Tuesday, 29 September 2009

God bless England!

Last year, when I was still in France, I started a course in international trade. The title of that course may sound interesting, but after a few weeks I found it really boring, that was just not for me. However, it has not been a total waste of time, since I have learnt quite a bit about French law. I thought that I could re-use it for the journalism course. I didn't realise at that time how wrong I was. It is unbelievable how England wants to be different from other countries, and especially from France!

Good for me, because it makes life much easier. Yes, French people enjoy having complicated administration, and, being a French citizen, I had never realised that everything could actually be simpler. Some of you may not completely understand what I really mean, so let's take an example: in England, there are four different kinds of court (Magistrates courts, Crown court, County Courts and High Court) whereas in France, there are eight courts, all specialised in different areas (crime, offences, administration, work issues, family issues, commerce, money matters etc.) Needless to say I have simplified the scheme to make it shorter. Now you can imagine how pleased I was when I found out that the English system was actually not that complex! Let's hope that the rest is going to be as simple as that. Honestly, I doubt it.


Chris Horrie said...

Yeah - the difference at the base of it is that the French justice system is investigatory or inquisitorial - the judge actually tries to find out what has happened; whereas the anglo-saxon system is adversarial, meaning that two sides argue in an attempt to discern the truth, and the judge is less active (although their decisions form case law which must be obeyed). There are other differences, for example France has statutory privacy protection laws; whereas the UK and US does not. There are cultural differences, eg there is nothing really like the UK tabloids in France and journalism in France I think is taken more seriously (there is in my opinion a greater regard for literary culture in France). TV news is very underdeveloped in France compared with the UK and - especially - the USA. It is a different culture but of course united in a common set of modern European cultural attitude about human rights, freedom of expression, etc.

Still the French contribution to journalism has been vast - just this week Year Two students have reached the point of looking at Emile Zola's journalism - we see him as the founder of photojournalism and of modern investigative journalism.

Chris Horrie said...

Strictly speaking Tribunals are not courts. They don't have strict rules on evidence. But they are established by statute (Act of Parliament) and their decisions can be challenged in higher courts. Tribunals (eg Industrial Tribunals which settle disputes between employers and employees who have been sacked) are a very good source of news stories, but they are not strictly speaking courts. My lecture was a but garbled today as I am frazzled by the administrative aspects of the start of the academic session.

Julie said...

My mistake, I'm going to correct it right now.

Chris Horrie said...

Tres bien

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