Lesson Idea

Origin Of Our Legal System

Theme: Laws and Crime
Relates to WACC: ACHCK050, ACHCK063, ACHCK064, ACHCK077, ACHCK090, VCCCG029, VCCCL022, VCCCL023, VCCCL034

The right to justice and a free trial is something we expect from living in our democratic society. Today not every country’s legal system has these protections.  So where did these rights come from?  Prior to Federation in 1901, the majority of new migrants to Australia came from the United Kingdom so the political and legal processes used today are based on the UK’s Westminster system. The origins of the Westminster system can be traced back through history to a very important document called the Magna Carta.

  • Show students the Magna Carta cartoon strip or the video animation Magna Carta: The foundation of the rule of law from the Magna Carta website hosted by the British Library. Students watch the video and discuss what was so important about clause 39 that it is still used today as a basis for our laws.
  • Students view the handout Magna Carta resource from the Frances Burt Law Education Program website, or the animation Magna Carta – the story of our freedom.  Students use the information in the document to draw a timeline titled: The Westminster system: its historical legacy.  Students include an explanation of the important events in the development of the Westminster system. (Use this as a summative assessment activity.)  Students may wish to create an online timeline using an app such as READWRITETHINK’s Timeline.

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