law Definition, Systems, Institutions, & Fields
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. EU law is codified in treaties, but develops through de facto precedent laid down by the European Court of Justice. All legal systems deal with the same basic issues, but jurisdictions categorise and identify their legal topics in different ways. In civil law systems, contract and tort fall under a general law of obligations, while trusts law is dealt with under statutory regimes or international conventions.
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- In civil law the sources recognised as authoritative are, primarily, legislation—especially codifications in constitutions or statutes passed by government—and custom.
- Increasing numbers of businesses opt for commercial arbitration under the New York Convention 1958.
Normally there will be several readings and amendments proposed by the different political factions. If a country has an entrenched constitution, a special majority for changes to the constitution may be required, making changes to the Law more difficult. A government usually leads the process, which can be formed from Members of Parliament (e.g. the UK or Germany). However, in a presidential system, the government is usually formed by an executive and his or her appointed cabinet officials (e.g. the United States or Brazil).
Individual employment law refers to workplace rights, such as job security, health and safety or a minimum wage. Lord King LC was worried that trustees might exploit opportunities to use trust property for themselves instead of looking after it. Business speculators using trusts had just recently caused a stock market crash.
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In general, legal systems can be split between civil law and common law systems. Modern scholars argue that the significance of this distinction has progressively declined; the numerous legal transplants, typical of modern law, result in the sharing by modern legal systems of many features traditionally considered typical of either common law or civil law. 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. Legal systems vary between jurisdictions, with their differences analysed in comparative law. In civil law jurisdictions, a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates the law.
The paradigm case of a crime lies in the proof, beyond reasonable doubt, that a person is guilty of two things. First, the accused must commit an act which is deemed by society to be criminal, or actus reus . Second, the accused must have the requisite malicious intent to do a criminal act, or mens rea .