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We hIt is no secret that the European Union has reserved itself the right to primacy over the legal systems of its individual member states, however it is known to a much lesser extent that the EU’s Corpus Juris plan was to be implemented in a manner that would eventually overthrow the UK’s common law system and consequently sabotage the rights and freedoms of British citizens, states Oliver Taylor 


The Corpus Juris was introduced by the European commission in April 1997 as a project that had for purpose to establish a single system of European criminal law by creating a European Legal Area that includes a European Criminal Code and a European Public Prosecutor. Those that view the bloc as a beacon of progress that guides its nations forward, may revisit their opinion on the matter when they learn that the Corpus Juris is actually based on Napoleonic, inquisitorial principles and the freedoms that one may sometimes take for granted would actually be in jeopardy under this system.

Let us take a look at some of the most crucial issues that constitute the threat of the Corpus Juris legal system. For instance, Corpus Juris would put an end to the concept of a trial by jury. Instead, the final decisions in the court of law would be left at the sole discretion of a judge that is appointed by the state. One of the most important principles in the British criminal justice system is the understanding that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. The same, however, is not true under the Corpus Juris, for it reverses the presumption of innocence and it is thus the accused that must prove their lack of guilt to the state, rather than the prosecution having to make a case in order to demonstrate an individual’s involvement in the crime that they were charged with. Further dismantling the presumption of innocence, the Corpus Juris also does away with non-disclosure, meaning that any previous convictions of the accused can be made available to the court, effectively presenting the defendant as guilty from the very start. Double jeopardy – a procedural defence that prevents an individual from being tried for the same offence twice, would also become obsolete. 

Perhaps one of the EU’s biggest blows to personal rights and freedoms is its possible cancellation of Habeas Corpus. Habeas corpus is a recourse that originated in the British criminal justice system, a recourse that allows a person to oppose unlawful detention or imprisonment by petitioning the court to investigate the legality of an arrest and the prison custodian’s authority to hold a person incarcerated. Under Corpus Juris, a citizen can be held against their will without charge or evidence for a period of up to nine months. If the UK stays within the EU, this legal system would be implemented in full and forced upon British citizens who, as of now, still enjoy their rights under British common law, yet could easily forfeit them under the bloc’s increased dominance.   EG

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