Jump to content

Portal:Law

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Law Portal

Lady Justice, often used as a personification of the law, holding a sword in one hand and scales in the other.

Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior, with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. It has been variously described as a science and as the art of justice. State-enforced laws can be made by a group legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes; by the executive through decrees and regulations; or established by judges through precedent, usually in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals may create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that adopt alternative ways of resolving disputes to standard court litigation. The creation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and also serves as a mediator of relations between people.

Legal systems vary between jurisdictions, with their differences analysed in comparative law. In civil law jurisdictions, a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates the law. In common law systems, judges may make binding case law through precedent, although on occasion this may be overturned by a higher court or the legislature. Historically, religious law has influenced secular matters and is, as of the 21st century, still in use in some religious communities. Sharia law based on Islamic principles is used as the primary legal system in several countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The scope of law can be divided into two domains: public law concerns government and society, including constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law; while private law deals with legal disputes between parties in areas such as contracts, property, torts, delicts and commercial law. This distinction is stronger in civil law countries, particularly those with a separate system of administrative courts; by contrast, the public-private law divide is less pronounced in common law jurisdictions. (Full article...)

Selected article

A modern photograph of the front of a booklet

The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus (Belarusian: Канстытуцыя Рэспублікі Беларусь; Russian: Конституция Республики Беларусь) is the ultimate law of Belarus. The Constitution is composed of a preamble and nine sections divided into 146 articles.

Adopted in 1994, three years after the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union, this formal document establishes the framework of the Belarusian state and government and enumerates the rights and freedoms of its citizens. However, the United Nations and various observers challenge that the rule of law is respected or that the judiciary is independent in Belarus, highlighting the consolidation of power by the current president. (Full article...)

Selected biography

A large stone castle, with imposing towers either side of the gateway, is partly obscured by trees on the green in front of the building. A road leads up to the castle, at the end of which are parked six cars outside the high wooden doors.

The Samlesbury witches were three women from the Lancashire village of Samlesbury – Jane Southworth, Jennet Bierley, and Ellen Bierley – accused by a 14-year-old girl, Grace Sowerbutts, of practising witchcraft. Their trial at Lancaster Assizes in England on 19 August 1612 was one in a series of witch trials held there over two days, among the most infamous in English history. The trials were unusual for England at that time in two respects: Thomas Potts, the clerk to the court, published the proceedings in his The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster; and the number of the accused found guilty and hanged was unusually high, ten at Lancaster and another at York. All three of the Samlesbury women were acquitted.

The charges against the women included child murder and cannibalism. In contrast, the others tried at the same assizes, who included the Pendle witches, were accused of maleficium – causing harm by witchcraft. The case against the three women collapsed "spectacularly" when the chief prosecution witness, Grace Sowerbutts, was exposed by the trial judge to be "the perjuring tool of a Catholic priest". (Full article...)

Selected statute

A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative body, a stage in the process of legislation. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutes are laws made by legislative bodies; they are distinguished from case law or precedent, which is decided by courts, regulations issued by government agencies, and oral or customary law.[better source needed] Statutes may originate with the legislative body of a country, state or province, county, or municipality. (Full article...)


The Statute of Monopolies (21 Jas. 1. c. 3) was an act of the Parliament of England notable as the first statutory expression of English patent law. Patents evolved from letters patent, issued by the monarch to grant monopolies over particular industries to skilled individuals with new techniques. Originally intended to strengthen England's economy by making it self-sufficient and promoting new industries, the system gradually became seen as a way to raise money (through charging patent-holders) without having to incur the public unpopularity of a tax. Elizabeth I particularly used the system extensively, issuing patents for common commodities such as starch and salt. Unrest eventually persuaded her to turn the administration of patents over to the common law courts, but her successor, James I, used it even more. Despite a committee established to investigate grievances and excesses, Parliament made several efforts to further curtail the monarch's power. The result was the Statute of Monopolies, passed on 29 May 1624 (although at the time this was thought to be 1623).

The statute repealed some past and future patents and monopolies but preserved exceptions: one of these was for patents for novel inventions. Seen as a key moment in the evolution of patent law, the statute has also been described as "one of the landmarks in the transition of [England's] economy from the feudal to the capitalist". Even with the statute in force, it took over a century for a comprehensive legal doctrine around patents to come into existence, and James I's successor Charles I regularly abused the patents system by ensuring that all cases relating to his actions were heard in conciliar courts, which he controlled. The English Civil War and the resulting English Restoration finally curtailed this system. The statute is still the basis for Australian law, and until the United Kingdom began following the European Patent Convention in 1977, was also a strong pillar of the United Kingdom's intellectual property law. (Full article...)

Did you know...

Red dresses representing missing and murdered Indigenous women.

  • ... that after the death of Olaseni Lewis, who was restrained by 11 police officers, UK law was changed to require police to wear body cameras when dealing with vulnerable people?

Selected images

Selected case

Case law, also used interchangeably with common law, is a law that is based on precedents, that is the judicial decisions from previous cases, rather than law based on constitutions, statutes, or regulations. Case law uses the detailed facts of a legal case that have been resolved by courts or similar tribunals. These past decisions are called "case law", or precedent. Stare decisis—a Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand"—is the principle by which judges are bound to such past decisions, drawing on established judicial authority to formulate their positions. (Full article...)


Black and white portrait photograph

Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co., 248 N.Y. 339, 162 N.E. 99 (1928), is a leading case in American tort law on the question of liability to an unforeseeable plaintiff. The case was heard by the New York Court of Appeals, the highest state court in New York; its opinion was written by Chief Judge Benjamin Cardozo, a leading figure in the development of American common law and later a United States Supreme Court justice.

The plaintiff, Helen Palsgraf, was waiting at a Long Island Rail Road station in August 1924 while taking her daughters to the beach. Two men attempted to board the train before hers; one (aided by railroad employees) dropped a package that exploded, causing a large coin-operated scale on the platform to hit her. After the incident, she began to stammer, and subsequently sued the railroad, arguing that its employees had been negligent while assisting the man, and that she had been harmed by the neglect. In May 1927 she obtained a jury verdict of $6,000, which the railroad appealed. Palsgraf gained a 3–2 decision in the Appellate Division, and the railroad appealed again. Cardozo wrote for a 4–3 majority of the Court of Appeals, ruling that there was no negligence because the employees, in helping the man board, did not have a duty of care to Palsgraf as injury to her was not a foreseeable harm from aiding a man with a package. The original jury verdict was overturned, and the railroad won the case.

A number of factors, including the bizarre facts and Cardozo's outstanding reputation, made the case prominent in the legal profession, and it remains so, taught to most if not all American law students in torts class. Cardozo's conception, that tort liability can only occur when a defendant breaches a duty of care the defendant owes to a plaintiff, causing the injury sued for, has been widely accepted in American law. In dealing with proximate cause, many states have taken the approach championed by the Court of Appeals' dissenter in Palsgraf, Judge William S. Andrews. (Full article...)

More Did you know (auto-generated)

Legal news

Wikinews Crime and law portal
Read and edit Wikinews

Related portals

General images

The following are images from various law-related articles on Wikipedia.

Topics

Quality content

Extended content
Featured articles
Featured lists
Did you know? articles