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Private law deals with legal disputes between individuals and/or organisations in areas such as contracts, property, torts/delicts and commercial law. This distinction is stronger in civil law countries, particularly those with a separate system of administrative courts; by contrast, the public-private law divide is less pronounced in common law jurisdictions. All legal systems deal with the same basic issues, but jurisdictions categorise and identify their legal topics in different ways.
Law and order is the condition of a society in which laws are obeyed, and social life and business go on in an organized way. As a law student, you will be expected to read many articles, journals, magazines, or textbooks. Civil law jurisdictions recognise custom as “the other source of law”; hence, scholars tend to divide the civil law into the broad categories of “written law” or legislation, and “unwritten law” (ius non-scriptum) or custom.
The Law News of agency, insurance law, bills of exchange, insolvency and bankruptcy law and sales law are all important, and trace back to the medieval Lex Mercatoria. The UK Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the US Uniform Commercial Code are examples of codified common law commercial principles. Once accredited, a lawyer will often work in a law firm, in a chambers as a sole practitioner, in a government post or in a private corporation as an internal counsel. In addition a lawyer may become a legal researcher who provides on-demand legal research through a library, a commercial service or freelance work. Many people trained in law put their skills to use outside the legal field entirely. Cynicism over “officialdom” is still common, and the workings of public servants is typically contrasted to private enterprise motivated by profit.
- Although countries like Israel, Greece, Sweden and China are unicameral, most countries are bicameral, meaning they have two separately appointed legislative houses.
- However, a few bodies, such as the WTO, have effective systems of binding arbitration and dispute resolution backed up by trade sanctions.
- In the ‘lower house’ politicians are elected to represent smaller constituencies.
- The way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies widely among these three bodies of churches.
One criticism of bicameral systems with two elected chambers is that the upper and lower houses may simply mirror one another. The traditional justification of bicameralism is that an upper chamber acts as a house of review. Some countries allow their highest judicial authority to overrule legislation they determine to be unconstitutional.
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Under a presidential system, the executive branch is separate from the legislature to which it is not accountable. The executive in a legal system serves as the centre of political authority of the State. In a parliamentary system, as with Britain, Italy, Germany, India, and Japan, the executive is known as the cabinet, and composed of members of the legislature. The executive is led by the head of government, whose office holds power under the confidence of the legislature. Because popular elections appoint political parties to govern, the leader of a party can change in between elections.
Sociology of law is a diverse field of study that examines the interaction of law with society and overlaps with jurisprudence, philosophy of law, social theory and more specialised subjects such as criminology. The institutions of social construction, social norms, dispute processing and legal culture are key areas for inquiry in this knowledge field. In the United States the field is usually called law and society studies; in Europe it is more often referred to as socio-legal studies. At first, jurists and legal philosophers were suspicious of sociology of law.
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In all three traditions, a canon was originally a rule adopted by a church council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law. In 1934, the Austrian philosopher Hans Kelsen continued the positivist tradition in his book the Pure Theory of Law. Kelsen believed that although law is separate from morality, it is endowed with “normativity”, meaning we ought to obey it. While laws are positive “is” statements (e.g. the fine for reversing on a highway is €500); law tells us what we “should” do. Thus, each legal system can be hypothesised to have a basic norm instructing us to obey. Kelsen’s major opponent, Carl Schmitt, rejected both positivism and the idea of the rule of law because he did not accept the primacy of abstract normative principles over concrete political positions and decisions.
The UK, Finland and New Zealand assert the ideal of parliamentary sovereignty, whereby the unelected judiciary may not overturn law passed by a democratic legislature. The third type of legal system—accepted by some countries without separation of church and state—is religious law, based on scriptures. The specific system that a country is ruled by is often determined by its history, connections with other countries, or its adherence to international standards. The sources that jurisdictions adopt as authoritatively binding are the defining features of any legal system. Yet classification is a matter of form rather than substance since similar rules often prevail. The Old Testament dates back to 1280 BC and takes the form of moral imperatives as recommendations for a good society.
The law of the modern company began with the Joint Stock Companies Act 1856, passed in the United Kingdom, which provided investors with a simple registration procedure to gain limited liability under the separate legal personality of the corporation. Social security law refers to the rights people have to social insurance, such as jobseekers’ allowances or housing benefits. Writing in the early 20th century, Max Weber believed that a definitive feature of a developed state had come to be its bureaucratic support. Prominent examples of legislatures are the Houses of Parliament in London, the Congress in Washington, D.C., the Bundestag in Berlin, the Duma in Moscow, the Parlamento Italiano in Rome and the Assemblée nationale in Paris.