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Law is a set of rules that are created and are
enforceable An unenforceable contract A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more Party (law), parties that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations between them. A contract typically involves the transfer of go ...
by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. It has been variously described as a
science Science is a systematic endeavor that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Science may be as old as the human species, and some of the earli ...
and as the art of justice. State-enforced laws can be made by a group
legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contrasted with the Executive (government), executive and Judiciary, ...
or by a single legislator, resulting in
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislature, legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, State (polity), state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare Public p ...
s; by the executive through
decree A decree is a law, legal proclamation, usually issued by a head of state (such as the President (government title), president of a republic or a monarch), according to certain procedures (usually established in a constitution). It has the force of ...
s and
regulation Regulation is the management of complex systems A complex system is a system composed of many components which may interaction, interact with each other. Examples of complex systems are Earth's global climate, organisms, the human brain, infra ...
s; or established by judges through
precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. Common-law legal systems place great ...
, usually in
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipres ...
jurisdictions. Private individuals may create legally binding
contract A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more Party (law), parties that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations between them. A contract typically involves the transfer of goods, Service (economics), ser ...
s, including arbitration agreements that adopt alternative ways of resolving disputes to standard court litigation. The creation of laws themselves may be influenced by a
constitution A constitution is the aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who ...
, written or tacit, and the
rights Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social convent ...
encoded therein. The law shapes
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of res ...
,
economics Economics () is the social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and intera ...
,
history History (derived ) is the systematic study and the documentation of the human activity. The time period of event before the invention of writing systems is considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term comprising past events as we ...
and
society A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same political Politics (from , ) is the set of activitie ...
in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people. Legal systems vary between
jurisdictions Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. J ...
, with their differences analysed in
comparative law Comparative law is the study of differences and similarities between the law (List of national legal systems, legal systems) of different countries. More specifically, it involves the study of the different legal "systems" (or "families") in exist ...
. In civil law jurisdictions, a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates the law. In
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipres ...
systems, judges may make binding case law through
precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. Common-law legal systems place great ...
, although on occasion this may be overturned by a higher court or the legislature. Historically,
religious law Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Different religious systems hold sacred law in a greater or lesser degree of importance to their belief systems, with some being explicitly antinomian whereas othe ...
has influenced secular matters and is, as of the 21st century, still in use in some religious communities.
Sharia law Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a body of religious law that forms a part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the Five Pillars of Islam, religious precepts of Islam and is based on the Islamic holy books, sacred scriptures o ...
based on
Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the direct word of God in Islam, God (or ''Allah'') as it was revealed to Muh ...
ic principles is used as the primary legal system in several countries, including
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
and
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about , making it the List of Asian countries by area, fifth-largest country in Asia ...
. The scope of law can be divided into two domains.
Public law Public law is the part of law that governs relations between legal persons and a government, between different institutions within a State (polity), state, between Separation of powers, different branches of governments, as well as relationship ...
concerns government and society, including
constitutional law Constitutional law is a body of law which defines the role, powers, and structure of different entities within a State (polity), state, namely, the executive (government), executive, the parliament or legislature, and the judiciary; as well as th ...
,
administrative law Administrative law is the division of law that governs the activities of government agency, executive branch agencies of Forms of government, government. Administrative law concerns executive branch rule making (executive branch rules are gener ...
, and
criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It prescribes conduct perceived as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property, health, safety, and welfare, moral welfare of people inclusive of one's self. Most crimin ...
.
Private law Private law is that part of a civil law (legal system), civil law legal system which is part of the ''jus commune'' that involves relationships between individuals, such as the law of contracts and torts (as it is called in the common law), and t ...
deals with legal disputes between individuals and/or organisations in areas such as
contracts A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more Party (law), parties that creates, defines, and governs mutual rights and obligations between them. A contract typically involves the transfer of goods, Service (economics), ser ...
,
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to Consumables, consume, alte ...
, torts/ delicts and
commercial law Commercial law, also known as mercantile law or trade law, is the body of law that applies to the rights, relations, and conduct of persons and business engaged in commerce Commerce is the large-scale organized system of activities, functio ...
. 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 In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipres ...
jurisdictions. Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into
legal history Legal history or the history of law is the study of how law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90 ...
,
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. Some ...
, economic analysis and
sociology Sociology is a social science that focuses on society, human social behavior, patterns of Interpersonal ties, social relationships, social interaction, and aspects of culture associated with everyday life. It uses various methods of Empirical ...
. Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness, and
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspective ...
.


Philosophy of law

The philosophy of law is commonly known as jurisprudence. Normative jurisprudence asks "what should law be?", while analytic jurisprudence asks "what is law?"


Analytical jurisprudence

There have been several attempts to produce "a universally acceptable definition of law". In 1972, Baron Hampstead suggested that no such definition could be produced. Dennis Lloyd, Baron Lloyd of Hampstead. ''Introduction to Jurisprudence''. Third Edition. Stevens & Sons. London. 1972. Second Impression. 1975. p. 39. McCoubrey and White said that the question "what is law?" has no simple answer.
Glanville Williams Glanville Llewelyn Williams (15 February 1911 – 10 April 1997) was a Welsh legal scholar who was the Rouse Ball Professor of English Law at the University of Cambridge from 1968 to 1978 and the Quain Professor, Quain Professor of Jurisprudenc ...
said that the meaning of the word "law" depends on the context in which that word is used. He said that, for example, "
early customary law A legal custom is the established pattern of behavior that can be objectively verified within a particular social setting. A claim can be carried out in defense of "what has always been done and accepted by law". Customary law (also, consuetudina ...
" and "
municipal law Municipal law is the national, domestic, or internal law of a sovereignty, sovereign sovereign state, state and is defined in opposition to international law. Municipal law includes many levels of law: not only national law but also state, provi ...
" were contexts where the word "law" had two different and irreconcilable meanings. Thurman Arnold said that it is obvious that it is impossible to define the word "law" and that it is also equally obvious that the struggle to define that word should not ever be abandoned. It is possible to take the view that there is no need to define the word "law" (e.g. "let's forget about generalities and get down to cases"). One definition is that law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour. In '' The Concept of Law,'' H.L.A Hart argued that law is a "system of rules";
John Austin John Austin may refer to: Arts and entertainment *John P. Austin (1906–1997), American set decorator *Johnny Austin (1910–1983), American musician *John Austin (author) (fl. 1940s), British novelist Military *John Austin (soldier) (1801– ...
said law was "the command of a sovereign, backed by the threat of a sanction";
Ronald Dworkin Ronald Myles Dworkin (; December 11, 1931 – February 14, 2013) was an American philosopher A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamen ...
describes law as an "interpretive concept" to achieve
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspective ...
in his text titled ''
Law's Empire ''Law's Empire'' is a 1986 text in legal philosophy by Ronald Dworkin, in which the author continues his criticism of the philosophy of legal positivism Legal positivism (as understood in the Anglosphere) is a school of thought of analytical j ...
'';Law's Empire ''Law's Empire'' is a 1986 text in legal philosophy by Ronald Dworkin, in which the author continues his criticism of the philosophy of legal positivism Legal positivism (as understood in the Anglosphere) is a school of thought of analytical j ...
, 410">Dworkin, ''
Law's Empire ''Law's Empire'' is a 1986 text in legal philosophy by Ronald Dworkin, in which the author continues his criticism of the philosophy of legal positivism Legal positivism (as understood in the Anglosphere) is a school of thought of analytical j ...
'', 410 and
Joseph Raz Joseph Raz (; he, יוסף רז; born Zaltsman; 21 March 19392 May 2022) was an Israeli Legal philosophy, legal, Moral philosophy, moral and political philosopher. He was an advocate of legal positivism and is known for his conception of perf ...
argues law is an "authority" to mediate people's interests. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "The prophecies of what the courts will do in fact, and nothing more pretentious, are what I mean by the law." In his '' Treatise on Law,''
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas, Dominican Order, OP (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar and Catholic priest, priest who was an influential List of Catholic philo ...
argues that law is a rational ordering of things which concern the common good that is promulgated by whoever is charged with the care of the community. This definition has both positivist and naturalist elements.


Connection to morality and justice

Definitions of law often raise the question of the extent to which law incorporates morality.
John Austin John Austin may refer to: Arts and entertainment *John P. Austin (1906–1997), American set decorator *Johnny Austin (1910–1983), American musician *John Austin (author) (fl. 1940s), British novelist Military *John Austin (soldier) (1801– ...
's
utilitarian In ethical philosophy, utilitarianism is a family of Normative ethics, normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit ...
answer was that law is "commands, backed by threat of sanctions, from a sovereign, to whom people have a habit of obedience".Bix
John Austin
Natural law Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature, and based on values intrinsic to human nature that can be Deductive reasoning, deduced and applied independently of positive law ( ...
yers on the other side, such as
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Jean-Jacques Rousseau (, ; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Republic of Geneva, Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Age of Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects ...
, argue that law reflects essentially moral and unchangeable laws of nature. The concept of "natural law" emerged in ancient
Greek philosophy Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC, marking the end of the Greek Dark Ages. Greek philosophy continued throughout the Hellenistic period and Ancient Roman philosophy, the period in which Greece and most Greek-inhabited lands were ...
concurrently and in connection with the notion of justice, and re-entered the mainstream of
Western culture image:Da Vinci Vitruve Luc Viatour.jpg, Leonardo da Vinci's ''Vitruvian Man''. Based on the correlations of ideal Body proportions, human proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in Book III of his treatise '' ...
through the writings of
Thomas Aquinas Thomas Aquinas, Dominican Order, OP (; it, Tommaso d'Aquino, lit=Thomas of Aquino, Italy, Aquino; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican Order, Dominican friar and Catholic priest, priest who was an influential List of Catholic philo ...
, notably his '' Treatise on Law''. When having completed the first two parts of his book '' Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes'', which he intended to be the end of the entire work, Honoré de Balzac visited the
Conciergerie The Conciergerie () ( en, Lodge) is a former courthouse and prison in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2 ...
. Thereafter, he decided to add a third part, finally named ''Où mènent les mauvais chemins'' (''The Ends of Evil Ways''), entirely dedicated to describing the conditions in prison.. In this third part, he states:
Hugo Grotius Hugo Grotius (; 10 April 1583 – 28 August 1645), also known as Huig de Groot () and Hugo de Groot (), was a Dutch humanist, diplomat, lawyer, theologian, jurist, poet and playwright. A teenage intellectual prodigy, he was born in Delft ...
, the founder of a purely rationalistic system of natural law, argued that law arises from both a social impulse—as Aristotle had indicated—and reason.
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German Philosophy, philosopher and one of the central Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers. Born in Königsberg, Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemolo ...
believed a moral imperative requires laws "be chosen as though they should hold as universal laws of nature".
Jeremy Bentham Jeremy Bentham (; 15 February 1748 ld Style and New Style dates, O.S. 4 February 1747– 6 June 1832) was an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. Bentham defined as the "fundam ...
and his student Austin, following
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 New Style, NS (26 April 1711 Old Style, OS) – 25 August 1776)Maurice Cranston, Cranston, Maurice, and T. E. Jessop, Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999avid Hume" ''Encyclopædia Britannica''. Retrieve ...
, believed that this conflated the "is" and what "ought to be" problem. Bentham and Austin argued for law's
positivism Positivism is an empiricist In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are of ...
; that real law is entirely separate from "morality". Kant was also criticised by
Friedrich Nietzsche Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (; or ; 15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, Prose poetry, prose poet, cultural critic, Philology, philologist, and composer whose work has exerted a profound influence on contemporary philo ...
, who rejected the principle of equality, and believed that law emanates from the
will to power The will to power (german: der Wille zur Macht) is a concept in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. The will to power describes what Friedrich Nietzsche, Nietzsche may have believed to be the main driving force in humans. However, the concept ...
, and cannot be labeled as "moral" or "immoral". In 1934, the Austrian philosopher
Hans Kelsen Hans Kelsen (; ; October 11, 1881 – April 19, 1973) was an Austrian jurist, legal philosopher and political philosopher. He was the author of the 1920 Austrian Constitution, which to a very large degree is still valid today. Due to the rise o ...
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 ('' Grundnorm'') instructing us to obey. Kelsen's major opponent,
Carl Schmitt Carl Schmitt (; 11 July 1888 – 7 April 1985) was a German jurist A jurist is a person with expert knowledge of law; someone who analyses and comments on law. This person is usually a specialist legal scholar, mostly (but not always) with ...
, rejected both positivism and the idea of the
rule of law The rule of law is the political philosophy that all citizens and institutions within a country, state, or community are accountable to the same laws, including lawmakers and leaders. The rule of law is defined in the ''Encyclopedia Britannica ...
because he did not accept the primacy of abstract normative principles over concrete political positions and decisions. Therefore, Schmitt advocated a jurisprudence of the exception (
state of emergency A state of emergency is a situation in which a government is empowered to be able to put through policies that it would normally not be permitted to do, for the safety and protection of its citizens. A government can declare such a state du ...
), which denied that legal norms could encompass all of the political experience.Finn, ''Constitutions in Crisis'', 170–171 Later in the 20th century, H. L. A. Hart attacked Austin for his simplifications and Kelsen for his fictions in '' The Concept of Law''. Hart argued law is a system of rules, divided into primary (rules of conduct) and secondary ones (rules addressed to officials to administer primary rules). Secondary rules are further divided into rules of adjudication (to resolve legal disputes), rules of change (allowing laws to be varied) and the rule of recognition (allowing laws to be identified as valid). Two of Hart's students continued the debate: In his book ''
Law's Empire ''Law's Empire'' is a 1986 text in legal philosophy by Ronald Dworkin, in which the author continues his criticism of the philosophy of legal positivism Legal positivism (as understood in the Anglosphere) is a school of thought of analytical j ...
'',
Ronald Dworkin Ronald Myles Dworkin (; December 11, 1931 – February 14, 2013) was an American philosopher A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamen ...
attacked Hart and the positivists for their refusal to treat law as a moral issue. Dworkin argues that law is an " interpretive concept",Law's Empire ''Law's Empire'' is a 1986 text in legal philosophy by Ronald Dworkin, in which the author continues his criticism of the philosophy of legal positivism Legal positivism (as understood in the Anglosphere) is a school of thought of analytical j ...
, 410" /> that requires judges to find the best fitting and most just solution to a legal dispute, given their constitutional traditions.
Joseph Raz Joseph Raz (; he, יוסף רז; born Zaltsman; 21 March 19392 May 2022) was an Israeli Legal philosophy, legal, Moral philosophy, moral and political philosopher. He was an advocate of legal positivism and is known for his conception of perf ...
, on the other hand, defended the positivist outlook and criticised Hart's "soft social thesis" approach in ''The Authority of Law''.Raz, ''The Authority of Law'', 3–36 Raz argues that law is authority, identifiable purely through social sources and without reference to moral reasoning. In his view, any categorisation of rules beyond their role as authoritative instruments in mediation are best left to
sociology Sociology is a social science that focuses on society, human social behavior, patterns of Interpersonal ties, social relationships, social interaction, and aspects of culture associated with everyday life. It uses various methods of Empirical ...
, rather than jurisprudence.


History

The history of law links closely to the development of
civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society characterized by the development of a state, social stratification, urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from Rural area, rural to urban are ...
.
Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...
ian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, was based on the concept of
Ma'at Maat or Maʽat ( Egyptian: mꜣꜥt /ˈmuʀʕat/, Coptic: ⲙⲉⲓ) refers to the ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric ...
and characterised by tradition,
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuad ...
al speech, social equality and impartiality. By the 22nd century BC, the ancient
Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of ...
ian ruler
Ur-Nammu Ur-Nammu (or Ur-Namma, Ur-Engur, Ur-Gur, Sumerian: , ruled c. 2112 BC – 2094 BC middle chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a chronology, framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions ...
had formulated the first
law code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a systematic collection of statutes. It is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the cod ...
, which consisted of
casuistic In ethics, casuistry ( ) is a process of reasoning that seeks to resolve Ethical dilemma, moral problems by extracting or extending theoretical rules from a particular case, and reapplying those rules to new instances. This method occurs in appli ...
statements ("if … then ..."). Around 1760 BC, King Hammurabi further developed
Babylonian law Babylonian law is a subset of cuneiform law that has received particular study due to the large amount of archaeological material that has been found for it. So-called "contracts" exist in the thousands, including a great variety of deeds, Conv ...
, by codifying and inscribing it in stone. Hammurabi placed several copies of his law code throughout the kingdom of Babylon as
stelae A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek language, Greek , ''stēlē''. The Greek plural is written , ''stēlai'', but this is only rarely encountered in English. or occasionally stela (plural ''stelas'' or ...
, for the entire public to see; this became known as the Codex Hammurabi. The most intact copy of these stelae was discovered in the 19th century by British Assyriologists, and has since been fully
transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one writing system, script to another that involves swapping Letter (alphabet), letters (thus ''wikt:trans-#Prefix, trans-'' + ''wikt:littera#Latin, liter-'') in predictable ways, such as ...
and translated into various languages, including English, Italian, German, and French. The
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;
dates back to 1280 BC and takes the form of moral imperatives as recommendations for a good society. The small
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
city-state, ancient
Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is a coastal city in the Mediterranean and is both the capital and largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh largest c ...
, from about the 8th century BC was the first society to be based on broad inclusion of its citizenry, excluding women and enslaved people. However, Athens had no legal science or single word for "law", relying instead on the three-way distinction between divine law (''thémis''), human decree (''nomos'') and custom (''díkē''). Yet
Ancient Greek law Ancient Greek law consists of the laws and legal institutions of Ancient Greece. The existence of certain general principles of law is implied by the custom of settling a difference between two Greek states, or between members of a single state, ...
contained major
constitutional A constitution is the aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of Legal entity, entity and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed. When ...
innovations in the development of
democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
.
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, but its detailed rules were developed by professional jurists and were highly sophisticated. Over the centuries between the rise and decline of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
, law was adapted to cope with the changing social situations and underwent major codification under
Theodosius II Theodosius II ( grc-gre, Θεοδόσιος, Theodosios; 10 April 401 – 28 July 450) was Roman emperor for most of his life, proclaimed ''Augustus (title), augustus'' as an infant in 402 and ruling as the eastern Empire's sole emperor after ...
and
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus, ; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor, Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. His reign is marked by ...
.As a legal system, Roman law has affected the development of law worldwide. It also forms the basis for the law codes of most countries of continental Europe and has played an important role in the creation of the idea of a common European culture (Stein, ''Roman Law in European History'', 2, 104–107). Although codes were replaced by
custom Custom, customary, or consuetudinary may refer to: Traditions, laws, and religion * Convention (norm), a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted rules, norms, standards or criteria, often taking the form of a custom * Norm (social), a r ...
and
case law Case law, also used interchangeably with common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in writt ...
during the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages (or early medieval period), sometimes controversially referred to as the Dark Ages (historiography), Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They ...
, Roman law was rediscovered around the 11th century when medieval legal scholars began to research Roman codes and adapt their concepts to the
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a Christian organization or chur ...
, giving birth to the ''
jus commune ''Jus commune'' or ''ius commune'' is Latin for "common law" in certain jurisdictions. It is often used by Civil law (legal system), civil law jurists to refer to those aspects of the civil law system's invariant legal principles, sometimes calle ...
''. Latin
legal maxim A legal maxim is an established principle or proposition of law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity' ...
s (called brocards) were compiled for guidance. In medieval England, royal courts developed a body of
precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. Common-law legal systems place great ...
which later became the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipres ...
. A Europe-wide
Law Merchant ''Lex mercatoria'' (from the Latin language, Latin for "merchant law"), often referred to as "the Law Merchant" in English, is the body of commercial law used by merchants throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, medieval period. It evolved simi ...
was formed so that merchants could trade with common standards of practice rather than with the many splintered facets of local laws. The Law Merchant, a precursor to modern commercial law, emphasised the freedom to contract and alienability of property. As
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation should be congruent with the State (polity), state. As a movement, nationalism tends to promote the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of peo ...
grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Law Merchant was incorporated into countries' local law under new civil codes. The
Napoleonic Napoleon Bonaparte ; it, Napoleone Bonaparte, ; co, Napulione Buonaparte. (born Napoleone Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821), later known by his regnal name Napoleon I, was a French military commander and political leader who ...
and German Codes became the most influential. In contrast to English common law, which consists of enormous tomes of case law, codes in small books are easy to export and easy for judges to apply. However, today there are signs that civil and common law are converging. EU law is codified in treaties, but develops through ''de facto'' precedent laid down by the
European Court of Justice The European Court of Justice (ECJ, french: Cour de Justice européenne), formally just the Court of Justice, is the supreme court of the European Union in matters of European Union law. As a part of the Court of Justice of the European Unio ...
. Ancient
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
and
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
represent distinct traditions of law, and have historically had independent schools of legal theory and practice. The ''
Arthashastra The ''Arthashastra'' ( sa, अर्थशास्त्रम्, ) is an Ancient Indian Sanskrit treatise on statecraft, political science, economic policy and military strategy. Kautilya, also identified as Vishnugupta and Chanakya ...
'', probably compiled around 100 AD (although it contains older material), and the ''
Manusmriti The ''Manusmṛiti'' ( sa, मनुस्मृति), also known as the ''Mānava-Dharmaśāstra'' or Laws of Manu, is one of the many legal texts and constitution among the many ' of Hinduism. In ancient India, the Rishi, sages often wrot ...
'' (c. 100–300 AD) were foundational treatises in India, and comprise texts considered authoritative legal guidance. Manu's central philosophy was tolerance and pluralism, and was cited across Southeast Asia. During the
Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent The Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent mainly took place from the 13th to 17th centuries. Early Muslim conquests, Earlier Muslim conquests include the invasions into what is now modern-day Pakistan and the Umayyad campaigns in India in ...
,
sharia Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a body of religious law that forms a part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the Five Pillars of Islam, religious precepts of Islam and is based on the Islamic holy books, sacred scriptures o ...
was established by the Muslim sultanates and empires, most notably
Mughal Empire The Mughal Empire was an early-modern empire that controlled much of South Asia between the 16th and 19th centuries. Quote: "Although the first two Timurid emperors and many of their noblemen were recent migrants to the subcontinent, the d ...
's Fatawa-e-Alamgiri, compiled by emperor
Aurangzeb Muhi al-Din Muhammad (; – 3 March 1707), commonly known as ( fa, , lit=Ornament of the Throne) and by his regnal title Alamgir ( fa, , translit=ʿĀlamgīr, lit=Conqueror of the World), was the sixth emperor of the Mughal Empire, ruling ...
and various scholars of Islam. In India, the
Hindu Hindus (; ) are people who religiously adhere to Hinduism.Jeffery D. Long (2007), A Vision for Hinduism, IB Tauris, , pages 35–37 Historically, the term has also been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for ...
legal tradition, along with Islamic law, were both supplanted by common law when India became part of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
. Malaysia, Brunei,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island country, island country and city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Pen ...
and
Hong Kong Hong Kong ( (US) or (UK); , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (abbr. Hong Kong SAR or HKSAR), is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special ...
also adopted the common law system. The eastern Asia legal tradition reflects a unique blend of secular and religious influences. Japan was the first country to begin modernising its legal system along western lines, by importing parts of the French, but mostly the German Civil Code. This partly reflected Germany's status as a rising power in the late 19th century. Similarly,
traditional Chinese law Traditional Chinese law refers to the laws, regulations, and rules used in China up to 1911, when Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty fell. It has undergone continuous development since at least the 11th century BCE. This legal tradition is ...
gave way to westernisation towards the final years of the
Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty ( ), officially the Great Qing,, was a Manchu people, Manchu-led Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China and the last orthodox dynasty in Chinese history. It emerged from the Later Jin (1616–1636), La ...
in the form of six private law codes based mainly on the Japanese model of German law. Today Taiwanese law retains the closest affinity to the codifications from that period, because of the split between
Chiang Kai-shek Chiang Kai-shek (31 October 1887 – 5 April 1975), also known as Chiang Chung-cheng and Jiang Jieshi, was a Chinese Nationalist politician, revolutionary, and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China (ROC) from 192 ...
's nationalists, who fled there, and
Mao Zedong Mao Zedong pronounced ; also Romanization of Chinese, romanised traditionally as Mao Tse-tung. (26 December 1893 – 9 September 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the List of national founde ...
's communists who won control of the mainland in 1949. The current legal infrastructure in the People's Republic of China was heavily influenced by
Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
Socialist law, which essentially inflates administrative law at the expense of private law rights. Due to rapid industrialisation, today China is undergoing a process of reform, at least in terms of economic, if not social and political, rights. A new contract code in 1999 represented a move away from administrative domination. Furthermore, after negotiations lasting fifteen years, in 2001 China joined the
World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization Globalization is social change associated with increased connectivity among societies and their elements and the explosive evolution of transportation and telecommunica ...
.


Legal systems

In general, legal systems can be split between civil law and common law systems. Modern scholars argue that the significance of this distinction has progressively declined; the numerous legal transplants, typical of modern law, result in the sharing by modern legal systems of many features traditionally considered typical of either common law or civil law.Mattei, ''Comparative Law and Economics'', 71 The term "civil law", referring to the civilian legal system originating in continental Europe, should not be confused with "civil law" in the sense of the common law topics distinct from
criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It prescribes conduct perceived as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property, health, safety, and welfare, moral welfare of people inclusive of one's self. Most crimin ...
and
public law Public law is the part of law that governs relations between legal persons and a government, between different institutions within a State (polity), state, between Separation of powers, different branches of governments, as well as relationship ...
. The third type of legal system—accepted by some countries without
separation of church and state The separation of church and state is a philosophical and Jurisprudence, jurisprudential concept for defining political distance in the relationship between religious organizations and the State (polity), state. Conceptually, the term refers to ...
—is religious law, based on
scripture Religious texts, including scripture, are Text (literary theory), texts which various religions consider to be of central importance to their religious tradition. They differ from literature by being a compilation or discussion of beliefs, m ...
s. 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 Source may refer to: Research * Historical document * Historical source * Source (intelligence) or sub source, typically a confidential provider of non open-source intelligence * Source (journalism), a person, publication, publishing institute o ...
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.


Civil law

Civil law is the legal system used in most countries around the world today. In civil law the sources recognised as authoritative are, primarily, legislation—especially codifications in constitutions or
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislature, legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, State (polity), state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare Public p ...
s passed by government—and
custom Custom, customary, or consuetudinary may refer to: Traditions, laws, and religion * Convention (norm), a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted rules, norms, standards or criteria, often taking the form of a custom * Norm (social), a r ...
. Codifications date back millennia, with one early example being the Babylonian '' Codex Hammurabi''. Modern civil law systems essentially derive from legal codes issued by
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
Emperor
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus, ; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor, Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. His reign is marked by ...
in the 6th century, which were rediscovered by 11th century Italy. Roman law in the days of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization when it was run through res publica, public Representation (politics), representation of the Roman peo ...
and Empire was heavily procedural, and lacked a professional legal class. Instead a lay
magistrate The term magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer to a civilian officer who administers the law. In ancient Rome, a ''Roman magistrate, magistratus'' was one of the highest ranking government officers, and poss ...
, ''iudex'', was chosen to adjudicate. Decisions were not published in any systematic way, so any case law that developed was disguised and almost unrecognised. Each case was to be decided afresh from the laws of the State, which mirrors the (theoretical) unimportance of judges' decisions for future cases in civil law systems today. From 529 to 534 AD the
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
Emperor
Justinian I Justinian I (; la, Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus, ; grc-gre, Ἰουστινιανός ; 48214 November 565), also known as Justinian the Great, was the Byzantine emperor, Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565. His reign is marked by ...
codified and consolidated Roman law up until that point, so that what remained was one-twentieth of the mass of legal texts from before. This became known as the ''
Corpus Juris Civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Byzantine Emperors, Byzantine Emperor. It is also ...
''. As one legal historian wrote, "Justinian consciously looked back to the golden age of Roman law and aimed to restore it to the peak it had reached three centuries before." The Justinian Code remained in force in the East until the fall of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survi ...
. Western Europe, meanwhile, relied on a mix of the
Theodosian Code The ''Codex Theodosianus'' (Eng. Theodosian Code) was a compilation of the Roman law, laws of the Roman Empire under the Christians, Christian emperors since 312. A commission was established by Emperor Theodosius II and his co-emperor Valentinia ...
and Germanic customary law until the Justinian Code was rediscovered in the 11th century, and scholars at the
University of Bologna The University of Bologna ( it, Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, UNIBO) is a Public university, public research university in Bologna, Italy. Founded in 1088 by an organised guild of students (''studiorum''), it is the List of old ...
used it to interpret their own laws. Civil law codifications based closely on Roman law, alongside some influences from
religious law Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Different religious systems hold sacred law in a greater or lesser degree of importance to their belief systems, with some being explicitly antinomian whereas othe ...
s such as
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a Christian organization or chur ...
, continued to spread throughout Europe until the Enlightenment; then, in the 19th century, both France, with the '' Code Civil'', and Germany, with the ''
Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch The ''Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch'' (, ), abbreviated BGB, is the civil code A civil code is a codification of private law relating to property law, property, family law, family, and law of obligations, obligations. A jurisdiction that has ...
'', modernised their legal codes. Both these codes influenced heavily not only the law systems of the countries in continental Europe (e.g. Greece), but also the
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea ...
and
Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisine * Korean culture * Korean language **Korean alphabet, known as Hangul or Chosŏn'gŭl **Korean dialects and the Jeju language ** ...
legal traditions. Today, countries that have civil law systems range from Russia and Turkey to most of Central and
Latin America Latin America or * french: Amérique Latine, link=no * ht, Amerik Latin, link=no * pt, América Latina, link=no, name=a, sometimes referred to as LatAm is a large cultural region in the Americas where Romance languages — languages derived f ...
.


Anarchist law

Anarchism has been practiced in society in much of the world. Mass
anarchist communities This is a list of anarchist Anarchism is a political philosophy and Political movement, movement that is skeptical of all justifications for authority and seeks to abolish the institutions it claims maintain unnecessary coercion and So ...
, ranging from
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
to the United States, exist and vary from hundreds to millions. Anarchism encompasses a broad range of
social Social organisms, including human(s), live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary or not. Etymology The word "social" derives from ...
political philosophies with different tendencies and implementation. Anarchist law primarily deals with how anarchism is implemented upon a society, the framework based on decentralized organizations and mutual aid, with representation through a form of
direct democracy Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which the Election#Electorate, electorate decides on policy initiatives without legislator, elected representatives as proxies. This differs from the majority of currently establishe ...
. Laws being based upon their need. A large portion of anarchist ideologies such as
anarcho-syndicalism Anarcho-syndicalism is a political philosophy and anarchist school of thought that views revolutionary industrial unionism or syndicalism as a method for workers in capitalist society to gain control of an economy and thus control influence in b ...
and
anarcho-communism Anarcho-communism, also known as anarchist communism, (or, colloquially, ''ancom'' or ''ancomm'') is a political philosophy and Anarchist schools of thought, anarchist school of thought that advocates communism. It calls for the abolition of pri ...
primarily focuses on
decentralized Decentralization or decentralisation is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group. Conce ...
worker unions,
cooperatives A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomy, autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratical ...
and syndicates as the main instrument of society.


Socialist law

Socialist law is the legal systems in
communist state A communist state, also known as a Marxist–Leninist state, is a one-party state that is administered and governed by a communist party guided by Marxism–Leninism. Marxism–Leninism was the Ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet U ...
s such as the former
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
and the
People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
. Academic opinion is divided on whether it is a separate system from civil law, given major deviations based on Marxist–Leninist ideology, such as subordinating the judiciary to the executive ruling party.


Common law and equity

In
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipres ...
legal systems, decisions by courts are explicitly acknowledged as "law" on equal footing with
statutes A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper ...
adopted through the legislative process and with
regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory, these types of rules exist in various fields of biology and society, but the term has slightly different meanings according to context. For ...
issued by the
executive branch The Executive, also referred as the Executive branch or Executive power, is the term commonly used to describe that part of government which enforces the law, and has overall responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. In poli ...
. The "doctrine of precedent", or ''
stare decisis A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjud ...
'' (Latin for "to stand by decisions") means that decisions by higher courts bind lower courts, and future decisions of the same court, to assure that similar cases reach similar results. In contrast, in " civil law" systems, legislative statutes are typically more detailed, and judicial decisions are shorter and less detailed, because the judge or barrister is only writing to decide the single case, rather than to set out reasoning that will guide future courts. Common law originated from England and has been inherited by almost every country once tied to the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
(except Malta,
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...
, the U.S. state of
Louisiana Louisiana , group=pronunciation (French: ''La Louisiane'') is a U.S. state, state in the Deep South and South Central United States, South Central regions of the United States. It is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 20th-smal ...
, and the Canadian province of
Quebec Quebec ( ; )According to the Government of Canada, Canadian government, ''Québec'' (with the acute accent) is the official name in Canadian French and ''Quebec'' (without the accent) is the province's official name in Canadian English is ...
). In medieval England, the
Norman conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west a ...
the law varied shire-to-shire, based on disparate tribal customs. The concept of a "common law" developed during the reign of Henry II during the late 12th century, when Henry appointed judges that had authority to create an institutionalised and unified system of law "common" to the country. The next major step in the evolution of the common law came when King John was forced by his barons to sign a document limiting his authority to pass laws. This "great charter" or ''
Magna Carta (Medieval Latin for "Great Charter of Freedoms"), commonly called (also ''Magna Charta''; "Great Charter"), is a royal charter of rights agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, Berkshire, Windsor, on 15 June 1215. ...
'' of 1215 also required that the King's entourage of judges hold their courts and judgments at "a certain place" rather than dispensing autocratic justice in unpredictable places about the country. A concentrated and elite group of judges acquired a dominant role in law-making under this system, and compared to its European counterparts the English judiciary became highly centralised. In 1297, for instance, while the highest court in France had fifty-one judges, the
English Court of Common Pleas The Court of Common Pleas, or Common Bench, was a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being sta ...
had five. This powerful and tight-knit judiciary gave rise to a systematised process of developing common law. However, the system became overly systematised—overly rigid and inflexible. As a result, as time went on, increasing numbers of citizens petitioned the King to override the common law, and on the King's behalf the
Lord Chancellor The lord chancellor, formally the lord high chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking traditional minister among the Great Officers of State (United Kingdom), Great Officers of State in Scotland and England in the United Kingdom, no ...
gave judgment to do what was equitable in a case. From the time of
Sir Thomas More Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535), veneration, venerated in the Catholic Church as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, judge, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist. He also served Henry VII ...
, the first
lawyer A lawyer is a person who practices law. The role of a lawyer varies greatly across different legal jurisdictions. A lawyer can be classified as an advocate, attorney, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction ( ...
to be appointed as Lord Chancellor, a systematic body of equity grew up alongside the rigid common law, and developed its own
Court of Chancery The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wa ...
. At first, equity was often criticised as erratic, that it varied according to the length of the Chancellor's foot. Over time, courts of equity developed solid
principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a Legal rule, rule that has to be or usually is to be followed. It can be desirably followed, or it can be an inevitable consequence of something, suc ...
, especially under Lord Eldon. In the 19th century in England, and in 1937 in the U.S., the two systems were
merged Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are business transactions in which the ownership of Company, companies, other business organizations, or their operating units are transferred to or Consolidation (business), consolidated with another company or b ...
. In developing the common law, academic writings have always played an important part, both to collect overarching principles from dispersed case law, and to argue for change.
William Blackstone Sir William Blackstone (10 July 1723 – 14 February 1780) was an English jurist, judge and Tory (British political party), Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the ''Commentaries on the Laws of England''. Bo ...
, from around 1760, was the first scholar to collect, describe, and teach the common law. But merely in describing, scholars who sought explanations and underlying structures slowly changed the way the law actually worked.


Religious law

Religious law is explicitly based on religious precepts. Examples include the Jewish
Halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also Romanization of Hebrew, transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', and ''halocho'' ( ), is the collective body of Judaism, Jewish religious laws which is derived from the Torah, written and Oral Tora ...
and Islamic
Sharia Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a body of religious law that forms a part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the Five Pillars of Islam, religious precepts of Islam and is based on the Islamic holy books, sacred scriptures o ...
—both of which translate as the "path to follow"—while Christian
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a Christian organization or chur ...
also survives in some church communities. Often the implication of religion for law is unalterability, because the word of God cannot be amended or legislated against by judges or governments. However, a thorough and detailed legal system generally requires human elaboration. For instance, the
Quran The Quran (, ; Standard Arabic: , Classical Arabic, Quranic Arabic: , , 'the recitation'), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be a revelation in Islam, revelation from God in Islam, ...
has some law, and it acts as a source of further law through interpretation, ''
Qiyas In Fiqh, Islamic jurisprudence, qiyas ( ar, قياس , ":wikt:analogy#Verb, analogy") is the process of Deductive reasoning, deductive analogy in which the teachings of the hadith are compared and contrasted with those of the Quran, in order to ...
'' (reasoning by analogy), ''
Ijma ''Ijmāʿ'' ( ar, إجماع , ":wikt:consensus, consensus") is an Arabic term referring to the consensus or agreement of the Islamic community on a point of Islamic law. Sunni Muslims regard ''ijmā as one of the secondary sources of Sharia, Sha ...
'' (consensus) and
precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. Common-law legal systems place great ...
. This is mainly contained in a body of law and jurisprudence known as
Sharia Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a body of religious law that forms a part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the Five Pillars of Islam, religious precepts of Islam and is based on the Islamic holy books, sacred scriptures o ...
and
Fiqh ''Fiqh'' (; ar, فقه ) is Islamic jurisprudence. Muhammad-> Sahabah, Companions-> Tabi‘un, Followers-> Fiqh. The commands and prohibitions chosen by God were revealed through the agency of the Prophet in both the Quran and the Sunnah (wo ...
respectively. Another example is the
Torah The Torah (; hbo, ''Tōrā'', "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Book of Genesis, Genesis, Book of Exodus, Exodus, Leviticus, Book of Numbers, Numbers a ...
or
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (;
, in the
Pentateuch The Torah (; hbo, ''Tōrā'', "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Book of Genesis, Genesis, Book of Exodus, Exodus, Leviticus, Book of Numbers, Numbers a ...
or Five Books of Moses. This contains the basic code of Jewish law, which some Israeli communities choose to use. The
Halakha ''Halakha'' (; he, הֲלָכָה, ), also Romanization of Hebrew, transliterated as ''halacha'', ''halakhah'', and ''halocho'' ( ), is the collective body of Judaism, Jewish religious laws which is derived from the Torah, written and Oral Tora ...
is a code of Jewish law that summarizes some of the Talmud's interpretations. Nevertheless,
Israeli law Israeli law is based mostly on a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opi ...
allows
litigant - A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the Civil law (common law), civil court of law. The archaic term "suit in law" is found in only a small number of laws still in effect today. The term "lawsuit" is used in re ...
s to use religious laws only if they choose. Canon law is only in use by members of the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
, the
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptized members. It operates as a Communion (Christ ...
and the
Anglican Communion The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion after the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Founded in 1867 in London, the communion has more than 85 million members within the Church of England T ...
.


Canon law

Canon law (from
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
''kanon'', a 'straight measuring rod,
ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule, line gauge, or scale, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction industries, to distance measurement, measure distances or draw straight lines. Variant ...
') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority (Church leadership), for the government of a Christian organisation or church and its members. It is the internal
ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor Some countries allow their highest judicial authority to overrule legislation they determine to be
unconstitutional Constitutionality is said to be the condition of acting in accordance with an applicable constitution; "Webster On Line" the status of a law, a procedure, or an act's accordance with the laws or set forth in the applicable constitution. When l ...
. For example, in '' Brown v. Board of Education'', the United States Supreme Court nullified many state statutes that had established racially segregated schools, finding such statutes to be incompatible with the Fourteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the nat ...
. A judiciary is theoretically bound by the constitution, just as all other government bodies are. In most countries judges may only interpret the constitution and all other laws. But in common law countries, where matters are not constitutional, the judiciary may also create law under the doctrine of precedent. The UK, Finland and New Zealand assert the ideal of
parliamentary sovereignty Parliamentary sovereignty, also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy, is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. It holds that the legislative body has absolute sovereignty and is supreme over all ...
, whereby the unelected judiciary may not overturn law passed by a democratic legislature. In
communist state A communist state, also known as a Marxist–Leninist state, is a one-party state that is administered and governed by a communist party guided by Marxism–Leninism. Marxism–Leninism was the Ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet U ...
s, such as China, the courts are often regarded as parts of the executive, or subservient to the legislature; governmental institutions and actors exert thus various forms of influence on the judiciary. In Muslim countries, courts often examine whether state laws adhere to the Sharia: the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt may invalidate such laws,Sherif, ''Constitutions of Arab Countries'', 158 and in Iran the
Guardian Council The Guardian Council, (also called Council of Guardians or Constitutional Council, fa, شورای نگهبان, Shourā-ye Negahbān) is an appointed and constitutionally mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence i ...
ensures the compatibility of the legislation with the "criteria of Islam".


Legislature

Prominent examples of legislatures are the
Houses of Parliament The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the ...
in London, the
Congress A congress is a formal meeting of the Representative democracy, representatives of different countries, constituent states, organizations, trade unions, political party, political parties, or other groups. The term originated in Late Middle Eng ...
in Washington, D.C., the
Bundestag The Bundestag (, "Federal Diet (assembly), Diet") is the German Federalism, federal parliament. It is the only federal representative body that is directly elected by the German people. It is comparable to the United States House of Representat ...
in Berlin, the
Duma A duma (russian: дума) is a History of Russia, Russian assembly with advisory or legislative functions. The term ''boyar duma'' is used to refer to advisory councils in Russia from the 10th to 17th centuries. Starting in the 18th century, c ...
in Moscow, the Parlamento Italiano in Rome and the ''Assemblée nationale'' in Paris. By the principle of representative government people vote for politicians to carry out ''their'' wishes. Although countries like Israel, Greece, Sweden and China are
unicameral Unicameralism (from ''uni''- "one" + Latin ''camera'' "chamber") is a type of legislature, which consists of one house or assembly, that legislates and votes as one. Unicameral legislatures exist when there is no widely perceived need for multic ...
, most countries are
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided into two separate Deliberative assembly, assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and ...
, meaning they have two separately appointed legislative houses.Riker, ''The Justification of Bicameralism'', 101 In the 'lower house' politicians are elected to represent smaller
constituencies An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, or (election) precinct is a subdivision of a larger state (a country A country is a distinct part o ...
. The 'upper house' is usually elected to represent states in a federal system (as in Australia, Germany or the United States) or different voting configuration in a unitary system (as in France). In the UK the upper house is appointed by the government as a house of review. 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. This can minimise arbitrariness and injustice in governmental action. To pass legislation, a majority of the members of a legislature must
vote Voting is a method by which a group, such as a meeting or an Constituency, electorate, can engage for the purpose of making a collective decision making, decision or expressing an opinion usually following discussions, debates or election camp ...
for a
bill (proposed law) A bill is proposed legislation under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature as well as, in most cases, approved by the Executive (government), executive. Once a bill has been enacted into ...
in each house. Normally there will be several readings and amendments proposed by the different political factions. If a country has an entrenched constitution, a special majority for changes to the constitution may be required, making changes to the law more difficult. A government usually leads the process, which can be formed from Members of Parliament (e.g. the UK or Germany). However, in a presidential system, the government is usually formed by an executive and his or her appointed cabinet officials (e.g. the United States or Brazil).


Executive

The executive in a legal system serves as the centre of political
authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is a social science that focuses on society, human social behavior, patterns of Interpersonal ties, social relationships, social interaction, and aspects of culture associated with everyday life. It use ...
of the
State State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, U ...
. In a
parliamentary system A parliamentary system, or parliamentarian democracy, is a system of democracy, democratic government, governance of a sovereign state, state (or subordinate entity) where the Executive (government), executive derives its democratic legitimacy ...
, 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 The head of government is the highest or the second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presid ...
, whose office holds power under the
confidence Confidence is a state of being clear-headed either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Confidence comes from a Latin word 'fidere' which means "to trust"; therefore, having ...
of the legislature. Because popular elections appoint political parties to govern, the leader of a party can change in between elections.Haggard, ''Presidents, Parliaments and Policy'', 71 The
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "
he head of state He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun), an English pronoun * He (kana), the romanization of the Japanese kana へ * He (letter) He is the fifth Letter (alphabet), letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician alphabet, Phoenic ...
being an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international p ...
is apart from the executive, and symbolically enacts laws and acts as representative of the nation. Examples include the
President of Germany The president of Germany, officially the Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany (german: link=no, Bundespräsident der Bundesrepublik Deutschland),The official title within Germany is ', with ' being added in international corres ...
(appointed by members of federal and state legislatures), the
Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy, constitutional form of government by which a hereditary monarchy, hereditary sovereign reigns as the head of state of the United ...
(an hereditary office), and the
President of Austria The president of Austria (german: Bundespräsident der Republik Österreich) is the head of state of the Austria, Republic of Austria. Though theoretically entrusted with great power by the Constitution of Austria, Constitution, in practice the ...
(elected by popular vote). The other important model is the
presidential system A presidential system, or single executive system, is a form of government in which a head of government, typically with the title of President (government title), president, leads an Executive (government), executive branch that is separate from ...
, found in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
and in
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
. In presidential systems, the executive acts as both head of state and head of government, and has power to appoint an unelected cabinet. Under a presidential system, the executive branch is separate from the legislature to which it is not accountable. Although the role of the executive varies from country to country, usually it will propose the majority of legislation, and propose government agenda. In presidential systems, the executive often has the power to veto legislation. Most executives in both systems are responsible for
foreign relations A State (polity), state's foreign policy or external policy (as opposed to internal or domestic policy) is its objectives and activities in relation to its interactions with other states, unions, and other political entities, whether bilaterall ...
, the military and police, and the bureaucracy. Ministers or other officials head a country's public offices, such as a
foreign ministry In many countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the government department responsible for the state's diplomacy, bilateralism, bilateral, and multilateralism, multilateral relations affairs as well as for providing support for a country's citi ...
or defence ministry. The election of a different executive is therefore capable of revolutionising an entire country's approach to government.


Military and police

While military organisations have existed as long as government itself, the idea of a standing police force is a relatively modern concept. For example,
Medieval England England in the Middle Ages concerns the history of England during the Middle Ages, medieval period, from the end of the 5th century through to the start of the Early modern Britain, Early Modern period in 1485. When England emerged from the coll ...
's system of travelling criminal courts, or
assizes The courts of assize, or assizes (), were periodic courts held around England and Wales until 1972, when together with the quarter sessions they were abolished by the Courts Act 1971 and replaced by a single permanent Crown Court. The assizes ex ...
, used
show trial A show trial is a public trial in which the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt (law), guilt or innocence of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal the presentation of both the accusation and the verdict to the ...
s and public executions to instill communities with fear to maintain control. The first modern police were probably those in 17th-century Paris, in the court of
Louis XIV Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was List of French monarchs, King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the Li ...
, although the Paris Prefecture of Police claim they were the world's first uniformed policemen.
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist and political economy, political economist, who is regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, ...
famously argued that the state is that which controls the monopoly on the legitimate use of force.Weber, Politics as a Vocation The military and police carry out enforcement at the request of the government or the courts. The term
failed state A failed state is a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign ''Sovereign'' is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed ...
refers to states that cannot implement or enforce policies; their police and military no longer control security and order and society moves into anarchy, the absence of government.


Bureaucracy

The etymology of ''bureaucracy'' derives from the French word for ''office'' (''bureau'') and the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
for word ''power'' (''kratos''). Like the military and police, a legal system's government servants and bodies that make up its bureaucracy carry out the directives of the executive. One of the earliest references to the concept was made by Baron de Grimm, a German author who lived in France. In 1765, he wrote:
The real spirit of the laws in France is that bureaucracy of which the late Monsieur de Gournay used to complain so greatly; here the offices, clerks, secretaries, inspectors and ''intendants'' are not appointed to benefit the public interest, indeed the public interest appears to have been established so that offices might exist.
Cynicism over "officialdom" is still common, and the workings of public servants is typically contrasted to
private enterprise A privately held company (or simply a private company) is a company whose shares and related rights or obligations are not offered for public subscription or publicly negotiated in the respective listed markets, but rather the company's stock is ...
motivated by
profit Profit may refer to: Business and law * Profit (accounting) Profit, in accounting, is an income distributed to the ownership , owner in a Profit (economics) , profitable market production process (business). Profit is a measure of profi ...
. In fact private companies, especially large ones, also have bureaucracies.Kettl, ''Public Bureaucracies'', 367 Negative perceptions of "
red tape Red tape is an idiom An idiom is a phrase or expression that typically presents a Literal and figurative language, figurative, non-literal meaning (linguistic), meaning attached to the phrase; but some phrases become figurative idioms while r ...
" aside, public services such as schooling, health care, policing or public transport are considered a crucial state function making public bureaucratic action the locus of government power. Writing in the early 20th century, Max Weber believed that a definitive feature of a developed state had come to be its bureaucratic support.Weber, ''Economy and Society'', I, 393 Weber wrote that the typical characteristics of modern bureaucracy are that officials define its mission, the scope of work is bound by rules, and management is composed of career experts who manage top down, communicating through writing and binding public servants' discretion with rules.


Legal profession

A corollary of the rule of law is the existence of a legal profession sufficiently autonomous to invoke the authority of the independent judiciary; the right to assistance of a
barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialise in courtroom advocacy and litigation. Their tasks include taking cases in superior courts and tribunals, drafting legal pleadings, rese ...
in a court proceeding emanates from this corollary—in England the function of barrister or advocate is distinguished from legal counselor. As the European Court of Human Rights has stated, the law should be adequately accessible to everyone and people should be able to foresee how the law affects them. In order to maintain professionalism, the
practice of law In its most general sense, the practice of law involves giving legal advice to clients, drafting legal documents for clients, and representing clients in legal negotiations and court proceedings such as lawsuits, and is applied to the professio ...
is typically overseen by either a government or independent regulating body such as a
bar association A bar association is a professional association A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organization, or professional society) usually seeks to advocacy, further a particular profession, the interests of ind ...
,
bar council {{see also, Bar association A bar council ( ga, Comhairle an Bharra) or bar association, in a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi- ...
or
law society A law society is an association of lawyers with a regulatory role that includes the right to supervise the training, qualifications, and conduct of lawyers. Where there is a distinction between barristers and solicitors, solicitors are regulated ...
. Modern lawyers achieve distinct professional identity through specified legal procedures (e.g. successfully passing a qualifying examination), are required by law to have a special qualification (a legal education earning the student a
Bachelor of Laws Bachelor of Laws ( la, Legum Baccalaureus; LL.B.) is an undergraduate law degree in the United Kingdom and most common law jurisdictions. Bachelor of Laws is also the name of the law degree awarded by universities in the People's Republic of C ...
, a
Bachelor of Civil Law Bachelor of Civil Law (abbreviated BCL, or B.C.L.; la, Baccalaureus Civilis Legis) is the name of various degrees in law conferred by English-language universities. The BCL originated as a postgraduate degree in the universities of University of O ...
, or a
Juris Doctor The Juris Doctor (J.D. or JD), also known as Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D., JD, D.Jur., or DJur), is a graduate-entry professional degree in law and one of several Doctor of Law degrees. The J.D. is the standard degree obtained to practice l ...
degree. Higher academic degrees may also be pursued. Examples include a
Master of Laws A Master of Laws (M.L. or LL.M.; Latin: ' or ') is an advanced postgraduate academic degree, pursued by those either holding an undergraduate academic law degree, a professional law degree, or an undergraduate degree in a related subject. In mos ...
, a Master of Legal Studies, a
Bar Professional Training Course The Bar Professional Training Course or BPTC is a Postgraduate education, postgraduate course which allows law graduates to be named and practise as barristers in England and Wales. The eight institutes that run the BPTC along with the four pres ...
or a
Doctor of Laws A Doctor of Law is a degree in law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definit ...
.), and are constituted in office by legal forms of appointment ( being admitted to the bar). There are few titles of respect to signify famous lawyers, such as
Esquire Esquire (, ; abbreviated Esq.) is usually a courtesy title. In the United Kingdom, ''esquire'' historically was a title of respect accorded to men of higher social rank, particularly members of the landed gentry above the rank of gentleman a ...
, to indicate barristers of greater dignity, and
Doctor of law A Doctor of Law is a degree in law. The application of the term varies from country to country and includes degrees such as the Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D. or S.J.D), Juris Doctor (J.D.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), and Legum Doctor (LL. ...
, to indicate a person who obtained a
PhD PHD or PhD may refer to: * Doctor of Philosophy A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin: or ') is the most common Academic degree, degree at the highest academic level awarded following a course of study. PhDs are awarded for pro ...
in Law. Many Muslim countries have developed similar rules about legal education and the legal profession, but some still allow lawyers with training in traditional Islamic law to practice law before personal status law courts. In China and other developing countries there are not sufficient professionally trained people to staff the existing judicial systems, and, accordingly, formal standards are more relaxed. Once accredited, a lawyer will often work in a
law firm A law firm is a business entity formed by one or more lawyers to engage in the practice of law. The primary service rendered by a law firm is to advise consumer, clients (individuals or corporations) about their legal rights and Obligation, respon ...
, in a chambers as a sole practitioner, in a government post or in a private corporation as an internal
counsel A counsel or a counsellor at law is a person who gives advice and deals with various issues, particularly in law, legal matters. It is a title often used interchangeably with the title of ''lawyer''. The word ''counsel'' can also mean advice g ...
. In addition a lawyer may become a
legal research Legal research is "the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support Law, legal decision-making. In its broadest sense, legal research includes each step of a course of action that begins with an analysis of the facts of a ...
er 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.Fine, ''The Globalisation of Legal Education'', 364 Significant to the practice of law in the common law tradition is the legal research to determine the current state of the law. This usually entails exploring case-law reports, legal periodicals and legislation. Law practice also involves drafting documents such as court
pleading In law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstandin ...
s, persuasive
briefs Briefs (or a brief) are a type of short, form-fitting Undergarment, underwear and swimsuit, swimwear, as opposed to styles where material extends down the thighs. Briefs have various different styles, usually with a waistband attached to fabric ...
, contracts, or wills and trusts. Negotiation and dispute resolution skills (including ADR techniques) are also important to legal practice, depending on the field.


Civil society

The Classical republican concept of "civil society" dates back to Hobbes and Locke. Locke saw civil society as people who have "a common established law and judicature to appeal to, with authority to decide controversies between them." German philosopher
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (; ; 27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831) was a German philosopher. He is one of the most important figures in German idealism and one of the founding figures of 19th century philosophy, modern Western philosophy. ...
distinguished the "state" from "civil society" (''bürgerliche Gesellschaft'') in ''
Elements of the Philosophy of Right ''Elements of the Philosophy of Right'' (german: Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts) is a work by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (; ; 27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831) was a German philosopher. He is on ...
''. Hegel believed that
civil society Civil society can be understood as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government and business, and including the family and the private sphere. Hulme and Edwards suggested that it was now seen as "the magic bullet." By the end of th ...
and the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, U ...
were polar opposites, within the scheme of his dialectic theory of history. The modern dipole state–civil society was reproduced in the theories of
Alexis de Tocqueville Alexis Charles Henri Clérel, comte de Tocqueville (; 29 July 180516 April 1859), colloquially known as Tocqueville (), was a French Aristocracy (class), aristocrat, diplomat, Political science, political scientist, political philosopher and hi ...
and
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist, Critique of political economy, critic of political economy, and socialist revolutionary. His be ...
. In post-modern theory, civil society is necessarily a source of law, by being the basis from which people form opinions and lobby for what they believe law should be. As Australian barrister and author Geoffrey Robertson QC wrote of international law, "one of its primary modern sources is found in the responses of ordinary men and women, and of the non-governmental organizations which many of them support, to the human rights abuses they see on the television screen in their living rooms."
Freedom of speech Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The rights, right to freedom of expression has been ...
,
freedom of association Freedom of association encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members, and the right of an club (organization), association to ac ...
and many other individual rights allow people to gather, discuss, criticise and hold to account their governments, from which the basis of a
deliberative democracy Deliberative democracy or discursive democracy is a form of democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the author ...
is formed. The more people are involved with, concerned by and capable of changing how political power is exercised over their lives, the more acceptable and legitimate the law becomes to the people. The most familiar institutions of civil society include economic markets, profit-oriented firms, families, trade unions, hospitals, universities, schools, charities, debating clubs, non-governmental organisations, neighbourhoods, churches, and religious associations. There is no clear legal definition of the civil society, and of the institutions it includes. Most of the institutions and bodies who try to give a list of institutions (such as the European Economic and Social Committee) exclude the political parties.


Areas of law

All legal systems deal with the same basic issues, but jurisdictions categorise and identify their legal topics in different ways. A common distinction is that between "
public law Public law is the part of law that governs relations between legal persons and a government, between different institutions within a State (polity), state, between Separation of powers, different branches of governments, as well as relationship ...
" (a term related closely to the
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, U ...
, and including constitutional, administrative and criminal law), and "
private law Private law is that part of a civil law (legal system), civil law legal system which is part of the ''jus commune'' that involves relationships between individuals, such as the law of contracts and torts (as it is called in the common law), and t ...
" (which covers contract,
tort A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. Tort law can be contrasted with criminal law, which deals with criminal wrongs that are punishab ...
and property). In civil law systems, contract and tort fall under a general
law of obligations The law of obligations is one branch of private law under the civil law (legal system), civil law legal system and so-called "mixed" legal systems. It is the body of rules that organizes and regulates the rights and duties arising between individua ...
, while trusts law is dealt with under statutory regimes or international conventions. International, constitutional and administrative law, criminal law, contract, tort, property law and trusts are regarded as the "traditional core subjects", although there are many further disciplines.


International law

International law International law (also known as public international law and the law of nations) is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between State (polity), states. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptua ...
can refer to three things: public international law, private international law or conflict of laws and the law of supranational organisations. *
Public international law International law (also known as public international law and the law of nations) is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally recognized as binding between State (polity), states. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptua ...
concerns relationships between sovereign nations. The
sources Source may refer to: Research * Historical document * Historical source * Source (intelligence) or sub source, typically a confidential provider of non open-source intelligence * Source (journalism), a person, publication, publishing institute o ...
for public international law development are
custom Custom, customary, or consuetudinary may refer to: Traditions, laws, and religion * Convention (norm), a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted rules, norms, standards or criteria, often taking the form of a custom * Norm (social), a r ...
, practice and treaties between sovereign nations, such as the
Geneva Conventions file:Geneva Convention 1864 - CH-BAR - 29355687.pdf, upright=1.15, Original document in single pages, 1864 The Geneva Conventions are four Treaty, treaties, and three additional Protocol (diplomacy), protocols, that establish international law ...
. Public international law can be formed by
international organisations An international organization or international organisation (see American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), spelling differences), also known as an intergovernmental organization or an international instit ...
, such as the United Nations (which was established after the failure of the
League of Nations The League of Nations (french: link=no, Société des Nations ) was the first worldwide Intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. It was founded on 10 January 1920 by ...
to prevent World War II), the International Labour Organisation, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), or the
International Monetary Fund The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a major financial agency of the United Nations, and an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C., consisting of 190 countries. Its stated mission is "working to foster globa ...
. Public international law has a special status as law because there is no international police force, and courts (e.g. the
International Court of Justice The International Court of Justice (ICJ; french: Cour internationale de justice, links=no; ), sometimes known as the World Court, is one of the United Nations System#Six principal organs, six principal organs of the United Nations (UN). It s ...
as the primary UN judicial organ) lack the capacity to penalise disobedience. The prevailing manner of enforcing international law is still essentially "self help"; that is the reaction by states to alleged breaches of international obligations by other states. However, a few bodies, such as the WTO, have effective systems of binding arbitration and dispute resolution backed up by trade sanctions. *
Conflict of laws Conflict of laws (also called private international law) is the set of rules or laws a jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In fe ...
, or private international law in civil law countries, concerns which
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. Jur ...
a legal dispute between private parties should be heard in and which jurisdiction's law should be applied. Today, businesses are increasingly capable of shifting
capital Capital may refer to: Common uses * Capital city, a municipality of primary status ** List of national capitals, List of national capital cities * Capital letter, an upper-case letter Economics and social sciences * Capital (economics), the dura ...
and labour supply chains across borders, as well as trading with overseas businesses, making the question of which country has jurisdiction even more pressing. Increasing numbers of businesses opt for commercial arbitration under the New York Convention 1958. *
European Union law European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union (EU). Since the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community following World War II, the EU has developed the aim to "promote peace, its value ...
is the first and so far the only example of a supranational law, i.e. an internationally accepted legal system, other than the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be ...
and the
World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization Globalization is social change associated with increased connectivity among societies and their elements and the explosive evolution of transportation and telecommunica ...
. Given the trend of increasing global economic integration, many regional agreements—especially the
African Union The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of member states of the African Union, 55 member states located on the continent of Africa. The AU was announced in the Sirte Declaration in Sirte, Libya, on 9 September 1999, calling fo ...
—seek to follow a similar model. In the EU, sovereign nations have gathered their authority in a system of courts and the
European Parliament The European Parliament (EP) is one of the Legislature, legislative bodies of the European Union and one of its seven Institutions of the European Union, institutions. Together with the Council of the European Union (known as the Council and in ...
. These institutions are allowed the ability to enforce legal norms both against or for member states and citizens in a manner which is not possible through public international law. As the
European Court of Justice The European Court of Justice (ECJ, french: Cour de Justice européenne), formally just the Court of Justice, is the supreme court of the European Union in matters of European Union law. As a part of the Court of Justice of the European Unio ...
noted in its 1963 Van Gend en Loos decision, European Union law constitutes "a new legal order of international law" for the mutual social and economic benefit of the member states.


Constitutional and administrative law

Constitutional and administrative law govern the affairs of the state. Constitutional law concerns both the relationships between the executive, legislature and judiciary and the human rights or
civil liberties Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation, or judicial interpretation, without due process. Though the scope of the term differs between countries, civil liberties may ...
of individuals against the state. Most jurisdictions, like the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
and
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
, have a single codified constitution with a
bill of rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against Civil and political rights, infringement fr ...
. A few, like the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
, have no such document. A "constitution" is simply those laws which constitute the
body politic The body politic is a polity—such as a city, realm, or state (polity), state—considered metaphorically as a physical body. Historically, the sovereign is typically portrayed as the body's head, and the analogy may also be extended to other a ...
, from
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislature, legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, State (polity), state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare Public p ...
,
case law Case law, also used interchangeably with common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in writt ...
and convention. A case named '' Entick v Carrington'' illustrates a constitutional principle deriving from the common law. Entick's house was searched and ransacked by Sheriff Carrington. When Entick complained in court, Sheriff Carrington argued that a warrant from a Government minister, the Earl of Halifax, was valid authority. However, there was no written statutory provision or court authority. The leading judge, Lord Camden, stated:
The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their property. That right is preserved sacred and incommunicable in all instances, where it has not been taken away or abridged by some public law for the good of the whole ... If no excuse can be found or produced, the silence of the books is an authority against the defendant, and the plaintiff must have judgment.
The fundamental constitutional principle, inspired by
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "father of liberalism ...
, holds that the individual can do anything except that which is forbidden by law, and the state may do nothing except that which is authorised by law. Administrative law is the chief method for people to hold state bodies to account. People can sue an agency, local council, public service, or government ministry for
judicial review Judicial review is a process under which executive, legislative and administrative actions are subject to review by the judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and cou ...
of actions or decisions, to ensure that they comply with the law, and that the government entity observed required procedure. The first specialist administrative court was the '' Conseil d'État'' set up in 1799, as
Napoleon Napoleon Bonaparte ; it, Napoleone Bonaparte, ; co, Napulione Buonaparte. (born Napoleone Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821), later known by his regnal name Napoleon I, was a French military commander and political leader who ...
assumed power in France.Auby, ''Administrative Law in France'', 75 A subdiscipline of constitutional law is
election law Election law is a branch of public law that relates to the democratic processes, election of representatives and office holders, and referendums, through the regulation of the electoral system, Suffrage, voting rights, ballot access, Election com ...
. It deals with rules governing elections. These rules enable the translation of the will of the people into functioning
democracies Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
. Election law addresses issues who is entitled to
vote Voting is a method by which a group, such as a meeting or an Constituency, electorate, can engage for the purpose of making a collective decision making, decision or expressing an opinion usually following discussions, debates or election camp ...
,
voter registration In electoral system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and Referendum, referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Electoral systems are used in politics to elect government ...
, ballot access,
campaign finance Campaign finance, also known as election finance or political donations, refers to the funds raised to promote candidates, Political party, political parties, or policy initiatives and referendums. Political parties, charitable organizations, a ...
and party funding,
redistricting Redistribution (re-districting in the United States and in the Philippines) is the process by which electoral districts are added, removed, or otherwise changed. Redistribution is a form of boundary delimitation that changes electoral distr ...
, apportionment,
electronic voting Electronic voting (also known as e-voting) is voting that uses Electronics, electronic means to either aid or take care of casting and counting ballots. Depending on the particular implementation, e-voting may use standalone ''electronic voting ...
and voting machines,
accessibility Accessibility is the design of products, devices, services, vehicles, or environments so as to be usable by people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design and practice of accessible development ensures both "direct access" (i.e ...
of elections, election systems and formulas, vote counting, election disputes,
referendums A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics, a directed set (or a directed preorder or a filtered set) is a nonempty Set (mathematics), set A to ...
, and issues such as
electoral fraud Electoral fraud, sometimes referred to as election manipulation, voter fraud or vote rigging, involves illegal interference with the process of an election, either by increasing the vote share of a favored candidate, depressing the vote share of ...
and electoral silence.


Criminal law

Criminal law, also known as penal law, pertains to crimes and punishment. It thus regulates the definition of and penalties for offences found to have a sufficiently deleterious social impact but, in itself, makes no moral judgment on an offender nor imposes restrictions on society that physically prevent people from committing a crime in the first place.Brody, Acker and Logan, ''Criminal Law'', 2; Wilson, ''Criminal Law'', 2 Investigating, apprehending, charging, and trying suspected offenders is regulated by the law of
criminal procedure Criminal procedure is the adjudication process of the criminal law. While criminal procedure differs dramatically by jurisdiction, the process generally begins with a formal criminal charge with the person on trial either being free on bail or i ...
.Dennis J. Baker, Glanville Williams ''Textbook of Criminal Law'' (London: 2012), 2 The
paradigm In science and philosophy, a paradigm () is a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns, including theories, research methods, postulates, and standards for what constitute legitimate contributions to a field. Etymology ''Paradigm'' comes f ...
case of a crime lies in the proof,
beyond reasonable doubt Beyond a reasonable doubt is a legal standard of proof required to validate a criminal conviction in most adversarial legal systems. It is a higher standard of proof than the balance of probabilities standard commonly used in civil cases, be ...
, that a person is guilty of two things. First, the accused must commit an act which is deemed by society to be criminal, or ''
actus reus (), sometimes called the Element (criminal law), external element or the objective element of a crime, is the Law Latin term for the "guilty act" which, when proved beyond a reasonable doubt in combination with the ("guilty mind"), produces cr ...
'' (guilty act). Second, the accused must have the requisite malicious intent to do a criminal act, or ''
mens rea In criminal law, (; Law Latin for "guilty mind") is the Mental state, mental element of a person's Intention (criminal law), intention to commit a crime; or knowledge that one's action (or Omission (law), lack of action) would cause a crime to ...
'' (guilty mind). However, for so called "
strict liability In criminal law, criminal and Civil law (common law), civil law, strict liability is a standard of Public liability, liability under which a person is legally responsible for the consequences flowing from an activity even in the absence of Tort ...
" crimes, an ''actus reus'' is enough. Criminal systems of the civil law tradition distinguish between intention in the broad sense (''dolus directus'' and ''dolus eventualis''), and negligence. Negligence does not carry criminal responsibility unless a particular crime provides for its punishment. Examples of crimes include murder, assault, fraud and theft. In exceptional circumstances defences can apply to specific acts, such as killing in self defence, or pleading
insanity Insanity, madness, lunacy, and craziness are behaviors performed by certain Abnormality (behavior), abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity can be manifest as violations of Norm (sociology), societal norms, including a person or perso ...
. Another example is in the 19th-century English case of '' R v Dudley and Stephens'', which tested a defence of " necessity". The ''Mignonette'', sailing from
Southampton Southampton () is a port City status in the United Kingdom, city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire in southern England. It is located approximately south-west of London and west of Portsmouth. The city forms part of the South Hampshire, S ...
to Sydney, sank. Three crew members and Richard Parker, a 17-year-old cabin boy, were stranded on a raft. They were starving and the cabin boy was close to death. Driven to extreme hunger, the crew killed and ate the cabin boy. The crew survived and were rescued, but put on trial for murder. They argued it was necessary to kill the cabin boy to preserve their own lives. Lord Coleridge, expressing immense disapproval, ruled, "to preserve one's life is generally speaking a duty, but it may be the plainest and the highest duty to sacrifice it." The men were sentenced to hang, but public opinion was overwhelmingly supportive of the crew's right to preserve their own lives. In the end, the
Crown A crown is a traditional form of head adornment, or hat, worn by monarchs as a symbol of their power and dignity. A crown is often, by extension, a symbol of the monarch's government or items endorsed by it. The word itself is used, partic ...
commuted their sentences to six months in jail. Criminal law offences are viewed as offences against not just individual victims, but the community as well. The state, usually with the help of police, takes the lead in prosecution, which is why in common law countries cases are cited as "''The People'' v ..." or "''R'' (for Rex or Regina) v ...". Also, lay
juries A jury is a sworn body of people (jurors) convened to hear evidence and render an impartiality, impartial verdict (a Question of fact, finding of fact on a question) officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a sentence (law), penalty o ...
are often used to determine the guilt of defendants on points of fact: juries cannot change legal rules. Some developed countries still condone capital punishment for criminal activity, but the normal punishment for a crime will be
imprisonment Imprisonment is the restraint of a person's liberty, for any cause whatsoever, whether by authority of the government, or by a person acting without such authority. In the latter case it is "false imprisonment". Imprisonment does not necessari ...
, fines, state supervision (such as probation), or
community service Community service is unpaid work performed by a person or group of people for the benefit and betterment of their community without any form of compensation. Community service can be distinct from volunteering, since it is not always performed ...
. Modern criminal law has been affected considerably by the social sciences, especially with respect to
sentencing In law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstand ...
, legal research, legislation, and rehabilitation. On the international field, 111 countries are
members Member may refer to: * Military jury, referred to as "Members" in military jargon * Element (mathematics), an object that belongs to a mathematical set * In object-oriented programming, a member of a class ** Field (computer science), entries in ...
of the
International Criminal Court The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is an intergovernmental organization and International court, international tribunal seated in The Hague, Netherlands. It is the first and only permanent international court with jurisdiction to pro ...
, which was established to try people for
crimes against humanity Crimes against humanity are widespread or systemic acts committed by or on behalf of a ''de facto'' authority, usually a State (polity), state, that grossly violate human rights. Unlike war crimes, crimes against humanity do not have to take pla ...
.


Contract law

Contract law concerns enforceable promises, and can be summed up in the Latin phrase ''
pacta sunt servanda ''Pacta sunt servanda'', Latin for "agreements must be kept", is a Brocard (law), brocard and a fundamental principle of law. According to Hans Wehberg, a professor of international law, "few rules for the ordering of Society have such a deep mor ...
'' (agreements must be kept). In common law jurisdictions, three key elements to the creation of a contract are necessary:
offer and acceptance Offer and acceptance are generally recognised as essential requirements for the formation of a contract, and analysis of their operation is a traditional approach in contract law A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or m ...
,
consideration Consideration is a concept of English law, English common law and is a necessity for simple contracts but not for special contracts (contracts by deed). The concept has been adopted by other common law jurisdictions. The court in ''Currie v Mis ...
and the intention to create legal relations. In '' Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company'' a medical firm advertised that its new wonder drug, the smokeball, would cure people's flu, and if it did not, the buyers would get £100. Many people sued for their £100 when the drug did not work. Fearing bankruptcy, Carbolic argued the advert was not to be taken as a serious, legally binding offer. It was an invitation to treat, mere puffery, a gimmick. But the Court of Appeal held that to a
reasonable man In law, a reasonable person, reasonable man, or the man on the Clapham omnibus, is a hypothetical person of legal fiction crafted by the courts and communicated through case law and jury instructions. Strictly according to the fiction, it is ...
Carbolic had made a serious offer, accentuated by their reassuring statement, "£1000 is deposited". Equally, people had given good consideration for the offer by going to the "distinct inconvenience" of using a faulty product. "Read the advertisement how you will, and twist it about as you will", said Lord Justice Lindley, "here is a distinct promise expressed in language which is perfectly unmistakable".About
Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company
'' 8931 QB 256, and the element of consideration, see Beale and Tallon, ''Contract Law'', 142–143
Consideration indicates the fact that all parties to a contract have exchanged something of value. Some common law systems, including Australia, are moving away from the idea of consideration as a requirement. The idea of
estoppel Estoppel is a judicial device in common law jurisdictions, common law legal systems whereby a court may prevent or "estop" a person from making assertions or from going back on his or her word; the person being sanctioned is "estopped". Estoppel m ...
or ''culpa in contrahendo'', can be used to create obligations during pre-contractual negotiations. Civil law jurisdictions treat contracts differently in a number of respects, with a more interventionist role for the state in both the formation and enforcement of contracts. Compared to common law jurisdictions, civil law systems incorporate more mandatory terms into contracts, allow greater latitude for courts to interpret and revise contract terms and impose a stronger duty of good faith, but are also more likely to enforce penalty clauses and
specific performance Specific performance is an equitable remedy in the law of contract, whereby a court issues an order requiring a party to perform a specific act, such as to complete performance of the contract. It is typically available in the sale of land law, b ...
of contracts. They also do not require consideration for a contract to be binding. In France, an ordinary contract is said to form simply on the basis of a "meeting of the minds" or a "concurrence of wills".
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
has a special approach to contracts, which ties into property law. Their ' abstraction principle' (''Abstraktionsprinzip'') means that the personal obligation of contract forms separately from the title of property being conferred. When contracts are invalidated for some reason (e.g. a car buyer is so drunk that he lacks legal capacity to contract) the contractual obligation to pay can be invalidated separately from the proprietary title of the car.
Unjust enrichment In Equity (law), laws of equity, unjust enrichment occurs when one person is enriched at the expense of another in circumstances that the law sees as unjust. Where an individual is unjustly enriched, the law imposes an obligation upon the recipien ...
law, rather than contract law, is then used to restore title to the rightful owner.


Torts and delicts

Certain
civil wrong Civil may refer to: * Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit * Civil affairs * Civil and political rights * Civil disobedience *Civil engineering Civil engineering is a Regulation and licensure in engineering, professional en ...
s are grouped together as
tort A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. Tort law can be contrasted with criminal law, which deals with criminal wrongs that are punishab ...
s under common law systems and
delict Delict (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present- ...
s under civil law systems. To have acted tortiously, one must have breached a duty to another person, or infringed some pre-existing legal right. A simple example might be unintentionally hitting someone with a cricket ball. Under the law of
negligence Negligence (Lat. ''negligentia'') is a failure to exercise appropriate and/or ethical ruled care expected to be exercised amongst specified circumstances. The area of tort law known as ''negligence'' involves harm caused by failing to act as a ...
, the most common form of tort, the injured party could potentially claim compensation for their injuries from the party responsible. The principles of negligence are illustrated by ''
Donoghue v Stevenson was a Lists of landmark court decisions, landmark court decision in Scots delict law and English tort law by the House of Lords. It laid the foundation of the modern law of negligence in Common law jurisdictions worldwide, as well as in Scotlan ...
''.''
Donoghue v Stevenson was a Lists of landmark court decisions, landmark court decision in Scots delict law and English tort law by the House of Lords. It laid the foundation of the modern law of negligence in Common law jurisdictions worldwide, as well as in Scotlan ...
'' ( 932A.C._532,_1932_S.C._(H.L.)_31,_[1932All_ER_Rep_1.html" ;"title="932.html" ;"title="932A.C. 532, 1932 S.C. (H.L.) 31, [1932">932A.C. 532, 1932 S.C. (H.L.) 31, [1932All ER Rep 1">932.html" ;"title="932A.C. 532, 1932 S.C. (H.L.) 31, [1932">932A.C. 532, 1932 S.C. (H.L.) 31, [1932All ER Rep 1). See the original text of the case i
UK Law Online
.
A friend of Donoghue ordered an opaque bottle of ginger beer (intended for the consumption of Donoghue) in a café in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Paisley. Having consumed half of it, Donoghue poured the remainder into a tumbler. The decomposing remains of a snail floated out. She claimed to have suffered from shock, fell ill with gastroenteritis and sued the manufacturer for carelessly allowing the drink to be contaminated. The
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
decided that the manufacturer was liable for Mrs Donoghue's illness. Lord Atkin took a distinctly moral approach and said:
The liability for negligence ..is no doubt based upon a general public sentiment of moral wrongdoing for which the offender must pay. ..The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law, you must not injure your neighbour; and the
lawyer A lawyer is a person who practices law. The role of a lawyer varies greatly across different legal jurisdictions. A lawyer can be classified as an advocate, attorney, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction ( ...
's question, Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour.
This became the basis for the four principles of negligence, namely that (1) Stevenson owed Donoghue a
duty of care In tort law A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. Tort law can be contrasted with criminal law, which deals with criminal wrongs t ...
to provide safe drinks; (2) he breached his duty of care; (3) the harm would not have occurred but for his breach; and (4) his act was the
proximate cause In law and insurance, a proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to an injury that the courts deem the event to be the cause of that injury. There are two types of Causation (law), causation in the law: cause-in-fact, and proximate (or ...
of her harm. Another example of tort might be a neighbour making excessively loud noises with machinery on his property.'' Sturges v Bridgman'' (1879) 11 Ch D 852 Under a
nuisance Nuisance (from archaic ''nocence'', through Fr. ''noisance'', ''nuisance'', from Lat. ''nocere'', "to hurt") is a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by jud ...
claim the noise could be stopped. Torts can also involve intentional acts such as
assault An assault is the act of committing physical harm or unwanted physical contact upon a person or, in some specific legal definitions, a threat or attempt to commit such an action. It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in crim ...
, battery or
trespass Trespass is an area of tort law broadly divided into three groups: trespass to the person, trespass to chattels, and trespass to land. Trespass to the person historically involved six separate trespasses: threats, assault, battery, wounding, ...
. A better known tort is
defamation Defamation is the act of communicating to a third party false statements about a person, place or thing that results in damage to its reputation. It can be spoken (slander) or written (libel). It constitutes a tort or a crime. The legal defini ...
, which occurs, for example, when a newspaper makes unsupportable allegations that damage a politician's reputation. More infamous are economic torts, which form the basis of
labour law Labour laws (also known as labor laws or employment laws) are those that mediate the relationship between workers, employing entities, trade unions, and the government. Collective labour law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee, ...
in some countries by making trade unions liable for strikes, when statute does not provide immunity.


Property law

Property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to Consumables, consume, alte ...
law governs ownership and possession.
Real property In English common law, real property, real estate, immovable property or, solely in the US and Canada, realty, is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called Land improvement, improvements or Fixture (property ...
, sometimes called 'real estate', refers to ownership of land and things attached to it.
Personal property Personal property is property that is movable. In common law systems, personal property may also be called chattels or personalty. In civil law (legal system), civil law systems, personal property is often called movable property or movables— ...
, refers to everything else; movable objects, such as computers, cars, jewelry or intangible rights, such as stocks and shares. A right '' in rem'' is a right to a specific piece of property, contrasting to a right ''
in personam ''In personam'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around ...
'' which allows compensation for a loss, but not a particular thing back. Land law forms the basis for most kinds of property law, and is the most complex. It concerns
mortgages A mortgage loan or simply mortgage (), in civil law (legal system), civil law jurisdicions known also as a hypothec loan, is a loan used either by purchasers of real property to raise funds to buy real estate, or by existing property owners ...
, rental agreements, licences, covenants,
easement An easement is a nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another, B". An easement is a propert ...
s and the statutory systems for land registration. Regulations on the use of personal property fall under intellectual property, company law, trusts and
commercial law Commercial law, also known as mercantile law or trade law, is the body of law that applies to the rights, relations, and conduct of persons and business engaged in commerce Commerce is the large-scale organized system of activities, functio ...
. An example of a basic case of most property law is '' Armory v Delamirie'' 722 A
chimney sweep A chimney sweep is a person who clears soot and creosote from chimneys. The chimney uses the stack effect, pressure difference caused by a hot column of gas to create a draught and draw air over the hot coals or wood enabling continued combusti ...
's boy found a jewel encrusted with precious stones. He took it to a goldsmith to have it valued. The goldsmith's apprentice looked at it, sneakily removed the stones, told the boy it was worth three halfpence and that he would buy it. The boy said he would prefer the jewel back, so the apprentice gave it to him, but without the stones. The boy sued the goldsmith for his apprentice's attempt to cheat him. Lord Chief Justice Pratt ruled that even though the boy could not be said to own the jewel, he should be considered the rightful keeper ("finders keepers") until the original owner is found. In fact the apprentice and the boy both had a right of '' possession'' in the jewel (a technical concept, meaning evidence that something ''could'' belong to someone), but the boy's possessory interest was considered better, because it could be shown to be first in time. Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but not all. This case is used to support the view of property in common law jurisdictions, that the person who can show the best claim to a piece of property, against any contesting party, is the owner. By contrast, the classic civil law approach to property, propounded by
Friedrich Carl von Savigny Friedrich Carl von Savigny (21 February 1779 – 25 October 1861) was a German jurist A jurist is a person with expert knowledge of law; someone who analyses and comments on law. This person is usually a specialist legal scholar, mostly (but ...
, is that it is a right good against the world. Obligations, like contracts and torts, are conceptualised as rights good between individuals. The idea of property raises many further philosophical and political issues. Locke argued that our "lives, liberties and estates" are our property because we own our bodies and mix our labour with our surroundings.


Equity and trusts

Equity is a body of rules that developed in England separately from the "common law". The common law was administered by judges and barristers. The
Lord Chancellor The lord chancellor, formally the lord high chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking traditional minister among the Great Officers of State (United Kingdom), Great Officers of State in Scotland and England in the United Kingdom, no ...
on the other hand, as the King's keeper of conscience, could overrule the judge-made law if he thought it equitable to do so. This meant equity came to operate more through
principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a Legal rule, rule that has to be or usually is to be followed. It can be desirably followed, or it can be an inevitable consequence of something, suc ...
than rigid rules. Whereas neither the common law nor civil law systems allow people to split the ownership from the control of one piece of property, equity allows this through an arrangement known as a trust. Trustees control property whereas the beneficial, or equitable, ownership of trust property is held by people known as beneficiaries. Trustees owe duties to their beneficiaries to take good care of the entrusted property. In the early case of '' Keech v Sandford'' 722 a child had inherited the
lease A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the user (referred to as the ''lessee'') to pay the owner (referred to as the Lessor (leasing), ''lessor'') for the use of an asset. Property, buildings and vehicles are common assets that are l ...
on a market in
Romford Romford is a large town in east London and the administrative centre of the London Borough of Havering. It is located northeast of Charing Cross and is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan. Historically, Romford ...
, London. Mr Sandford was entrusted to look after this property until the child matured. But before then, the lease expired. The landlord had (apparently) told Mr Sandford that he did not want the child to have the renewed lease. Yet the landlord was happy (apparently) to give Mr Sandford the opportunity of the lease instead. Mr Sandford took it. When the child (now Mr Keech) grew up, he sued Mr Sandford for the profit that he had been making by getting the market's lease. Mr Sandford was meant to be trusted, but he put himself in a position of
conflict of interest A conflict of interest (COI) is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple wikt:interest#Noun, interests, finance, financial or otherwise, and serving one interest could involve working against another. Typically, t ...
. The
Lord Chancellor The lord chancellor, formally the lord high chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking traditional minister among the Great Officers of State (United Kingdom), Great Officers of State in Scotland and England in the United Kingdom, no ...
, Lord King, agreed and ordered Mr Sandford should disgorge his profits. He wrote: "I very well see, if a trustee, on the refusal to renew, might have a lease to himself few trust-estates would be renewed. ..This may seem very hard, that the trustee is the only person of all mankind who might not have the lease; but it is very proper that the rule should be strictly pursued and not at all relaxed." Lord King LC was worried that trustees might exploit opportunities to use trust property for themselves instead of looking after it. Business speculators using trusts had just recently caused a stock market crash. Strict duties for trustees made their way into company law and were applied to directors and chief executive officers. Another example of a trustee's duty might be to invest property wisely or sell it. This is especially the case for pension funds, the most important form of trust, where investors are trustees for people's savings until retirement. But trusts can also be set up for charitable purposes, famous examples being the
British Museum The British Museum is a public museum dedicated to human history, art and culture located in the Bloomsbury area of London. Its permanent collection of eight million works is among the list of largest art museums, largest and most comprehens ...
or the
Rockefeller Foundation The Rockefeller Foundation is an American private foundation and philanthropy, philanthropic medical research and arts funding organization based at 420 Fifth Avenue, New York City. The second-oldest major philanthropic institution in America, aft ...
.


Further disciplines

Law spreads far beyond the core subjects into virtually every area of life. Three categories are presented for convenience, although the subjects intertwine and overlap. ; Law and society *
Labour law Labour laws (also known as labor laws or employment laws) are those that mediate the relationship between workers, employing entities, trade unions, and the government. Collective labour law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee, ...
is the study of a tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union. This involves
collective bargaining Collective bargaining is a process of negotiation between employers and a group of employees aimed at agreements to regulate working salaries, working conditions, benefits, and other aspects of workers' compensation and rights for workers. The i ...
regulation, and the right to strike. Individual employment law refers to workplace rights, such as
job security Job security is the probability that an individual will keep their job; a job with a high level of security is such that a person with the job would have a small chance of losing it. Many factors threaten job security: globalization, outsourcing ...
, Occupational safety and health, health and safety or a minimum wage. * Human rights, Civil and political rights, civil rights and human rights law are important fields to guarantee everyone basic freedoms and entitlements. These are laid down in codes such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights (which founded the European Court of Human Rights) and the United States Bill of Rights, U.S. Bill of Rights. The Treaty of Lisbon makes the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union legally binding in all member states Opt-outs in the European Union#Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – Poland, except Poland and the United Kingdom. * Civil procedure and
criminal procedure Criminal procedure is the adjudication process of the criminal law. While criminal procedure differs dramatically by jurisdiction, the process generally begins with a formal criminal charge with the person on trial either being free on bail or i ...
concern the rules that courts must follow as a trial and appeals proceed. Both concern a citizen's right to a fair trial or hearing. * Evidence (law), Evidence law involves which materials are admissible in courts for a case to be built. * Immigration law and nationality law concern the rights of foreigners to live and work in a nation-state that is not their own and to acquire or lose citizenship. Both also involve the right of asylum and the problem of statelessness, stateless individuals. * Social security law refers to the rights people have to social insurance, such as jobseekers' allowances or housing benefits. * Family law covers marriage and divorce proceedings, the rights of children and rights to property and money in the event of separation. * Transactional law is the practice of law concerning business and money. ; Law and commerce * Company law sprang from the law of trusts, on the principle of separating ownership of property and control. The law of the modern company (law), 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 Juristic person, separate legal personality of the corporation. * Commercial law covers complex contract and property law. The law of Sgency (law), agency, insurance law, Negotiable instrument, bills of exchange, insolvency and bankruptcy law and sales law are all important, and trace back to the medieval ''Law Merchant, Lex Mercatoria''. The UK Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the US Uniform Commercial Code are examples of codified common law commercial principles. * Admiralty law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, sea law lay a basic framework for free trade and commerce across the world's oceans and seas, where outside of a country's zone of control. Shipping companies operate through ordinary principles of commercial law, generalised for a global market. Admiralty law also encompasses specialised issues such as marine salvage, salvage, Lien#Maritime liens, maritime liens, and injuries to passengers. * Intellectual property law aims at safeguarding creators and other producers of intellectual goods and services. These are legal rights (copyrights, trademarks, patents, and related rights) which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, literary and artistic fields. * Restitution deals with the recovery of someone else's gain, rather than Damages, compensation for one's own loss. *
Unjust enrichment In Equity (law), laws of equity, unjust enrichment occurs when one person is enriched at the expense of another in circumstances that the law sees as unjust. Where an individual is unjustly enriched, the law imposes an obligation upon the recipien ...
When someone has been unjustly enriched (or there is an "absence of basis" for a transaction) at another's expense, this event generates the right to restitution to reverse that gain. * Space law is a relatively new field dealing with aspects of international law regarding human activities in Earth orbit and outer space. While at first addressing space relations of countries via treaties, increasingly it is addressing areas such as commercialization of space, space commercialisation, property, liability, and other issues. ; Law and regulation * Tax law involves regulations that concern value added tax, corporate tax, and income tax. * Bank regulation, Banking law and financial regulation set minimum standards on the amounts of capital banks must hold, and rules about best practice for investment. This is to insure against the risk of economic crises, such as the Wall Street Crash of 1929. * Regulation deals with the provision of public services and utilities. Water law is one example. Especially since privatisation became popular and took management of services away from public law, private companies doing the jobs previously controlled by government have been bound by varying degrees of social responsibility. Energy policy, Energy, Ofgem, gas, telecommunication policy, telecomms and water law, water are regulated industries in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD countries. * Competition law, known in the United States as antitrust law, is an evolving field that traces as far back as Ancient Rome, Roman decrees against price fixing and the English restraint of trade doctrine. Modern competition law derives from the U.S. anti-cartel and anti-monopoly statutes (the Sherman Act and Clayton Act) of the turn of the 20th century. It is used to control businesses who attempt to use their economic influence to distort market prices at the expense of consumer welfare. * Consumer protection, Consumer law could include anything from regulations on unfair contractual terms and clauses to directives on airline baggage insurance. * Environmental law is increasingly important, especially in light of the Kyoto Protocol and the potential danger of climate change. Environmental protection also serves to penalise pollution, polluters within domestic legal systems. * Aviation law deals with all regulations and technical standards applicable to the safe operation of aircraft, and is an essential part both of pilots' training and pilot's operations. Non adherence to Air Law regulations and standards renders a flight operation illegal. It is framed by national civil aviation acts (or laws), themselves mostly aligned with the recommendations or mandatory standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization, International Civil Aviation Organisation or ICAO. Regulations are often abbreviated as CARS and standards as CATS. They constantly evolve in order to adapt to new technologies or science (for example in medical protocols which pilots have to adhere to in order to be fit to fly or hold a license).


Intersection with other fields


Economics

In the 18th century, Adam Smith presented a philosophical foundation for explaining the relationship between law and economics. The discipline arose partly out of a critique of trade unions and U.S. antitrust law. The most influential proponents, such as Richard Posner and Oliver E. Williamson, Oliver Williamson and the so-called Chicago school (economics), Chicago School of economists and lawyers including Milton Friedman and Gary Becker, are generally advocates of deregulation and privatisation, and are hostile to state regulation or what they see as restrictions on the operation of free markets. The most prominent economic analyst of law is 1991 Nobel Prize in Economics, Nobel Prize winner Ronald Coase, whose first major article, ''The Nature of the Firm'' (1937), argued that the reason for the existence of firms (companies, partnerships, etc.) is the existence of transaction costs. Homo economicus, Rational individuals trade through bilateral contracts on open markets until the costs of transactions mean that using corporations to produce things is more cost-effective. His second major article, ''The Problem of Social Cost'' (1960), argued that if we lived in a world without transaction costs, people would bargaining, bargain with one another to create the same allocation of resources, regardless of the way a court might rule in property disputes. Coase used the example of a
nuisance Nuisance (from archaic ''nocence'', through Fr. ''noisance'', ''nuisance'', from Lat. ''nocere'', "to hurt") is a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by jud ...
case named '' Sturges v Bridgman'', where a noisy sweetmaker and a quiet doctor were neighbours and went to court to see who should have to move. Coase said that regardless of whether the judge ruled that the sweetmaker had to stop using his machinery, or that the doctor had to put up with it, they could strike a mutually beneficial bargain about who moves that reaches the same outcome of resource distribution. Only the existence of transaction costs may prevent this. So the law ought to pre-empt what ''would'' happen, and be guided by the most efficiency (economics), efficient solution. The idea is that law and regulation are not as important or effective at helping people as lawyers and government planners believe. Coase and others like him wanted a change of approach, to put the burden of proof for positive effects on a government that was intervening in the market, by analysing the costs of action.


Sociology

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.Cotterrell, ''Sociology of Law'', Jary, ''Collins Dictionary of Sociology'', 636 The institutions of social construction, social norms, dispute processing and legal culture are key areas for inquiry in this knowledge field. Sociology of law is sometimes seen as a sub-discipline of sociology, but its ties to the academic discipline of law are equally strong, and it is best seen as a transdisciplinary and multidisciplinary study focused on the theorisation and empirical study of legal practices and experiences as social phenomena. 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. Kelsen attacked one of its founders, Eugen Ehrlich, who sought to make clear the differences and connections between positive law, which lawyers learn and apply, and other forms of 'law' or social norms that regulate everyday life, generally preventing conflicts from reaching barristers and courts. Contemporary research in sociology of law is much concerned with the way that law is developing outside discrete state jurisdictions, being produced through social interaction in many different kinds of social arenas, and acquiring a diversity of sources of (often competing or conflicting) authority in communal networks existing sometimes within nation states but increasingly also transnationally. Around 1900
Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Sociology, sociologist, historian, jurist and political economy, political economist, who is regarded as among the most important theorists of the development of Modernity, ...
defined his "scientific" approach to law, identifying the "legal rational form" as a type of domination, not attributable to personal authority but to the authority of abstract norms. Formal legal rationality was his term for the key characteristic of the kind of coherent and calculable law that was a precondition for modern political developments and the modern bureaucratic state. Weber saw this law as having developed in parallel with the growth of capitalism. Another leading sociologist, Émile Durkheim, wrote in his classic work ''The Division of Labour in Society'' that as society becomes more complex, the body of civil law concerned primarily with restitution and compensation grows at the expense of criminal laws and penal sanctions. Other notable early legal sociologists included Hugo Sinzheimer, Theodor Geiger, Georges Gurvitch and Leon Petrażycki in Europe, and William Graham Sumner in the U.S.Papachristou, ''Sociology of Law'', 81–82


See also

* By-law * Law dictionary * Legal research in the United States * Legal treatise * Legislation *
Natural law Natural law ( la, ius naturale, ''lex naturalis'') is a system of law based on a close observation of human nature, and based on values intrinsic to human nature that can be Deductive reasoning, deduced and applied independently of positive law ( ...
* Political science * Pseudolaw * Public interest law * Social law * Translating "law" to other European languages


References


Citations


Sources

; Printed sources * * * * * See original text i
Perseus program
. * Barzilai, Gad (2003), ''Communities and Law: Politics and Cultures of Legal Identities''. The University of Michigan Press, 2003. Second print 2005 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Hamilton, Michael S., and George W. Spiro (2008). ''The Dynamics of Law'', 4th ed. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc. . * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Silvestri, Paolo, "The ideal of good government in Luigi Einaudi’s Thought and Life: Between Law and Freedom"
, in Paolo Heritier, Paolo Silvestri (Eds.), Good government, Governance, Human complexity. Luigi Einaudi's legacy and contemporary societies, Leo Olschki, Firenze, 2012, pp. 55–95. ; Online sources * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


DRAGNET: Search of free legal databases from New York Law School

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