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Should Sarah smack her child?
This RLO explores the ethical dimension and different views surrounding the use of mild smacking as a means of punishment. Should Sarah smack her child? This RLO introduces you to a range of stakeholders with differing viewpoints and allows you to record your own responses to their opinions.
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12 More information about W150 An introduction to law in contemporary Scotland

This unit has been been designed as a taster for the Open University's short course W150 An introduction to law in contemporary Scotland. Over four months the course covers a range of topics which introduce students to law making in Scotland, the structure of the Scottish court system, court procedure before moving on to look at some specific areas of law: Child Law, Employment Law, Human Rights and Unlawful Conduct.

The purpose of the course is to provide an overview of contempo
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11 How can a citizen become involved in this law making process?

As one of our constitutional duties citizens are expected to vote in Parliamentary elections. Both MSPs and MPs are elected. In voting in those elections a citizen is becoming involved in law making (even though they may not realise this).

The Scottish Parliamentary process has been designed to be as open as possible. This is reflected not only in the procedures that have been established, but also in the design of the Parliament building itself. The debating chamber, which was central
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7.3 Procedure by which Bills become law

In order to become an Act of Parliament, a Bill will have to be passed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. A Bill may start in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, with the exception of Finance Bills, which always start in the House of Commons. A Finance Bill is introduced by the Government shortly after the Budget to bring the Government's tax proposals into law.

Before the Bill can become an Act of Parliament it must undergo a number of stages.


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7.1 Reserved and devolved matters

As stated earlier, the UK Parliament can still legislate on reserved matters and also on devolved matters, with the agreement of the Scottish Parliament. This section looks at the law making process at Westminster. It is a very different process, which involves both the Houses of the Westminster Parliament.

An Act of the UK Parliament also starts off as a Bill, which, if approved by a majority in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, will become an Act of the Westminster Parliame
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6.7 Royal Assent

Section 32 of the Scotland Act provides that a Bill, once passed, must be submitted for Royal Assent. This is done after a period of four weeks. During that time, the Bill is subject to legal challenge by the Advocate General for Scotland, the Lord Advocate or the Attorney General, and may also be subject to an order made by the Secretary of State. The Presiding Officer may, however, submit the Bill for Royal Assent after less than four weeks if notified by all three Law Officers and the Secr
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3.4 Summary of Part B

After studying Part B you should be able to:

  • describe the relevance of policy for rule making;

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

  • demonstrate/explain the implications of the rules governing Ireland's ban on smoking in the workplace.

3.2 The policy behind Ireland's ban on smoking in the workplace

In order to explore these issues, we are going to look at the introduction of a rule in the Republic of Ireland – the ban on smoking in places where people work which was introduced in 2004. What I would like you to do first is to think about your own position on this subject. The purpose of the next activity is to provide you with an opportunity to think about your own attitudes to a particular kind of behaviour which many people feel should be subject to legal control. It is useful to wor
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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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5 Conclusion

Social work and law are both contested concepts, open to a range of possible meanings, depending on their context and the source of their definition. An understanding of these competing meanings is essential to good professional practice and provides a foundation for examining the relationship between social work and the law which is central to this unit. The relationship between social work and the law is subject to change, as the organisation and delivery of social care services attempts to
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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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8.3 Issues and concerns about RFID
Are you a technophobe? Bluetooth, Ethernet WiFi – are they terms that mean nothing to you? This unit will gently guide you to an understanding of how devices 'talk' to each other and what technologies and processes are involved. You will also look at wired and wireless communication technologies, introducing you to some of the key methods involved.
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4.1 Introduction

You cannot cite precedents to a judge and ask him or her to follow them if you don't have a good record of all the earlier cases and how they were decided. The operation of binding precedent, therefore, relies on the existence of an extensive reporting service to provide access to previous judicial decisions.

This section will briefly set out where you might locate case reports on particular areas of the law. This is of particular importance to advocates (usually barristers but s
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3.5 Summary of Part B

In Part B you have learned that:

  • the system of precedent requires later courts to use the same reasoning as an earlier court, where two cases raise the same legal issues;

  • the contents of a case report can be divided into two categories:

    • ratio decidendi – the statement of legal principles essential to the decision. The ratio is the binding element of the case


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3.4.3 Summary of binding precedent

In this section you have seen:

  • that not everything in a court case sets a precedent

  • the difference between ratio decidendi (the statement of legal principles material to the decision) and obiter dictum (the discussion of legal principles raised in argument but not material to the decision)

  • that the binding element in a future case is the ratio and that, while the obiter will never be bindin
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3.4.2 Distinguishing

In comparison with the mechanism of overruling, which is rarely used, the main device for avoiding binding precedent is that of distinguishing. As has been previously stated, the ratio decidendi of any case is based upon the material facts of the case. This opens up the possibility that a court may regard the facts of the case before it as significantly different from the facts of a cited precedent, so it will not find itself bound to follow that precedent. Judges use the device of dis
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3.4.1 Overruling

Overruling is the procedure whereby a court higher up in the hierarchy sets aside a legal ruling established in a previous case.

It is strange that, within the system of stare decisis, precedents gain increased authority with the passage of time. As a consequence, courts tend to be reluctant to overrule longstanding authorities even though they may no longer accurately reflect contemporary practices or morals. While old principles are not usually good in dentistry or computer sci
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3.4 Binding precedent

Not everything in a court case sets a precedent. The contents of a case report can be divided into two categories:

  • 1. The reason for the decision – ratio decidendi

  • The ratio decidendi of a case is not the actual decision, like ‘guilty’ or ‘the defendant is liable to pay compensation’. The precedent is set by the rule of law used by the judge or judges in deciding the legal problem raised by the facts
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3.3.6 Summary of the system of precedent

The basis of the system of precedent is the principle of stare decisis and this requires a later court to use the same reasoning as an earlier court where the two cases raise the same legal issues. For example:

  • House of Lords’ decisions are binding on all other courts in the legal system, except the House of Lords itself.

  • The Court of Appeal is bound by previous decisions of the House of Lords. The Court of Appeal generally i
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