English Lesson 2 _ Classifications of Law

What are the types of law ?

The study of law distinguishes between public law and private. This distinction is more important in the Civil Law systems and less fundamental in the Common Law system. However, the distinction between civil law and criminal law is more important to practicing lawyers in common law systems.

What are the branches of public law ?

 Public Law is the body of rules that regulate the relations between individuals and the state, or the relations between different entities of the state. The branches of public law are constitutional law, administrative law, criminal law, tax law, public international law.   

 Constitutional law defines the form of the state, sets out the fundamental principles according to which a state is governed, and defines the relationship between the various branches of government within the state. For example, it determines whether the state is a monarchy or republic. The Constitutional Law includes rules that guarantee and protect the fundamental rights and liberties such the freedom of speech and religion. If any law contradicts with the constitution, the constitution shall prevail over this law.

 Administrative Law refers to legal principles governing the administration and regulation of government agencies.  It deals with the functions of public officers and employees and with the organization and functions of the administrative courts.

 Tax Law deals with the imposition and collection of taxes, which constitute an essential part of the state revenue. There are many sorts of taxes such as land tax and income tax.

Criminal law deals with crimes—that is, actions con­sidered harmful to society. Crimes range in seriousness from disorderly conduct to murder. Criminal law defines these offences and sets the rules for the arrest the possible trial, and the punishment of offenders.

 Public International Law regulates the relations between states. It also deals with the formation and functions of international organizations (UN).

What are the branches of private law ?

Private law determines a person’s legal rights and obligations in many kinds of activities that involve other people. Such activities include everything from borrowing or lending money to buying a home or signing a job contract. Private law can be divided into several major branches according to the kinds of legal rights and obligations involved. These branches are contract and commercial law, tort law, property law, inheritance law, family law, company law and employment law.

Contract and commercial law deals with the rights and obligations of people who make contracts. A contract is an agreement between two or more persons that can be enforced by law. A wide variety of business activities depend on the use of contracts. A business firm makes contracts both with other firms, such as suppliers and transporters, and with private persons, such as customers and employees.

Tort is a wrong or injury that a person suffers because of someone else’s action. The action may cause bodily harm; damage a person’s property, business, or reputation; or make unauthorized use of a person’s property. The victim may sue the person or persons re­sponsible. The law of tort deals with the rights and obli­gations of the persons involved in such cases.

Property law governs the ownership and use of prop­erty. Property may be real, such as land and buildings, or personal, such as a car and clothing. The law ensures a person’s right to own property. However, the owner must use the property lawfully. People also have the right to sell or lease their property and to buy or rent the property of others. Property law determines the rights and obligations involved in such dealings.

Inheritance law, or succession law, concerns the transfer of property upon the death of the owner. Nearly every country has basic inheritance laws, which list the relatives or other persons who have first rights of inheri­tance. Inheritance law also sets the rules for the making of wills.

Family law determines the legal rights and obliga­tions of husbands and wives and of parents and chil­dren. It covers such matters as marriage, divorce, adop­tion, and child support.

Company law governs the formation and operation of business corporations or companies. It deals mainly with the powers and obligations of management and the rights of shareholders. Company law is often classed together with contract and commercial law as business law.

Employment Law regulates the relations between workers and employers. Such relations are often based on a contract of service. It deals with the formation, the validity of the contract of services. It regulates the obligations of both parties: the employee and employer.

One branch of national law is the law relating to the conflict of laws, otherwise known as private international law. Private international law encompasses all the rules of law conditioning international relations between private persons. Private international law is the area of law that comes into play whenever a court is faced with a question that contains a foreign element, or a foreign connection.

Substantive law and Procedural law are two major categories within the law. Substantive law establishes and regulates the rights, duties and liabilities of individuals. Procedural law establishes the methods, practices and ways in which a court proceeding takes place. Procedural law lays down the means and methods through which substantive law is enforced.

What are the areas of criminal law ?

Criminal law is a body of rules that defines behaviour prohibited by law, because it threatens and harms public safety and welfare. The rules also establish the punishment if criminal acts are committed. The term ‘crime’ is used to refer to acts that are prohibited by the law such as  theft, rape, or murder, but also includes actions such as parking where you are not allowed to park, and ‘white-collar’ crimes such as embezzlement, smuggling, etc. Offences are usually divided into summary offences (less serious offences), also called misdemeanors and indictable offences (more serious crimes) also called felonies. If a person accused of a crime is found guilty, this means that he or she has been ‘convicted’ of the criminal offence and the court will) order appropriate punishment. The most common punishment may be a fine, an imprisonment or community service.

What are the areas of civil law ?  

Civil law is a generic term for non-criminal law. Civil law refers to rules and regulations, which govern transactions and conflicts between individual citizens.  Civil actions are defined as any non-criminal actions and involve private rights and remedies. Some examples of civil actions are breach of contract, divorce, child custody and/or visitation, and real estate matters.  The purpose of a civil proceeding is generally to compensate the wronged party. The main areas of civil law are contract law, tort law, property law and family law.

Contract law deals with agreements between two or more parties, each of which is obligated to fulfill their part of the agreement. For example, two parties enter into an agreement for the lease of an apartment. The Lessor has the right to use the apartment, and the property owner receives rent money as compensation. If one party violates any of the provisions of the contract, he or she has committed a civil wrong known as breach of contract. Generally, contracts may be oral or written. However, there are certain types of contracts that must be put in writing.

Tort law is a branch of civil law that is concerned with personal injury and civil wrongdoing. A tort is a civil wrong, done by one person or entity to another which results in injury or property damage, and frequently involves monetary compensation to the injured party. There are three categories of torts: negligence, intentional tort, and strict liability. Negligence is a failure to follow the degree of care that a reasonably prudent person would follow in order to avoid foreseeable harm.  A person can be negligent if he or she acts with less care than a reasonable person would use under similar circumstances. An intentional tort is a deliberate wrongdoing in which the defendant acted with intent to cause harm or injury. Some examples of intentional torts include assault and batteryfalse imprisonment, fraud, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Strict liability is a tort that does not require actual negligence or intent to injure. It is based on an absolute or “strict” duty to ensure something is safe. Strict liability frequently comes into play with hazardous activities. The company that offers an activity to consumers, has an absolute duty to make sure they perform safely. If a consumer is injured, the company is liable for the injury under strict liability.

Property law covers both personal property and real property. Personal property can be tangible, such as jewelry, animals, and merchandise, or intangible such as patents, copyrights, stocks, and bonds. Real property refers to land and anything built on it that   cannot be easily removed, as well as anything under the surface of the land, such as oil and minerals. There are two types of property law torts: trespass and conversion. Trespass to chattels refers to a defendant intentionally and physically interfering with the plaintiff’s right to possession and use of his or her personal property. Trespass to land occurs when a defendant enters a plaintiff’s private property without the plaintiff’s consent. Conversion refers to a defendant depriving a plaintiff of his or her personal property without the plaintiff’s consent, and then using the plaintiff’s property as his own. For example, a lady sees her neighbor planting flowers in her garden, and notices she has five extra containers of flowers with no place to plant them. The lady decides she would like flowers in her garden as well, and takes the leftover containers of flowers without asking for permission from the neighbor. The lady deprived the neighbor of her flowers, planting them instead in her own garden. The lady has committed conversion.

Family law is the branch of civil law that deals with marriage, divorce, annulment, child custody, adoption, birth, child support, and any other issues affecting families. This branch of civil law is unique in that there is not necessarily a person who committed a civil wrong. This is particularly true in states that have no-fault divorces. The family court gets involved with dividing up property and finances after a divorce, establishing child custody, child support, and spousal support among other things.

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