Understanding Law-Notes - Understanding Law Understanding...

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Understanding Law Understanding Law 1) What is Law? 2) Major Legal Systems 3) Classification and Sources of Law What is Law? Some attempts at definition “The prophecies of what the courts will do… are what I meant by the law.” - O W Holmes (1897) “One shall not steal; if somebody steals he shall be punished… Law is the primary norm which stipulates the sanction.” - H Kelsen (1949) “What officials do about disputes is… the law itself.” - K N Llewellyn (1981)
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Major Schools of Thought Naturalism - collection of rules based on reason and nature - justice and morality taken into account Positivism - command type rules laid by a governing body - enforceable by sanction System of rules and regulations Law Equals Morality? Expectation that laws are fair, just and acceptable Should law be based on morals? Who determines morals and to what standard? Should law be the guardian of public morality? Basic Concepts of Law Certainly a system of rules However, rules are not universal Sources of Law:- Institutional - Common Law
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Laws created by institutions that have the power to create law (e.g. Parliament, Government Departments, etc) Statute Law Delegated Legislation Informal Rules Procedural Rules Interpretative Rules Instructions to Officials Institutional Law Common Law Rules of law that have evolved through court cases as opposed to the ones laid down by Parliament very much influenced by the Common Law forms of Action, which can be classified as contract, defamation, etc. (Common Law tradition should be distinguished against Civil Law tradition) Why Study Law? Cement of society Medium of change Increases understanding of public affairs Promotes accuracy of expression Increases understanding of social values
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Divisions of Law Law Criminal Civil Criminal Law / Civil Law Criminal Law Civil Law Punishes: penal in nature Compensates person who has been wronged Concerned with acts harmful to society Concerned with commercial and private matters Crimes: Homicide, assault, theft, etc. Contract, Tort, Trusts, etc. Classification of Law Statute Law Case Law Laws passed by Parliament in the form of Public Acts Decisions handed down by the by the judges More important source of law for commercial activity Decisions recorded in law reports for future reference Can be amended by Parliament Rapidly updateable in response to changes needed in the law
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Understanding Law-Notes - Understanding Law Understanding...

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