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BUSINESS LAW

SEMESTER 1 - ACADEMIC YEAR 2015/2016


WORKSHEET I

OVERVIEW OF SOURCES OF LAW


Objective: Students should be able to explain the concept of legal sources and identify the main
sources of law in Jamaica

1. What is law? Are all rules law?


How does law come into being? What makes a rule law; what gives a rule its authority
as law?

2. Main sources of law in Jamaica:

A. THE CONSTITUTION
This is a special type of legislation. Why is this so? We take this point up in
Worksheet II which deals with The Constitution of Jamaica.
The Constitution is the law that establishes Parliament and gives Parliament the
power to make laws. In this regard the Constitution is a kind of parent source of
law.
The Constitution is also the source of law in relation to rules concerning
citizenship, the structure and powers of government, and fundamental rights and
freedoms. Note that the new Charter of Rights (Act no.12 of 2011) containing
fundamental rights and freedoms has replaced the old Chapter III of the
Constitution. You may access a copy of the new Charter on the Houses of
Parliament website at
http://www.japarliament.gov.jm/index.php?
option=com_content&view=article&id=334&Itemid=45

B. LEGISLATION
This refers to rules made by the Legislature (Parliament). These rules are
contained in statutes. Legislation may change or amend existing laws or it may
enact new laws. Parliament, through legislation, may also change rules (law)
which have come about via case law (see below).

C. CASE LAW OR COMMON LAW


This refers to rules of law which develop from principles derived from the
judgment of cases adjudicated and decided in the courts of law. Judges thus
play an important role in this legal source. They create and develop principles of
law in areas where there is no legislation relevant or applicable to the legal
problem in respect of which they are asked to adjudicate and resolve. This is
why case law is also sometimes referred to as judge-made law.
But judges also play an important part in the development of law even where
legislation exists. They may have to interpret or review legislation.

Reading: Antoine, R (2008) Commonwealth Caribbean Law and Legal Systems,


London/New York: Routledge-Cavendish Publishing pp. 97-98.