Template talk:Law

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WikiProject Law (Rated Template-class)
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This template is within the scope of WikiProject Law, an attempt at providing a comprehensive, standardised, pan-jurisdictional and up-to-date resource for the legal field and the subjects encompassed by it.
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Good idea but too U.S. centric[edit]

The template is a good idea but as currently structured, it is much too focused on American law (and I am an American lawyer). Other countries have laws, too! --Coolcaesar 23:08, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree, but unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to restructure it. I would be happy to see some other attempts. Here are two ideas:
  • One big heading with U.S. Law, and then other headings with other national legal systems. The problem with this is that the template will become huge.
  • Make the template explicitly "U.S. Law," with a "See also" link to some other major legal systems that will have their specific portals. I don't like this either, though, because there's so much overlap.
Any other thoughts?
Chart123 00:42, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
Too much capitalization! Most articles will have titles like Civil law, not Civil Law. (note that the latter is a redirect). BD2412 T 03:17, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

To be honest, I have some serious reservations about the current state of the template. Given the sheer breadth of law there is a serious danger that this could get out of hand really fast. Accordingly, it's important to be really selective about what goes in it. I'm especially concerned about having the US law links. It opens up the floodgates to allow every other country's law to be added. I think for starters it's essential that the template remain country-neutral. As for articles to be used in the template I think it would be helpful to ask what are the core classifications of law across the globe, and what fundemental elements that define a given legal system. I think the sub-divisions of legal systems and bodies of law identified in the law article offers a good start. --PullUpYourSocks 05:49, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

On the one hand, I think that's an excellent idea, and might solve a lot of problems while at the same time reinforce a clear, broad taxonomy. On the other, I am of the opinion that the U.S. law articles should be linked together in some way. I'd be happy to start with a broad Law template that uses the categories in the law article, but I still think it's important to think about ways to link pages that are specifically focused on national legal systems. Chart123 09:46, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps U.S. law articles could be linked through a U.S. law template, and a more general law template could address universal concepts. BD2412 T 13:03, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
I think that's great, too -- but I'm worried about template overload! For example, imagine a page on double jeopardy. That alone would justify four templates: 1) Law, 2) Criminal Law, 3) U.S. Law, and 4) Constitutional Law. Shouldn't there be some kind of template limit? I like templates, but don't want to get too template-happy.
Perhaps the solution is to create parameters for which pages get which templates? For example, do only broad, general law pages get the broad, general law template? I like the idea of putting it on every law-related page, but maybe that's unrealistic . . . Chart123 13:11, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm... not too crowded if you have only two - one narrow-topic sidebar template, and one broad topic template at the bottom of the page. BD2412 T 13:56, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
There is always risk of over crowding no matter how many templates, but at least with several templates it is possible to be more precise on whether a given template or article is appropriate. A separate US law template wouldn't be a bad idea. However, I'd be very cautious with the idea of putting a template on every law-related page, as Chart123 suggests. A broad template policy would mean that some articles could contain any number of intersecting topical templates, related to law and otherwise, when most of them are only peripherally related. I think a good example of what I'm talking about can be seen in a number of country's Politics templates. They have a tendancy to become massive catch-all templates that are put on too many pages. I don't think we should let that happen to the law template--PullUpYourSocks 15:48, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

To PullUpYourSocks comments, I see the merits in refraining from putting a law template on every law-related page. I would like to hear other user's comments on this, though. My thoughts on this: one of the things that gives Wikipedia so much potential is easy cross-referencing. Although links within an article are great, a generic template has the potential to unify law articles.

So I guess my question is this: to what extent do we want to see such unity? I imagine, for example, a casual web student wanting to look up some info on, say, property rights. So he finds a page on property rights, scrolls down, and sees a law template that takes him to the law portal and to a general discussion on different legal systems. He might not have otherwise done that without the portal, and so we've furthered what I think ought to be one of Wikipedia's goals: not only to make information easily accessible, but to broaden knowledge.

But maybe I'm being too idealistic. I would, however, really like to hear people's thoughts on this.

Chart123 15:55, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

I don't see why it is so hard to make the template compliant with the Worldwide View policy. Half the links are already to things that the U.S. shares with other common law nations, like Tort, Contract, and so on. Civil rights and separation of powers are universal issues that all governments deal with. All we have to do is replace the U.S.-centric stuff with links to more generic articles like Court, Courthouse, Constitution, Judge, etc. If a reader's curiosity is piqued, nearly all of those general articles already have "See also" sections to more specific subtopics. --Coolcaesar 05:05, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

Proposed redesign[edit]

Hi. This template is clearly inappropriate so I have designed a new one which is available here. Please give your comments and thoughts below and edit it as you see fit. Once that one is settled on there may be a need to create a seperate template for Law of the United States incorporating some of the current content. Thanks Andeggs 16:05, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

I like it. It covers the most important articles on law but is not overly cluttered like too many templates. I'd propose possibly adding a reference to List of areas of law. It's currently not the most elegant list, it could maybe even use a better title, but it would be useful when people are searching for law by topic rather than jurisdiction or system. --PullUpYourSocks 20:05, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Adjusting the template[edit]

I would like to make a few adjustments to the template as follows. It is very good, but it might be even better if the categories were a little more systematic. I just want to write the reasons for changing it here:

1. It's best to put the legal subjects at the top, starting with core topics, and then following with others - the reason is that the best way to understand law is start reading its foundations, just as all students do at law school - contract, tort, criminal, public, property, trusts and international law (or EC law, as we do in the UK)

2. There's one or two small errors in the current scheme, for instance,

(a) international law might be better seen as a substantive body of law, or subject, unlike 'common law' etc, and the other legal systems
(b) criminal law is not usually considered part of public law; it's certainly to do with the state, but public law is usually the other two divisions that are rightly listed: constitutional + admin.
(c) jurisprudence is pretty much the same thing as 'philosophy of law,' and you wouldn't call law and economics part of jurisprudence - I think it's better called a more encompassing 'legal theory' which could leave room to add in 'history of law'
(d) the headings 'equity' and 'statutory interpretation' are not so much 'sources of law' as is the current heading, but, on the one hand, a body of law itself, and on the other, a method of reading the books.

3. As I say, it's great to have the template at all! But I hope that it is a further improvement to put up the categories on the law page current, which mirror a standard way of approaching the topic! User:Wikidea

Hi Wikidea, thanks for updating the template and describing what you've done. I'm not a lawyer so find it difficult to argue with your points but I do have one concern (which is relevant across all the law articles on WP): we must ensure that this subject does not get swept along by an unstated assumption that the reader is only concerned about law as practised in the UK, US, etc. It seems to me to be vital that the template could be seen as equally useful and 'impartial' if one were approaching the topic from the point of view of Sharia law, Chinese law, Halakha or English law. Are the 'core topics' in the redesign central to all these legal systems? Ta. Andeggs 08:04, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
I do know that modern chinese law is based on the German civil law, and that pretty much resembles common law systems in the pattern of core topics. As for Sharia and Halakha, I think it's the same. Everyone deals with forms of international law (or should!) - and every country has a system of public law (because that's just part of the state). Every country has criminal law, and just looking at the Sharia law page, there's a lot of discussion about the various forms of punishment that some countries say apply. Every country has some form of law of obligations - the civil law way of putting it - , which in common law countries we split into contracts and torts. That's why I thought best put up all three on the template, so that, for instance a German or an Italian person wouldn't object. Obligations are just a corollary to property law (and something like trusts is found everywhere too). It just means "I've got stuff, it's mine, and I buy, sell or trade with it". Even in the old Soviet Russia there was a form of property law, although it varies massively of course. According to (some) Sharia lawyers women are their husbands property for instance. So I think that all the core subjects are valid for each country.
But I entirely agree that one country bias is not a good thing, and unfortunately a lot of the articles retain a common law view. But I think whatever country you're in, the same questions come up. Greater emphasis may be put on the stuff currently in 'further disciplines' (like Family law for instance, since I guess in more ancient times a more social morality than individual morality was prevalent). In the West, for instance, a lot of family law is about house ownership (i.e. property law) when people divorce! But hopefully, this approach is at least less Eurocentric than the last template! User:Wikidea

More weirdness in the template[edit]

I haven't paid attention to this template in months. Now I come look at it and Wikidea and others have really goofed it up. I liked it the way it was, back on 16 November 2006 when Pinar edited it [1] (right before Wikidea started messing around).

Here are my concerns:

1. European Union law is not a fundamental legal subject. In the U.S., European Union law is usually taught as part of international law, which is an optional course because only a handful of U.S. attorneys will ever litigate outside of the U.S. or close an international transaction. If we're going to take a worldwide view here, we either delete European Union law or add its U.S. equivalent, Federal Courts.

2. Social security is not taught as an area of legal study in and of itself in the U.S. We have a huge Social Security program that provides old-age and disability insurance but that is considered to be part of government benefits law, which in turn is part of public interest law (and is taught in public interest law courses). So this should really be renamed public interest law or something similar.

3. The "public services" link appears to correspond only roughly to what is known as "public law" in the U.S. (that is, the law controlling government entities and their various relationships with private parties).

4. There is a lot of garbage in the legal theory section which corresponds to obsolete systems of law rather than current schools of legal theory. In particular, I'm referring to Ma'at, Babylonian law, Arthashastra, Magna Carta, and Lex Mercatoria. A modern lawyer would characterize oneself as a "realist" or "positivist" or "critical legal theorist" when asked about their personal system of legal theory, but never as a "Magna Cartist" or "Ma'atist" or "Lex Mercatorist." The section as it stands is a hodgepodge of objects from two totally different classes (and I mean class in the object-oriented or philosophical sense).

If no one responds, I'm going to start fixing this template in a week or two. --Coolcaesar 05:59, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Agree with all your points - and more (see conversation above) - Coolcaesar. Templates are difficult because they must navigate:
  • through time
  • through subtopics
  • whilst maintaining NPOV
  • whilst maintaining a worldwide view
All of these are in jeopardy in the template as it currently stands. You have my vote to fix this or even revert to the version you point to. Andeggs 09:52, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
Wikidea hasn't responded to defend his/her edits. Here goes. --Coolcaesar 04:54, 9 February 2007 (UTC)


Your comments are offensive Coolcaesar, and it's not the first time. If you want to discuss things with people, don't insult them, and don't insult me again. Change your tone and I'm happy to work with you.
The subjects under point 4 were meant to go along with the history of law part; on EU law, you're right to some extent, but the reason I put it there is because it's a special kind of legal system, the only example of supranational law.
I am sorry I didn't see your posts here before noticing the changes themselves, but it wasn't intentional to not reply. On wills, I take it to be a part of trusts - and the more practical point is that it doesn't fit on the row. Can you change this?
If you find my comments offensive, I apologize, but as many others have noted, you really need to raise issues on talk pages (as I always do) before making drastic changes that are apparently founded on an incomplete understanding of the law.
I will fix the formatting, but in the United States, the course on estate law is nearly always called Wills and Trusts. The difference is that wills are administered under the close supervision of a court and trusts are not. A court doesn't even know a trust exists unless the trustees and/or beneficiaries start suing each other, while a court will usually know about the will since one of the heirs or the decedent's lawyer will immediately file it with the court.
Wills (especially the simple ones involving a simple distribution of easy-to-divide-up property) can be closed out faster, so there is less of a running stream of fees to lawyers and administrators. There are many advantages and disadvantages, in terms of balancing the full implementation of the decedent's desires against the administration costs (which come out of the decedent's estate). This is why they are taught as separate concepts but in the same class.
Finally, the European Union is not the only example of supranational law. There are many other supranational treaty schemes and blocs such as the United Nations, NAFTA, and a huge number of U.N.-supervised treaties. There are also supranational treaties like Schengen which are not part of the E.U. (that's why Switzerland could ratify Schengen but refuse to join the EU and swear fealty to the Eurocrats in Brussels). --Coolcaesar 21:09, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

more changes[edit]

Thanks for your reply and apology;

  • 1. I simplified everything in legal theory to the 4 subjects you see (i.e. history, philosophy, economics and sociology) which link to all the subjects there before; you were right about there being too much there before
  • 2. I put wills next to family law; wills and trusts aren't taught together, like they might be in the states, but you have a point that it should be on there
  • 3. The EU is the only supranational legal system, or at least the only one of its kind. The reason is that it's the only entity which sovereign nations are legal bound by (rather than politically), setting it apart from the UN, for instance, and public international law generally. The source is the ECJ in Van Gend en Loos v. Nederlanse Administratie Der Belastingen, EU-LEX

"THE COMMUNITY CONSTITUTES A NEW LEGAL ORDER OF INTERNATIONAL LAW FOR THE BENEFIT OF WHICH THE STATES HAVE LIMITED THEIR SOVEREIGN RIGHTS, ALBEIT WITHIN LIMITED FIELDS, AND THE SUBJECTS OF WHICH COMPRISE NOT ONLY MEMBER STATES BUT ALSO THEIR NATIONALS . INDEPENDENTLY OF THE LEGISLATION OF MEMBER STATES, COMMUNITY LAW THEREFORE NOT ONLY IMPOSES OBLIGATIONS ON INDIVIDUALS BUT IS ALSO INTENDED TO CONFER UPON THEM RIGHTS WHICH BECOME PART OF THEIR LEGAL HERITAGE . THESE RIGHTS ARISE NOT ONLY WHERE THEY ARE EXPRESSLY GRANTED BY THE TREATY, BUT ALSO BY REASON OF OBLIGATIONS WHICH THE TREATY IMPOSES IN A CLEARLY DEFINED WAY UPON INDIVIDUALS AS WELL AS UPON THE MEMBER STATES AND UPON THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE COMMUNITY."

The other one that is probably going to follow is said to be the South American Community of Nations. But I think you're right about bias; it looks a bit eurocentric having that there along; I was going to make a supranational law page, with pretty much this stuff on it, and then the link can be to that. Can we leave it till then? Wikidea 23:27, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

I have been too busy taking depositions to look at the template until now. As it stands now, I think it's all right. --Coolcaesar 07:11, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Allow editors to set state[edit]

No changes were made to template content. I modified the template to set the state to the best default value; editors are now allowed to set the state in their articles. The following should be put on the page, just below the template (but not in the template itself):

Use {{Law|state=collapsed}} or {{Law|state=uncollapsed}} to include the template so that it initially displays in, respectively, its collapsed (hidden) or uncollapsed (expanded) state. Use {{Law|state=autocollapse}} to collapse the template only if there is another template of the same type on the page.

Regards, Notuncurious (talk) 15:51, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

ADR, mediation, etc[edit]

Should ADR, mediation and other forms of dispute resolution be added to this template, as they are of growing significance and usage in the real world, as alternatives to the formal court system? Misterx2000 (talk) 10:05, 9 December 2008 (UTC)


At the risk of stating the obvious[edit]

At present the level of subdivision included is inconsistent. Perhaps that is unavoidable. I think most people looking for Halakha or Sharia Law would look under reglious law and those two don't need mentioning in the template. But where might we find "charity law"? No where, Wikipedia does not even seem to have an article on it, just on subsets of it. Equally Companies_law only has the subset Corporate law included? --BozMo talk 11:31, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

I agree that having Religious Law and both Halakah and Shari'a on the same level makes no sense. Though seeing as the category is Legal Systems I'd say Religious Law doesn't belong. If it's ok I'll add Xeer to the legal systems as well, since it's quite comparable to other more well known legal systems. I'm working on the article and there's still much that needs to be done. Some pointers and advice would be apreciated! --A is A (talk) 04:38, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Ok, I fixed this 5 years later! I like to saw logs! (talk) 08:43, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Lawyers[edit]

Should "lawyer" be a specific link within the main template eithe in addition to, or instead of legal profession? Both terms/concepts have their virtues but since lawyers are in and of themselves so central to "law" as it exists is most countries, perhaps they ought to be included. Thanks --71.111.205.22 (talk) 11:05, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

Most people interested in learning more about lawyers would probably be able to click "lawyer," and might not immediately make the direction connect with the phrase "legal profession." My intuition is that "legal profession" is very common jargon among those within the profession or legal scholarship, but not so much outside.--71.111.229.19 (talk) 22:55, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Ok, I fixed this 4 years later! I like to saw logs! (talk) 08:43, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Religious Law and Chinese Law[edit]

This issue was raised under an earlier discussion heading a year ago, but I have two questions relating to the Legal Systems field. First, I think we're neglecting the traditional systems of law that held sway in a multitude of Asian countries prior to the 19th / 20th century, i.e. prior to colonization and/or Westernization. Specifically, Chinese law, Japanese law, Malay law (including today's Indonesia though I confess ignorance as to its contours), Filipino law, Vietnamese law, etc. etc. I recognize that there is not enough Wikipedia about 18th century Vietnamese law, but there is definitely enough information about Chinese law and Japanese law from the mid 19th century and earlier (all the way back to the Zhou dynasty 3000+ years ago). Why are we excluding these systems? Perhaps because they are inactive today, since Japan and China converted to civil and/or socialist law. Just wanted to raise the issue, however?

Secondly, I don't think it makes sense to list Halakha, Sharia, and Xeer and not have the term religious law anywhere in the template. Yes those are three very prominent religious legal systems, but religious law more generally is still active in several parts of the world and it would be appropriate to acknowledge it's a broader category than just those few prominent ones. Specifically, Hindu law is another major system that is missing.

Moreover, for all you comparatists out there, shouldn't mixed systems of law (Israel, Scotland, SA) be listed?--71.111.229.19 (talk) 23:01, 25 May 2010 (UTC)


Okay, I fixed this 4 years later. I like to saw logs! (talk) 08:43, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

Energy law[edit]

I think this topic is advancing far enough to be part of the template, so I'm adding it. Bearian (talk) 23:16, 15 November 2010 (UTC)