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The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, was passed during the reign of the restored monarchy of Charles II after the English Civil War. It strengthened the ancient and powerful writ which had been a feature of English Common Law since before Magna Carta. It served to safeguard individual liberty, preventing unlawful or arbitrary imprisonment. Habeas Corpus is Latin for “you may have the body” – subject to legal examination before a court, or a judge.

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Today is the very anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, that great charter which laid down the basis for English common law, now spread throughout the world. Magna Carta gave protection of law against despotism by...

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