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Introduction to law
What is Law?
Law is a set of principles, rules and
standards of conduct which govern
human behaviour and have general
application in that particular society
or community.
Functions of laws
Keep the peace
Enforce standards and maintain order
Facilitate planning
Promote social justice
Sources of Law
(where do laws originate from?)
Legislation
Decisions of courts
Customs
Writings of jurists
Classification of Law
Public and private
Criminal and civil
Substantive and procedural
Public and Private law
Public law - matters which concern
the State or officers of the State
Private law - matters which are in
dispute between private citizens
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Public and Private law
Public Law
Constitutional Law
Administrative Law
Criminal Law
Environmental Law
Private Law
Law of Contracts
Family Law
Law of Property
Law of Trusts
Criminal Law and Civil Law
Criminal Law
Criminal Law - prohibits certain acts and
conduct and punishes those who commit
those acts.
The acts must be always specified
Committing the prohibited acts is an
offence
The acts are considered to be
disadvantageous to society as a whole
The criminal law will punish the person who
committed those acts
Criminal Law and Civil Law
Civil Law
Civil law deals with disputes between
people.
The purpose of the civil law is not to punish
but to ensure that people carry out their
duties and obligations to one another.
The role of the State is to provide a
system by which this can be done.
Differences between Criminal and Civil Law
CRIMINAL CIVIL
Purpose of the
Action
To preserve law and
order in society by
prohibiting certain
acts and punishing
those who commit
them
To resolve disputes
between individuals
Parties to the
action
The State
prosecutes the
offender
An individual must
sue in court
In which court is
the action filed
Magistrates Court
and High Court
Magistrates Court
and District Court
Standard of proof The State must
prove the case
beyond reasonable
doubt
The Plaintiff must
establish the case
on a balance of
probabilities
Differences between Criminal and Civil Law
CRIMINAL CIVIL
Decision of the
Court
Guilty or not guilty Liable or not liable
Sanction or
puninshment
Imprisonment, fine,
death sentence
Damages, injunction,
specific performance
Examples Murder, theft etc
Environmental
offences
Property matters,
civil damage, divorce,
custody of children,
etc
Substantive and Procedural
Law
Substantive Law
Substance of the
law
Sets out the rights
and duties,
offences,
applicability of law,
etc
Procedural Law
Establishes the
rules by which
courts will deal
with the issues.
The way in which
the substantive law
will be enforced
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Legal Systems in Sri Lanka
Personal Laws:
Kandyan law
Muslim Law
Thesawalamai
English Law
Roman Dutch Law
Roman Dutch Law
Introduced by the Dutch
Never introduced into the Kandyan
provinces
Now called the Common Law or the
Residuary Law of the country
Generally applies to private law areas
- marriage, property, inheritance,
contracts, ownership of land, etc
English Law
Introduced by the British
Applicable throughout the island
including the Kandyan Provinces
Applies in public law - constitutional
law, administrative law, trade and
commerce, criminal law, evidence, etc
The Court System
Hierarchy of courts
Supreme Court
Court of Appeal
High Courts
District Courts
Magistrates Courts
Primary Courts
Jurisdiction of Courts
Jurisdiction of courts means the
authority of courts to hear certain
cases.
This is determined by the relevant
law or the Constitution
Jurisdiction of the
Supreme Court
Constitutional jurisdiction
Fundamental Rights jurisdiction
Consultative jurisdiction
Election petitions
Final Appellate jurisdiction
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Jurisdiction of the Court
of Appeal
Appellate jurisdiction from the High
Court, the District Court or any other
court or tribunal
Writ jurisdiction
Jurisdiction of the High
Court
Original criminal jurisdiction
Appellate jurisdiction from the
Magistrates Court or Primary Courts
within the Province
Other jurisdiction conferred by law
Jurisdiction of the District
Court
All civil cases - divorce, property, etc
Revenue matters
Testamentary matters
Jurisdiction of the
Magistrates Courts
Offences relating to the armed
forces
Offences relating to public peace and
order
Sudden and accidental death
Jurisdiction of the Primary
Courts
Debts
Damages
Demands
Claims not exceeding Rs. 1500
International Law
The law of nations
The law which governs international
relations between nations
Eg. International Trade, Human Rights,
Environmental Law
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Sources of International
Law
Treaties or Conventions
Bilateral treaties
Regional treaties
Multilateral Treaties
Custom
Decisions of International Courts and
Tribunals
The International Court of Justice