law Definition, Systems, Institutions, & Fields
In medieval England, the Norman conquest the law varied shire-to-shire, based on disparate tribal customs. The concept of a “common law” developed during the reign of Henry II during the late 12th century, when Henry appointed judges that had authority to create an institutionalised and unified system of law “common” to the country. The next major step in the evolution of the common law came when King John was forced by his barons to sign a document limiting his authority to pass laws.
- Law professor and former United States Attorney General Edward H. Levi noted that the “basic pattern of legal reasoning is reasoning by example”—that is, reasoning by comparing outcomes in cases resolving similar legal questions.
- Saudi Arabia recognises Quran as its constitution, and is governed on the basis of Islamic law.
- Sharia law based on Islamic principles is used as the primary legal system in several countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.
- EU law is codified in treaties, but develops through de facto precedent laid down by the European Court of Justice.
Many Muslim countries have developed similar rules about legal education and the legal profession, but some still allow lawyers with training in traditional Islamic law to practice law before personal status law courts. In China and other developing countries there are not sufficient professionally trained people to staff the existing judicial systems, and, accordingly, formal standards are more relaxed. Modern military, policing and bureaucratic power over ordinary citizens’ daily lives pose special problems for accountability that earlier writers such as Locke or Montesquieu could not have foreseen. The custom and practice of the legal profession is an important part of people’s access to justice, whilst civil society is a term used to refer to the social institutions, communities and partnerships that form law’s political basis. Conflict of laws, or private international law in civil law countries, concerns which jurisdiction a legal dispute between private parties should be heard in and which jurisdiction’s law should be applied. Today, businesses are increasingly capable of shifting capital and labour supply chains across borders, as well as trading with overseas businesses, making the question of which country has jurisdiction even more pressing.
By contrast, the classic civil Law approach to property, propounded by Friedrich Carl von Savigny, is that it is a right good against the world. Obligations, like contracts and torts, are conceptualised as rights good between individuals. The idea of property raises many further philosophical and political issues.
The term “civil law”, referring to the civilian legal system originating in continental Europe, should not be confused with “civil law” in the sense of the common law topics distinct from criminal law and public law. Hegel believed that civil society and the state were polar opposites, within the scheme of his dialectic theory of history. The modern dipole state–civil society was reproduced in the theories of Alexis de Tocqueville and Karl Marx. In post-modern theory, civil society is necessarily a source of law, by being the basis from which people form opinions and lobby for what they believe law should be.
‘Unqualified experts’ should not have role in child welfare cases, court told
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The executive in a legal system serves as the centre of political authority of the State. In a parliamentary system, as with Britain, Italy, Germany, India, and Japan, the executive is known as the cabinet, and composed of members of the legislature. The executive is led by the head of government, whose office holds power under the confidence of the legislature. Because popular elections appoint political parties to govern, the leader of a party can change in between elections. Some countries allow their highest judicial authority to overrule legislation they determine to be unconstitutional. For example, in Brown v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court nullified many state statutes that had established racially segregated schools, finding such statutes to be incompatible with the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.