Richard III and his impact on the Law of England and Wales

The eyes of the world are definitely upon Leicester this week as 530 years after the hasty burial following his death and defeat at the Battle of Bosworth the body of Richard III is going to be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral.

Many people will have formed their impression of what Richard III may have been like from the famous Shakespeare play Richard III which portrays him as a villain.

Richard was a controversial figure both during his lifetime and afterwards. He lived in turbulent times where power often changed hands quickly and he took his chance to seize power in 1483 when he deposed the previous King Edward V who was his nephew. He imprisoned his nephews Edward V and Richard Duke of Gloucester in the Tower of London and they became known as “The Princes in the Tower”. As to whether he also murdered them there are a number of theories but no one can be sure.

However as the queues of people around Leicester waiting to get into the cathedral to pay their last respects are growing longer and longer you may be interested to learn that in fact during his short reign Richard III also brought in some important changes to the legal system to benefit ordinary people. He brought in the first legislation to standardize weights and measures to encourage trade.

He also set up the Court of Requests which allowed some poorer people who would not normally have had access to justice to petition the King directly which might be described as an early form of legal aid. At the time of his reign the laws of the land were written in either Latin or French which only the upper classes would have spoken. Richard had the laws of the land translated into English so that ordinary people could understand them.

Whilst laws and the legal system have changed quite a bit since 1485 when Richard III died, here at Dodds Solicitors we try to explain how the law might affect you and the different options available to you in straightforward language rather than using legal jargon. For all your personal legal matters please contact Dodds Solicitors on 0116-262 8596.