Portal:Law

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Law is a system of rules, usually enforced through a set of institutions. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a primary social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus ticket to trading on derivatives markets. Property law defines rights and obligations related to the transfer and title of personal (often referred to as chattel) and real property. Trust law applies to assets held for investment and financial security, while tort law allows claims for compensation if a person's rights or property are harmed. If the harm is criminalised in a statute, criminal law offers means by which the state can prosecute the perpetrator. Constitutional law provides a framework for the creation of law, the protection of human rights and the election of political representatives. Administrative law is used to review the decisions of government agencies, while international law governs affairs between sovereign states in activities ranging from trade to environmental regulation or military action. Writing in 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle declared: "The rule of law is better than the rule of any individual."

Legal systems elaborate rights and responsibilities in a variety of ways. A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions, which codify their laws, and common law systems, where judge made law is not consolidated. In some countries, religion informs the law. Law provides a rich source of scholarly inquiry, into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis or sociology. Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness and justice. "In its majestic equality", said the author Anatole France in 1894, "the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread." In a typical democracy, the central institutions for interpreting and creating law are the three main branches of government, namely an impartial judiciary, a democratic legislature, and an accountable executive. To implement and enforce the law and provide services to the public, a government's bureaucracy, the military and police are vital. While all these organs of the state are creatures created and bound by law, an independent legal profession and a vibrant civil society inform and support their progress. (More…)

Selected article

Targeted Killing in International Law is a book about the legality of targeted killing, written by Nils Melzer. It was first published by Oxford University Press in May 2008. The book delves into the history surrounding use of targeted killing as a government strategy by multiple countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Switzerland, and Germany; both for military and law enforcement purposes. Melzer argues that directly after the September 11 attacks in the United States, perceptions regarding the use of the tactic of targeted killing shifted to become more supportive. The book received a favorable reception, and was a joint-winner of the 2009 Paul Guggenheim Prize in International Law given by the Geneva Graduate Institute. It garnered positive reviews in publications including the International Criminal Justice Review, the European Journal of International Law, and the American Journal of International Law. (more...)

Selected biography

A large crowd of predominantly black people are seen on the march.

The Jena Six were six black teenagers convicted in the beating of Justin Barker, a white student at Jena High School in Jena, Louisiana, on December 4, 2006. Barker was injured in the assault by the members of the Jena Six, and received treatment for his injuries at an emergency room. While the case was pending, it was often cited as an example of racial injustice in the United States, due to a belief that the defendants had initially been charged with too-serious offenses and had been treated unfairly.

A number of events took place in and around Jena in the months preceding the Barker assault which have been linked to an alleged escalation of racial tensions. These events included the hanging of nooses from a tree in the high school courtyard, two violent confrontations between white and black youths, and the destruction by fire of the main building of Jena High School. The incidents were often linked in the extensive news coverage regarding the Jena Six. (more...)

Did you know...

  • ... that the non-payment of debts is the archetype for the seventeen other Hindu titles of law, including the sexual crimes against women?


Selected picture

A seated barrister
Image by unknown photographer; uploaded by Cliniic
Jawaharlal Nehru at the Allahabad High Court

Selected case

An illustration of two people fighting in a pen and surrounded by a large crowd

Ashford v Thornton (1818) 106 ER 149 is an English law case in the Court of King's Bench that upheld the right of the defendant, on a private appeal from an acquittal for murder, to trial by battle. In 1817, Abraham Thornton was charged with the murder of Mary Ashford. Thornton had met Ashford at a dance, and had walked with her from the event. The next morning, Ashford was found drowned in a pit, with little outward signs of violence. Although public opinion was heavily against Thornton, the jury quickly acquitted him, and also found him not guilty of rape.

Mary's brother, William Ashford, launched an appeal, and Thornton was rearrested. Thornton claimed the right to trial by battle, a medieval usage that had never been repealed by Parliament. Ashford argued that the evidence against Thornton was overwhelming, and that he was thus ineligible to wage battle.

The court decided that the evidence against Thornton was not overwhelming, and that trial by battle was a permissible option under law; thus Thornton was granted trial by battle. Ashford declined the offer of battle and Thornton was freed from custody. Appeals such as Ashford's were abolished by statute the following year, and with them the right to trial by battle. (more...)

Selected statute

A black and white scan shows a page labelled "Regulamentul Organic" in the Romanian Cyrillic transitional alphabet. Below the title is a logo of a large bird with spread wings and a cross in its beak. Three straight black lines, incorporating flowers in the corners and in the centre of each side, are used as the page borders.

Regulamentul Organic (Romanian name, translated as Organic Statute or Organic Regulation; French: Règlement Organique, Russian: Oрганический регламент, Organichesky reglament) was a quasi-constitutional organic law enforced in 1834–1835 by the Imperial Russian authorities in Moldavia and Wallachia (the two Danubian Principalities that were to become the basis of the modern Romanian state). The onset of a common Russian protectorate which lasted until 1854, and itself in force until 1858, the document signified a partial confirmation of traditional government (including rule by the hospodars). Conservative in its scope, it also engendered a period of unprecedented reforms which provided a setting for the Westernization of local society. The Regulament offered the two Principalities their first common system of government. (more...)

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