Introduction to Law

Introduction to Law – Part 1 (Categories and Sources of Law)

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LEARNING OUTCOMES
   

Module syllabus Course assessment Proposed exam format Introduction to law
– Categories of law – Sources of law

Reading and assignments for Week 1

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Contact Information
 Daniel

O’Connell  icbdaniel@hotmail.com  Mobile: 13381376347

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Course learning outcomes

    

Analyze a dispute between an employer and an employee and identify the legal issues it raises Identify the legal sources of the principles relevant to the dispute Describe the principles relevant to the dispute Apply the relevant principles to the dispute Put forward a reasoned solution to the dispute Present the solution to an employer or employee, as appropriate, in a suitable format

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Learning Strategies
 Lecture  Cases  Review  Exams

papers

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Tentative teaching schedule
 According

to the module syllabus  Check the website for the module syllabus

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Course Assessment
 Class

10%  Mid-term exam  Coursework 30%  Final exam

attendance/participation 20%

40%

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Learning Objectives
 What

is law?  Categories of law  Sources of Law  Brief Comparison of England and China

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What is Law?
 Law

provides rules  It tells us what we can and cannot do  This is true in our personal lives (eg criminal law)  And in our business lives (eg contract law)  Therefore, it is important for a businessperson to know the rules

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What is Law? (cont.)
 However,

rules  Societies require order to allow people to live and deal with each other  Law is a means of creating and maintaining social order  It does this by helping to deal with arguments and conflicts

law is more than just

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What is Law? (cont.)
 Different

countries have different forms of law and social order  In this module, we shall be looking at some of the principles of English Law  However, many of these principles can be found in other legal systems
– even if the details are different
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Categories of Law
Law is a very large field, and it is common to divide it into categories  common law and civil law  common law and statute law  private law and public law  civil law and criminal law

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Common Law and Civil Law
A

legal system is the way the law is structured and operated in a country
– England and China have different legal systems

 Common

Law and Civil Law are terms used to describe legal systems
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Common Law
 Common

Law is used to describe legal systems based on the English legal system  These are usually countries which were once part of the British Empire
– eg: America, Australia, New Zealand

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Civil Law
 Civil

Law is used to describe legal systems which are based on old Roman Law (from the Roman Empire in what is now Italy)  eg: France, Germany  China is usually classified as a civil law system, although it is not based on Roman Law
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Common Law v. Civil Law

Common Law Case law and the courts are most important source of law

Civil Law Consists of a legal code of general principles which is the source of law

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Common Law and Statute Law
 Common

Law is the law and procedures created by courts (ie judges)  Statute Law is legislation created by the government
– in England, this is Parliament at Westminster – eg Sale of Goods Act 1979 – eg Employment Relations Act 1999

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Common Law v. Statute Law
 Since

the early 20th century, most English Law has been created (“enacted”) by statute
– Acts of Parliament

 However,

the courts still have an important role to play in deciding on the effect of statutes
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Private Law and Public Law
 Private

Law and Public Law are concerned with relationships

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Private Law
 Private

Law deals with the relationships between ordinary people in everyday transactions  That includes you and me, as well as businesses and companies  Private Law includes the law of contract and the law of tort
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Public Law
 Public

Law deals with the relationships between government organisations and ordinary citizens
– also between different government organisations

 Public

Law includes constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law
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Civil Law and Criminal Law
 In

this category, “civil law” has a different meaning from the Common Law and Civil Law category

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Civil Law
 In

this category, civil law deals with the relationships between individual citizens  Its purpose is to settle arguments between individuals  It helps people to find remedies
– it doesn’t really punish people
 Civil

Law includes all Private Law and some Public Law

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Criminal Law
 Criminal

Law deals with rules created by the State which forbid certain behaviour  These are “crimes”  Criminal Law punishes people
– it does not provide remedies
 Criminal

Law is usually what people think of when they think about “The Law”

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Criminal Law v. Civil Law
A

very important difference between criminal law and civil law relates to court cases  In a criminal case, the prosecutors (ie the State) must prove their case beyond reasonable doubt  In a civil case, the parties only have to prove their case on the balance of probabilities
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Common Law System (based on English System) Civil Law

Private Law Common Law Statute Law

Public Law Criminal Law

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Civil Law System (based on old Roman Empire System)

Civil Law

Private Law Statute Law

Public Law Criminal Law

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Sources of English Law
 European

Union  Domestic Legislation  Case Law

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European Union
 The

UK is a member of the European Union  The EU has the power to create rules and regulations which apply in its member states

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Domestic Legislation
 Domestic

legislation is created by Parliament at Westminster  It only applies to England
– EU laws apply to all EU members
 Domestic

legislation is introduced by the government
– currently the Labour Party led by Tony Blair
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Domestic Legislation (cont.)
 Although

we said earlier that the English legal system is a common law system, legislation is now the main source of law in England  However, the courts are still important as they help to interpret the legislation
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Domestic Legislation (cont.)
 Each

piece of legislation is an Act of Parliament  They are recorded in statute books which anyone can refer to

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Case Law
 Decisions

of the courts can help to develop and explain the law  As we will see in the next class, the decision in one case can influence the decision in another case which comes after it  Although legislation can overrule case law, cases law can help to show the practical effect of legislation

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Case Law
 The

facts and decisions in important cases are recorded in books called law reports  Lawyers refer to these when
– they advise their clients – they are arguing their client’s case in court

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China
 The

Chinese legal system has similar characteristics to a civil law system  This is partly because in Chinese history written laws and codes were important
– as far back as the Qin Dynasty
 Also
th

partly due to European influences on China in the 19th and

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China (cont.)
 The

Chinese legal system is distinct from other legal systems, but its structure is similar to civil systems like France and Germany  Chinese legal experts view legislation as more important than case law  In fact, case law is not considered to be a source of law in China

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China (cont.)
 

Sources of law in PRC Statutes made by the National People’s Congress have the highest authority
– constitutional laws, civil codes, and criminal codes

Administrative regulations by the State Council cannot be in conflict with statutes. Cases are not considered official sources of law, though decisions of the Supreme People's Court are used as a guideline by lower courts when the law

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England v China
 

England Common Law system Sources of Law
– – European Union Domestic Legislation – Case Law

 

PRC Civil Law System Sources of Law
– Domestic Legislation (NPC and State Council)

Case Law important in developing and explaining the law

Case Law not important. Only used by lower courts when the law is unclear.
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Summary
 Law

provides rules which give businesspeople a framework for conduction their business
– they know what they can and cannot do

 Categories

of law

– Common Law and Civil Law
 refer to legal systems  England has a common law system  China is closer to a civil law system

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Summary (cont.)
 Categories

of law (cont.)

– Common Law and Statute Law
 common law comes from decisions of the courts  statute law comes from legislation made by the government

– Private Law and Public Law
 private law concerns individuals  public law concerns institutions of state
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Summary (cont.)
 Categories

of law (cont.)

– Civil Law and Criminal Law
 civil law deals with relationships between individuals  criminal law deals with forbidden behaviour

 Sources

of English Law

– – –

European Union Domestic Legislation Case Law
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Reading
 Chapter

1

– Page 3 : paragraph entitled “Private and public law”

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