynamic profession that is undergoing a period of significant change in Scotland. Social workers have the power to make assessments and decisions that radically alter people's lives. This unit introduces the law as it relates to social work and encourages an understanding of the context of the law in order to make sound decisions.
Author(s): The Open University

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