Providing an enforceable way to settle disputes if they do arise;Providing a defined legal process to ensure that settlement of disputes occurs in anorderly, impartial and fair way;Providing a means of obtaining compensation for personal, economic or other lossdamage or injury where it was caused by someone else;Providing a means whereby law can change to reflect changes in society’s needs.In summary, the law provides a means whereby the problems that arise everyday betweenindividuals, groups of people, business organisations and government and other bodies canbe resolved. It can be reactive (so the law develops and is put in place afterthe problemsbecomes apparent, and in an attempt to prevent similar occurrences thereafter—theSarbanes-Oxley Actin the United States that was put in place to resolve some of the auditingproblems identified in a number of high profile corporate collapses referred to above is agood example of such a law). Alternatively, it can be proactive (so laws are enacted to coverpossible problems beforethey occur—as is the case with some of the laws currently beingconsidered around the world to deal with developments in gene technology or developmentsin electronic commerce).10
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CO5119:03 Business Law SUBJECT MATERIALS >>SCHOOL OF LAWJAMES COOK UNIVERSITY1.4Branches of Law1.4.1 GenerallyLaw deals with a huge range of activities and this has led to the development of manyspecialised ‘branches’ of law. They include:(a)Private international law (sometimes called ‘conflict of laws’)(b)Criminal law(c)Torts (laws of civil wrongs)(d)Contract law(e)Constitutional law(f)Administrative law(g)Industrial law (laws of employment and working conditions)(h)Consumer protection law(i)Company law(j)Intellectual property law (laws protecting commercial use of ideas and inventions)(k)Taxation lawThis is not a complete list of all possible branches of law but it does give you some idea ofthe scope of the activities that are governed by legal rules. All of the topics listed are relevantto business, and there are many others.Many branches of law are dealt with later in this subject but at this point it is appropriate thatwe consider the difference between national and international law.1.4.2 National and International LawThe essential difference is that national laws are intended to govern the legal relationshipsbetween people and other legal entities in a particular country whereas international law isintended to govern the relationships between countries or between people and entities indifferent countries.National laws are developed by the people and governments in the country in which theyapply. On the other hand there is no ‘world congress’ or ‘world court’ that has the power andauthority to develop law that it can then apply to (and enforce against) all of the people in theworld. International law therefore gains its enforceability by being recognised by, and then bybeing enforced by, national governments and national courts.
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