Understanding where you are in the procedural history of a case can help you better understand its disposition. When you are lost, look up your case on Westlaw, hit the History tab and bask in the glow of enlightenment. If you’re not sure how to outline your memo, jury instructions can help by explaining a cause of action, outlining the essential elements of a claim and providing relevant primary law all in one spot.
- The sources for public international law development are custom, practice and treaties between sovereign nations, such as the Geneva Conventions.
- This became the basis for the four principles of negligence, namely that Stevenson owed Donoghue a duty of care to provide safe drinks; he breached his duty of care; the harm would not have occurred but for his breach; and his act was the proximate cause of her harm.
- The former are legal syllogism, which holds sway in civil law legal systems, analogy, which is present in common law legal systems, especially in the US, and argumentative theories that occur in both systems.
- However, a few bodies, such as the WTO, have effective systems of binding arbitration and dispute resolution backed up by trade sanctions.
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. Locke argued that our “lives, liberties and estates” are our property because we own our bodies and mix our labour with our surroundings.
As a law student, you will be expected to read many articles, journals, magazines, or textbooks. E.g. in England these seven subjects, with EU law substituted for international law, make up a “qualifying law degree”. For criticism, see Peter Birks’ poignant comments attached to a previous version of the Notice to Law Schools Archived 20 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, was based on the concept of Ma’at and characterised by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality. By the 22nd century BC, the ancient Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu had formulated the first law code, which consisted of casuistic statements (“if … then …”). Around 1760 BC, King Hammurabi further developed Babylonian law, by codifying and inscribing it in stone.
Torts can also involve intentional acts such as assault, battery or trespass. A better known tort is defamation, which occurs, for example, when a newspaper makes unsupportable allegations that damage a politician’s reputation. More infamous are economic torts, which form the basis of labour Law News in some countries by making trade unions liable for strikes, when statute does not provide immunity.
Understand the procedural history of your case.
Freedom of speech, freedom of association and many other individual rights allow people to gather, discuss, criticise and hold to account their governments, from which the basis of a deliberative democracy is formed. The more people are involved with, concerned by and capable of changing how political power is exercised over their lives, the more acceptable and legitimate the law becomes to the people. The most familiar institutions of civil society include economic markets, profit-oriented firms, families, trade unions, hospitals, universities, schools, charities, debating clubs, non-governmental organisations, neighbourhoods, churches, and religious associations. There is no clear legal definition of the civil society, and of the institutions it includes.
The election of a different executive is therefore capable of revolutionising an entire country’s approach to government. A judiciary is theoretically bound by the constitution, just as all other government bodies are. In most countries judges may only interpret the constitution and all other laws. But in common law countries, where matters are not constitutional, the judiciary may also create law under the doctrine of precedent.
As nationalism grew in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Law Merchant was incorporated into countries’ local law under new civil codes. In contrast to English common law, which consists of enormous tomes of case law, codes in small books are easy to export and easy for judges to apply. However, today there are signs that civil and common law are converging. EU law is codified in treaties, but develops through de facto precedent laid down by the European Court of Justice. Public law concerns government and society, including constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law. Private law deals with legal disputes between individuals and/or organisations in areas such as contracts, property, torts/delicts and commercial law.