The British and the American court systems

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The monarchy is the most ancient secular institutions in the UK. Its history stretches back more than a 1000 years. The monarchy is hereditary. The monarch is an integral part of the legislature, head of the judiciary, commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Crown and the temporal head of the established Church of England (Queen Elizabeth II, succeeded to the throne in 1952). Nowadays, the British monarchy is a constitutional or limited monarchy. The monarch or the Crown (the monarch and his/her government) symbolize the whole might and unity of the State, but for practical reasons, the monarch is powerless. The business of government is carried out by the ministers, even if it is done in the monarch's name.

The succession to the throne is regulated by the Act of Settlement (1700). According to this Act the throne passes to the eldest son, and, if there is no son, to the eldest daughter. Roman Catholics and those who marry Roman Catholics are barred from succession, in other words the monarch can only be Protestant. No descendant of the monarch can marry without the Sovereign's format assent. A monarch is deemed to have attained majority at 18 years of age. Should he succeed to the throne, the person next entitled in line of succession who has turned 21 will become Regent.

The monarch and the Royal family are provided with money to cover their personal expenses (the Civil List). At the beginning of each reign a Civil List Act is passed.
The monarch has private property, but the "Crown land" are not the monarch's property. They belong to the Crown in its public capacity, namely the State. In his private capacity the monarch cannot be sued in The Treasury is the finance department of the State. It is subordinate only to Parliament, it controls the economy of the nation. All other departmental estimates must be submitted for Treasury approval before being laid before Parliament.

Ministerial Departments are led politically by a Government Minister, normally a member of the Cabinet and cover matters that require direct political oversight. For most Departments, the Government Minister in question is known as a Secretary of State and is a member of the Cabinet. He or she is generally supported by a team of junior Ministers. The administrative management of the Department is led by a senior civil servant known as a Permanent Secretary. Subordinate to these Ministerial Departments are executive agencies.

An Executive Agency has a degree of autonomy to perform an operational function and report to one or more specific Government Departments, which will set the funding and strategic policy for the Agency. At 'arm's length' from a parent or sponsor Department there can be a number of Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs), known colloquially as QUANGOs.Non-ministerial departments generally cover matters for which direct political oversight is judged unnecessary or inappropriate. They are headed by senior civil servants. Some fulfill a regulatory or inspection function, and their status is therefore intended to protect them from political interference. Some are headed by Permanent Secretaries or Second Permanent Secretaries.

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