LEB Notes Chapter 1: Nature and Sources of Law The Necessity of Law and Ethics o “Where there is no law, there is no liberty o The most important advantage that developed economies enjoy over developing economies is a functioning legal system that can enforce a body of laws that facilitate economic exchange property, contracts, crimes, finance, corporations, antitrust, labor law, taxation, etc. o Ethics evolved for the same purpose that law evolved – to enable people to live together in groups Ethical societies tend to be prosperous and safe What Is the Law? Today there is no definition of law that has universal approval Sources of Law o Primary Sources Contain legally binding rules and procedures Federal and state constitutions statutes (legislative enactments) administrative agency regulations court decisions o Secondary Sources Not legally binding summarize and explain the law and sometimes criticize it and suggest changes in it Secondary sources include research articles, legal periodicals, restatements, legal texts and encyclopedias Requisites of a Legal System In order for laws to command the respect of the people governing it must have 4 characteristics o 1. Certainty Certainty about laws. That these laws will remain stable for the foreseeable future. If a change does occur it would be gradual rather than suddenly abrupt o 2. Flexibility “The law like the traveler, must be ready for the morrow”
Laws must be able to adapt to new changes in society o 3. Knowability Basic assumptions about a democracy is that its citizens will obey its laws voluntarily. This obedience requires some knowledge of the rules It is also necessary for people that need legal advice to have access to experts on the rules (lawyers) o 4. Reasonableness Citizens abide by the law because it is reasonable Prohibition Amendment not reasonable; therefore people did not follow it Some Classifications of Law Subject Matter: basis of the subject matter to which the law relates o Administrative Law o Agency Law o Constitutional Law o Corporation Law o Criminal Law o Partnerships o Sales o Wills and Estates Federal and State Law o All law is said to be either federal or state law o All subjects in the United States are subject to the jurisdiction of individual states. Therefore, there are 50 bodies of corporate law, 50 bodies criminal law Common Law (Case Law) and Statutory Law o Common Law typically referred as case law, judge-made-law, unwritten law all the rules and principles currently existing in any state, regardless of their historical origin, that result from judicial decisions in those areas of law where legislatures have not enacted comprehensive statutes o Statutory Law referred as written law used to refer to the state and federal statutes in effect at a given time (rules adopted by legislative bodies rather than by courts)
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- Spring '08