University of Moratuwa. Faculty of Information Technology Essentials of Law . (IT 2308) - 2011 Undergraduates of B.

Sc (IT) (Special) Degree Course – Level II – Semester II
Prepared by Mahesh Devinda Abeynayake
LL.B (Hons) , LL.M (Colombo), Attorney-at-Law , Commissioner for Oaths

Lecturer University of Moratuwa

Lesson - 1 Definition of Law ,Nature of Law and the Divisions of the Law.
Introduction This lesson will enable to you to gain basic understanding of legal concepts , such as definitions of law and Divisions of Law . This week’s learning outcomes At the end of this week you will be able to achieve the following learning outcomes .


Why are laws categorized under different topics or subjects ? 3. 19th Edition . Self assessment questions 1. Read the additional resource give above – Glanville Williams –Learning the Law – Chapters I. 2007. Learning the Law . Why should you have some understanding about “Law” and Legal Principals ? 2.II. List different ways in which law can be categorized and explain why law is categorized in this manner. 2 . To explain the different types of Law that apply in Sri Lanka Requirement Time required to complete study this week – 2 hrs Required readings Glanville Williams . and how it impacts on the lives of all citizens in a society . you would be able to . 3. Outline and explain the main provisions of the legislation relating to the different branches of law. some fundamental concepts relating to law and justice and why law is important for IT industry . After completing your reading check your understanding by answering the self assessment questions. To explain main areas of law and different branches of the Law in Sri Lanka . 4.• • • To outline and explain . 1. As a IT student . IV and V Study and learning activities 1. Define the concept of “Law” 2.II.IV and V. 3. Read the lesson note “Definition of Law and Divisions of Law ” 2. Stevens Publishers (London) Chapters I . List the different branches of law ? Lesson-1 At the end of this lesson . Explain why law is important for the proper functioning of a society .

However . The person who ignores the law or regulation can be punished by court. Further. Thus. enforced by legislature (Parliament) to control and regulate people’s behavior with a view to securing justice. robbery or serious crimes such as murder . Law may be defined as the means by which human behavior in societies is regulated. 3 . Similarly . law can be defined as a body of rules which are expected to maintain order in society. the earliest societies had no “Law” to govern their conduct. The word “LAW” is said to be derived from an old English word “Lag” which meant something laid down or fixed. “Law” came later. “Law” is simply a subject that lawyers practice and what courts (judges) do.Definition of Law Even judges and lawyers are not generally in agreement on the definition of the term “Law” . peaceful living and social security. it is necessary to have some understanding of the Law. Law may be defined as the body of rules which spells out the rights and duties of the various sectors in society Above 2 definition is most appropriate. insurance . a. if there was no law governing the use of motor vehicles on public roads such as the requirement of a driving licence. our roads will not be safe for both motorists and pedestrians . Everyone must obey and conform to the law. but instead relied on the force of custom. b. In order to obey the law. “law” denotes rules and principles. For example . For them . religion and social pressure. speed limits etc. No one is above the Law. Nature of the Law Historically.. The term “law” is defined – as rules made for the proper regulation of society or for correct conduct in life. One cannot break or ignore the law and expect to go free. revenue certificate . no one will be safe . it would not be incorrect to say that without “law” society cannot function in an orderly manner . if there was no law governing theft . rape . Two definitions of Law are given below: Please go through these definitions .

These are only a few examples to show to you how the law has become an integral part of our life . no child under the 16 years can be employed in any capacity . No civilized society can function without law. This is because it is a well established rule . This is an offence . Thus . Further. the law requires . citizens must appreciate that their conduct derives from the law . 4 . that your birth be registered . In modern times. no newspaper will normally agree to publish an obituary notice unless the death certificate of the deceased person is produced . Another example would be a situation where a couple employs a girl under 16 years of age .”( It is a famous Latin maxim in law – Ignorantia juris neminum exceust ) . In this case too. may involve legal issues and the interpretation of laws and regulations . “Law” is an integral part of any society. as a domestic servant in their household .to. almost all human activity is affected by the law in one way or another . a motorist who decides to drive a car on a road must first acquaint himself with the law . What is the position if a person does not know the law ? Can a person break the law and then argue that he was not aware of the law ? For example . since . The need for a knowledge of the law cannot be over – emphasized . Young persons and Children Act No. When you are born .day work . For another example . can a motorist who exceeds the speed limit argue that he was not aware of the speed limit and therefore. .Your day. by referring the Sri Lanka Motor Traffic Act No 14 of 1951 and its amendments . and when you die the law requires a death certificate before you can be buried or cremated . 47 of 1956 . he is not guilty of any offence ? The answer is clear . Under our elections law . Thus as shown above. under the Sri Lanka Employment of Women . the law requires a person to be 18 years and above to be qualified as a voter . Apart from the above reasons . the offending couple cannot argue that they were not aware of the Act on the subject . the law requires that any person who wishes to drive a vehicle must be over a certain age (18 years) and possess a valid driving licence. that “Ignorance of the law is not an excuse to break the law . He cannot do so.

Divisions of the Law Classification of Law) (Different Categories of Law. Contract Law will apply to any one who breaches an agreement or contract .Contract Law etc. On the other hand. Civil Law . Hence. of course . Criminal law A “crime” is described as an offence punishable by the state.such as Constitutional Law . Evidence Ordinance etc.Civil Law . arson. housebreaking. there are several branches of law. robbery. Sri Lanka is fortunate that the greater part of out criminal law is found in main legislative enactments. 5 . For example Criminal Law will apply to any one who commits a criminal offence irrespective of who he or she is . Most of the Laws applicable in any country can be classified or categorized by the subject areas they relate to or govern . as opposed to Civil Law. Laws and judicial proceedings are broadly classified as belonging to the categories of Criminal Law and Civil Law. Private Law . etc. Criminal Law . Contract Law or . Criminal law. there are several laws that deal with specific subjects or specific areas. Similarly. Commercial Law . There are. International Law . With the growth of civilization . Partnership Law will concern only those who trade as partners and third parties who have transactions in a partnership . Criminal Law . deals with criminal offences like murder. Company Law will only concern those who run companies or deal with them. people’s social and economic behavior assumed a multidimensional character. some laws that are of general application and are not restricted to any topic or subject such as Public Law . Good examples of specific laws can be given from the area of Business or Commercial law. theft. namely the Criminal Procedure Code . Land Law or Commercial Law etc. Most civilized societies therefore provide and enforce different sets of rules and guiding principles for different kinds of social behavior.

Business Law too has its sub divisions such as Law of Partnership. Employment Law ( Labour Law). Banking Law. Originally. The terms Commercial Law.the State Civil .punishment of the wrongdoer Civil. The word used in a civil law or civil matter is civil wrong.prosecution Civil-suing 6 . Civil Law may be further divided into sub-categories such as Law of Persons (Family Law). In modern times “Civil Law” is categorized into different subject areas. Law of Agency. Law of Obligations (Contracts Law and Tort/Delict Law ) We will subsequently outline these different branches of the law and the topics covered by them .the victim Criminal.compensation of the victim Criminal. the main areas of Civil Law were those relating to1. Business Law. A civil wrong usually takes the form of a breach of contract . Law of Property and Persons ( Family Law and Land Law) 2. The latter conduct is described as “Tort” in English law and the “Delict” in using the legal terminology of the Roman Dutch Law. breach of trust or the causing of non-criminal offences in judiciaries. Law of Property (Land Law).Civil Law The word “offence” is not used in a civil law or civil matter. Comparison of Criminal and Civil Law (a) Purpose (b) Case brought by (c) Action Criminal. Company Law. Mercantile Law are also used to refer to different combinations of sub divisions of commercial law.

it is relevant for us to learn about Public Law as well as important Civil Law areas. Under Public Law we can discuss about following laws-.beyond reasonable doubt Civil. • Administrative Law Perhaps the most important area of the law that IT professionals should be conversant with is Administrative Law. This is because in a broad sense administrative law covers the legal principal governing the relationship between the government (the state) and the citizens. community service.on a balance of probabilities Criminal. fine. Local Government of Law and Tax Law. injunction (f) Outcome if defendant loses- Different branches of the Law and the areas covered by them In the earlier section of this chapter we learnt that law can be broadly classified under two main branches: Public Law and Private Law.Magistrate’s Court.(d) Burden of proof (e) Court Criminal. In countries where there is no written constitution (like England) . In our profession as IT professionals. specific performance. High Court Criminal .County Court. The demarcation between administrative law and constitutional law is not very clear.imprisonment. 7 .Constitutional Law. Crown Court Civil. The constitution of a country may also contain legal provisions on matters between the state and its citizens. Administrative Law .damages. Public Law Public Law consists of laws related to State. probation Civil.

the universal franchise. referendum. although it is expected to be operational for a reasonable period of time and with certainty. fundamental rights. the most important to citizens is Constitutional Law. (Like Administrative Law.) • Tax Law Fiscal legislation in any country is fraught with controversies in view of the conflicting interest between the government and the tax-payers. That is why when disputes arise in our Parliament on the legislation or proceedings in Parliament and Parliament’s Standing Orders..) • Local Government Law Next to Constitutional Law. Sri Lanka’s Constitutional Law is also based entirely on the English law. So matters relating to Parliament. Any amendment having the effect of unsettling the law. The successful implementation of any tax legislation depends on the fair and equitable approach adopted their-in. Private Law Previously we discussed about Public Law . Law cannot be static. Let us now discuss about Private Law . Members of Parliament and the Speaker seek guidance from English law on the subject. 8 . • Constitutional Law ( Basic Law ) Next to Administrative Law. citizenship would also fall within this category of law. So matters relating to County Councils . the most important to citizens is Local Government Law . elections. Also included under the area of Constitutional law is the Law governing the Prerogative Writs. Grater Councils in UK ( Municipal Councils. Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabahs in Sri Lanka would also fall within this category of law. There are many Divisions of Private Law. It is very relevant and informative about civil law areas . in all fairness should be with appropriate notice and without causing genuine hardship.

mentally unsound persons and prodigals. marriage. “Law of Persons” applies to family or domestic matters such as birth and legitimacy. In their career. servitudes. Property law governs such rights and includes matters like registration of title to land and movables. possession. Tort Law concerns breaches of duties – other than those arising out of a contract –which gives rise to a legal action by the aggrieved party against the wrongdoer. Contract Law Contract Law is part of civil law and concern the enforceability of agreements entered into between two or more persons. Contract Law is one of the main branches of business or commercial law because without contracts there can be little or no business conducted. 9 . under Tort Law. joint ownership. A contract is a legally binding and legally enforceable agreement. guardian and ward. Tort Law (Law of Delict) The word “tort” is taken from the French word meaning “wrong”. If a motorist drives carelessly and injures you he has committed a tort and you can sue him. In modern times. Law of Persons As distinguished from “property law”. public officials will be called upon to inquire into many disputes relating to property rights. Even when you purchase a newspaper or a packet of tea from a shop you are entering into a contract with the shopkeeper. is one of the most important rights that people have. both immovable property (like land or house) or movable property (like a motor car). Thus. the rights of parents and children. for damages for the injuries you suffered. adoption. husband and wife. the word “tort” (also called “Delict”) refers to conduct which is a civil wrong as opposed to a criminal offence. mortgages and leases etc. all agreements may not result in contract.Law of Property Ownership of property. divorce. While all contracts are based on an agreement.

the main areas of intellectual property recognized by law are industrial property such as patent. For example an author of a book has copyright to protect his interests and to see that the book is not published and sold without his knowledge and consent. we commonly refer to it as the “firm”. Without such an account you cannot be regarded as a bank’s “customer”. ( Partnership Law in Sri Lanka is based on English law. The related legislation of Company law of UK is Companies Act1985 and its amendments. To be a “customer of a bank” a person must have some sort of account with a bank.) Company Law Most. Both terms mean the same thing. of the larger business functions in UK are conducted by limited liability companies. a current.designs and copyright. When referring to a partnership. Banking Law Banking Law is the law that applies to all activities conducted by a bank and transactions between banks and their customers. (Banking Law in Sri Lanka is based on English law.) Intellectual Property Law “Intellectual property” is intended to cover all creations of the mind of any person. 10 . The term used for forming a company is “incorporation”.Partnership Law Partnership is the relationship which subsists between persons carrying on a business together with the objective of making a profit. commercial interests such as trademarks . if not all. The word “corporation” is also often used in place of the word “company”. savings or credit card account. brands . Currently. which the law recognizes and protects. for example. The word “firm” denotes the persons who constitute all the partners.

and electronic commerce. access and control of digital information.Labour Law / Employment Law Employment Law regulates the rights and liabilities between employers and their employees and protect employees from unjust sexploitation and wrongful treatment by their employers. currently in existence in several countries. security. Now we are going to discuss various classification methods for Divisions of Law . employees’ provident and trust funds. holiday and annual leave. Much of this law is now governed by legislation relating to industrial disputes. collective agreements. • INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY LAW Definition Information Technology Law (or IT Law) is a set of recent legal enactments. maternity leave etc. internet access and usage. workmen’s compensation. privacy. wages boards. which governs the process and dissemination of information digitally. protection of computer software. BASIC ELEMENTS OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY LAW Local Acts Foreign Acts Intellectual Property Online Contracts Professional Issues Cyber Crimes Dispute Resolution 11 . These legal enactments cover a broad areas of different aspects relating to computer software. Previously we discussed Divisions of Law. employment of women and young persons.

1990(UK) Trade Marks Act . Information Technology sources such as internet services and soft wares were utilized in unfair manner without proper authority and compensation to its owners.19 of 2006 Payments and settlements -No. Since the issue is a global one Sri Lanka also facing the same and deals with continuous 12 . In preventing such illegal situations and giving a fair value & honor to inventors information technology laws were enacted.No 30 of 2006 Electronic transaction Act .24 of 2007 Payment Devices Frauds Act.28 of 2005 Information Communication Technology Act -No. Through the development of information technology the complexity of the systems and related illegal operations were increased. Development of information technology contributes to the improvement of any activity of any working field. Day by day new technologies are invented and it continuously improves the existing technologies.Local Acts –Sri Lanka Computer Crime Act -No.No.1994 (UK) Defamation Act -1996(UK) Electronic Communication Act -2000(UK) Information technology Act -2000 (India) DEVELOPMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY LAW. Information technology is a rapidly developing industry all over the world.27 of 2003 Intellectual Property Act – No 36 0f 2003 Telecommunications Act -No .25of 1991 Foreign Acts Data Protection Act -1998(UK) Computer Misuse Act .

There should be a continuous development not only in information technology but also with the laws which are protecting the technology from the unjust and illegal operations. In this report we have studied the existing laws available for the protection of information technology activities and amendments which are presented with the development of technology and illegal operations. The well being of a country depends on its clear and appropriate rules and regulations. 13 . Therefore there is a need of improving the present laws considering the loopholes observed in the industry. Coming up new technologies expand the boundaries of the information technology and creates many facilities as well as it rapidly increase the possibilities of bad works like cyber crimes. Considering the continuously developing nature of information technology and illegal operations the new trends are adding to the technical journey every day. The performance of any industry is closely related to the set of policies laid down by the government in relation to that industry. Sri Lanka is still lacking of some areas of legal protection. Information gathered here is usable for studying the information technology system of Sri Lanka and the legal provisions for the prevention of illegal operations. The Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka also introduces several laws which are useful to sustainable development of the country. unauthorized usages of intellectual property in information technology sources.improvement of the related laws. The development of laws improved in Sri Lanka is comparatively late with the international context since we are a developing country. Complexity of the technologies and global networking increase the difficulty further. With the dynamic nature of the information technology the protection over the illegal operations have become difficult. These policies may be reflected through direct participation of government in that industry or through a set of regulatory mechanisms and control policies in the absence of direct participation.

employment. real estate. Information and Communication technology Act. Diagram I. There are significant developments in information technology in Sri Lanka also. finance. construction. such as Computer Crime Act. Let us see following 3 diagrams. there are various classification methods of Law. taxes and etc. Private Law Public Constitutional Constitutional L Administrative Civil Law Civil Criminal Law Criminal Law of Obligations Business Business Law Law Persons or Family Law Property or Land Law Law of Contract Law of Law of Delict Torts Company Law Employment Law Law of Agency 14 Sale of Goods Law . So Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka introduced several laws which are related to information technology. foreign business. But during last few decades there is revolution in information technology in developed countries. Sri Lanka Telecommunications etc. Thus. the laws were mainly focused on the area of civil matters.In earlier days.

Diagram II Law Public Law Private Law Constitutional Administrative Tax Law Persons Property Diagram III. DIFFERENT BRANCHES IT Law Civil Law Criminal Law International Law Public Law Private Law Tax Land Family Obligations Administrative Contracts Constitutional 15 Torts .

Family law. wireless communications and the internet. Constitutional law. and electronic commerce and authorities and responsibilities of the task force. Originally. Insurance Law. which is driven by certain technologies like computers. Thus law can be defined an a body of rules which are expected to maintain order in society. Law is an integral part of any society. the reaction of the Courts and. The laws discuss various legal mechanisms that have to be employed to deal with cyber squatting by examining the issue. other specific areas of law came to be recognized. the responsibilities of the registering authorities.Summary of the lesson No one is above the law. On the other hand. Tax law. Land Law etc. Banking Law. privacy and security. The purposes of those acts are maintaining the standard of information technology equal to developed countries and prevent cyber crimes. Industrial Law etc. Topics encompassed within information technology law include. The term information technology law refers to an ever-growing field of law that focuses on those legal issues that arise from the emerging information society. Most of the law applicable in any country can be classified or categorized by the subject areas they relate to or govern such as Administrative Law. there are several laws that deal with specific subjects or specific areas such as Partnership Law. it is necessary to hare same understanding of the law. Without “law” society cannot function in an orderly manner. Intellectual Property Law. ****************************************************************************** 16 . Company Law. information access and controls. the protection of computer software and databases. the main areas of ‘law” were those relating to (i) Public law and Private law or (ii) Criminal Law and Civil Law or (iii) Law of Property and Law of Obligations (Contract or Torts ). Gradually by a process of development. Internet law. In order t obey the law. Every must obey and conform to the law.

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