Hodge CH01 - Chapter One Law in Business An Overview 1...

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C HAPTER 1 L AW IN B USINESS , A N O VERVIEW 1 S ECTION 1.1 I NTRODUCTION Law is a dynamic force that is not capable of a single or simple defini- tion. For instance, the Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that law is a pledge that citizens of a state will do justice to one another. Black s Law Dictionary defines the term as that which must be obeyed and followed by citizens, subject to sanctions or legal consequences. Re- gardless of how the term is defined, the law affects all aspects of life and establishes the parameters of acceptable conduct within our soci- ety. These rules can be created by the legislature, administrative regulations, or be imposed by court decree. While one may not always agree with the law, deviations from these mandates may result in both criminal and civil liabilities. In the face of expanding government regulations and a litigation-ori- ented society, businesses must be cognizant of the legal implications of their actions. Seemingly minor violations of the law may have signifi- cant financial and emotional consequences. Million-dollar verdicts occur with some frequency in the United States, and the courts do rec- ognize new or expanded theories of liability. Law books tend to be theoretical and discuss the economic, sociologi- cal, and political framework within which the law operates. This text will examine the forces that shape the law and will provide the reader with the opportunity to observe the legal system in action. As the se- mester unfolds, the reader will follow the legal difficulties encountered by a local sports bar and its owners as they struggle to operate in today s complex business world and maintain a profit. Students will learn of these legal controversies through a series of problems that the reader will be requested to help solve. This text is broken down into several segments. Part One will examine some of the basic principles of the law in the United States such as the evolution of our legal system and the doctrine of precedent. Part Two will expose the reader to the categories of private law contracts, torts, property and family law. The final portion of the book will look at those laws that specifically affect the entrepreneur including how to form a business enterprise, employee rights, and the legal implications of dealing with international business transactions. Hodge_CH01.pmd 10/13/2008, 10:25 AM 1
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2 Law for the Business Enterprise S ECTION 1.2 T HE S TUDY OF L AW The rules, regulations and judicial edicts that make up the legal envi- ronment in which businesses must operate can be difficult to under- stand. The law is not perfect, but it does establish a system of order and justice. What would automobile traffic be like if we didn t have a motor vehicle code to establish rules of the road? How could we be secure in our homes if we didn t have the threat of imprisonment for those who violate the sanctuary of those residences?
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