Talk:Law/Archive 4

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Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5


I've removed a majority of the links from the law page but I think it to explain why. First, this page is about the general concept of law as a social construct, it is not about the particular law of any country and so it should not have country specific links. Those links should be put in the article of the laws of the particular country, not here. Second, the page is not indended to be a repository of useful law links. So just because it was useful useful site does not warrant inclusion. Rather, a link should be directly relevant and should aid in the understanding of the content of the article, most of them did not. The proliferation of legal dictionaries, news websites, lawyer indices, and other such websites was getting out of control. There is no shortage of these sorts of websites on the internet and none of them are all that distinguishable or authoritative. There was really no good reason to have them. --PullUpYourSocks 03:49, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Inquiry regarding 'Illegal' redirection.

Why does Illegal link to this article? Folajimi 04:24, 11 January 2006 (UTC)(talk)

Probably because "legality" is determined by what the law is. -PullUpYourSocks 04:43, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
IANAL (no pun intended), and you are probably right, but what if I need that wiki to create another article about an infamous entity that has been reported to use that term as a moniker? Folajimi 04:55, 11 January 2006 (UTC)(talk)

Remove 'History of Law' section

Till such time as something does get written under this title, does it not make more sense to remove it from the page. It somehow gives the idea that the page is incomplete. I know it will be incomplete without the history part, but what is the use of shouting about it! Priyatu 09:15, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

why is law necessary

"Law" is a group of agreements made by the people of a society, or their representatives, agreements which the people consider will insure their continuted survival. It is an effort toward survival as a society, an insurance against travial.Terryeo 01:26, 27 April 2006 (UTC)


What about martial law? Doesn't that deserve a mention in here in some way? (The reason I'm not inserting it myself is I'm not too sure about where it would fit in and exactly what it is myself) 00:51, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't think there is anything unique about martial law that warrants mention over any other type of law but it would probably be worth listing in List of areas of law. -PullUpYourSocks 06:47, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

The Truth About The Law And This Article

The failure of one contributor to this article to accept edits which acknowledge the difference between giving legal advice and giving legal fact* sponsors concern that other articles in the Wikipedia may need constant scrutiny to eliminate half truth as well.

(*Edits which make the distinction between legal fact and legal advice are quickly erased: i.e. "The giving of legal advice is the telling of what should or should not be done whereas the giving of legal fact is the telling of what can and what can not be done.")

Such erasure suggests the intent of this editor is to prevent the difference between legal fact and legal advice from being acknowledged so that legal fact will continue to be regarded as legal advice and the law maintained as a trade secret and the public process as a business owned and operated by the legal profession. (Patrick Eberhart) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 04:02, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

The issue here is not about repressing the truth, but rather about properly framing your contribution. Inserting a criticism about the distinction between legal advice and legal information within the first few lines of an article about the global concept of law is totally inappropriate. I could hardly imagine your criticism applies equally to every legal system in history. If you want your contribution to last I would suggest that you find a better way to articulate within a concrete system or circumstances and to cite it so it does not sound like your own home-brewed theory. --PullUpYourSocks 14:35, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Actually I have a better idea. If you want to prove your side of the arguement is not a farce then publish a detailed classification of the law in both substance and procedure. A rigorous and detailed classification would go a long way toward preventing the law from being relegated to a trade secret and the public process to a business owned and operated by the legal profession.

Criticism indeed! The article in its original form merely attempts to conceal the facts which I have stated above and will continue to state here: 1) it is not uncommon to enter a public library anywhere to request information regarding a public process and be told by the librarian in accordance with library policy that such information can not be provided becasue it may be construed as giving legal advice even though it is the rendering of legal fact. 2) Legal practitioners claim the exclusive right to give legal advice on the grounds of possessing a license to practice law. Because many individuals are perfectly capable of providing their own advice many practitioners feel that by expanding the definition of legal advice to include legal fact that they can prevent self representation from eliminating any need for them. 3) In many parts of the world the law is treated in the same way as food preparation, that is, the system is operated on the same concept as food preparation in which legal practitioners are regarded on par with restaurants in terms of role and where total and absolute support is given for food preparation in the home.

My criticism is that you have failed to make a distinction between legal fact and legal advice following a statement that is clearly made to establish that only trained and licensed legal practitioners may render legal advice as a premise on which the remainder of the article will be built. This is done in a world where every single human being is subject to the self serving interests of the legal profession who actively seek to obscure the difference between rendering legal advice and legal fact. Insertion of this clarification hear is absolutely appropriate to avoid such deception.

In absence of such clarification this article is biased. (Patrick Eberhart)

What you are claiming here high debatable. You will need to substantiate your claim using more than just analogies to public libraries and food preparation. --PullUpYourSocks 11:18, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

Your defiance in allowing this clarification to remain unmolested is adequate proof of its validity. Further proof can be obtained by walking into any library and asking how to file virtually any motion. Although the answer to the "how to" question is a matter of providing legal fact it is construde according to libary or librarian policy as providing legal advice so as to require the person seeking the information to hire an attorney instead. Common knowledge such as this does not require citing articles. If you want to treat this fact as a hypothesis and test it, by all means do. The fact that your side of the arguement would only benefit legal practitioners financially is likewise; Ipso Facto, proof enough. 22:29, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

I do not see how you have not proven anything. Rather you have made a number of claims based on some questionable assumptions without showing corroborating evidence. Supporting your claim through personal experience and "common knowledge" is unconvincing and does not meet the standard practice here on wikipedia of contributing verifiable information. The burden is upon you to substantiate your claim and until such time your contribution will be deleted. I would also ask that you refrain from expressing your frustration within the article text. This is vandalism and it will get you blocked from editing. --PullUpYourSocks 02:34, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

I have proven that this article is biased because it does not acknowledge the difference between a legal practitioner giving legal advice and a librarian giving legal information, a stop sign giving legal fact, or a law enforcement officer giving legal notice or warning. My claim is that the article fails to make a distinction between a legal practitioner giving legal advice and a librarian giving legal information, a stop sign giving legal fact, or a law enforcement officer giving legal notice or warning. This is my personal experience, common knowledge and verifiable by reviewing the content of this discussion and the history and content of the article.

Neither does the article provide a rigorous classification of the law in the event you prefer a priori (reason) to a posteriori (experience) as the basis of proof that this article fails to distinguish legal fact from legal advice or opinion. Even in this discussion you have demonstrated your inability to distinguish between fact and opinion. I have not edited anything already existing in the article but have only added factual clarification rather than unfounded opinion. It is not an unfounded opinion or unfounded fact that the de facto consequence of failing to acknowledge the difference between legal advice and legal facts in this article following a statement such as "Legal practitioners, most often, must be professionally trained in the law before they are permitted to advocate for a party in a court of law, draft legal documents, or give legal advice." is to relegate the law as described in this article to the status of a trade secret and the public process to a business owned and operated by the legal profession. The failure to make this distinction allows the phrase "legal advice" to mean anything so long as it remains either arbitrarily defined or undefined. If the phase "legal advice" is important enough to require professional training and permission then it is important enough to be both defined and distinguished from other types of legal terminology or again relegate the law to the status of a trade secret and the public process to a business owned and operated by the legal profession.

Truthful clarification by addition is not vandalism. You not only make absurd threats but base your threats on wrongful accusation. Name the proof that will convince you. This article is biased without such clarification because it intentionally fails to acknowledge the difference between a legal practitioner giving legal advice and a librarian giving legal fact and a law enforcement officer giving legal warning. Show me where this article makes the distinction between legal advice, legal fact and legal warning. Your inability to do so is; Ipso Facto, proof enough of my claim. In the alternative merely show me a rigorous classification of legal procedures and substance. Without either proof the law de jure according to the article is deemed a trade secret and the public process a business owned and operated by the legal profession. This conclusion is based on the facts and not on opinion.

PCE 04:13, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

What you wish to add, if I am to understand correctly, is clarification of the distinction between legal advice and legal information. I agree that it is an important distinction to make in many circumstances but by putting it in the header text of an article on "law" you are establishing that the advice/information issue is central to the very definition of law as a universal principle. I cannot agree with that. None of the basic treatise on law make this out to be a central issue of law. In fact, I am doubtful that the distinction is even made in many parts of the world. What constitutes "legal advice", at least in common law jurisdictions, is established by case law and statute, and so depending on what jurisdiction you are referring to the meaning of the word "legal advice" will be different. This "trade secret" argument that you propose may be valid in whatever jurisdiction you live in but you've presented nothing to suggest that this is a universal principle or characteritic of law. Unless you can show that your claim is universal to all law by means of authoritatize law treaties or other scholarly work such contributions are best placed in articles that concern the precise jurisdiction that you are describing. -PullUpYourSocks 20:26, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Unfortunately the article has already raised the issue of legal advice in the header text of the article as a premise for the rest of the article. This fact mandates that clarification be made in the header before the reader can proceed to other premises or to your conclusion. You feel that the role of legal practitioners is significantly important that it deserves mention here. If you do not agree that it is central to the very definition of law then try moving your statement "Legal practitioners, most often, must be professionally trained in the law before they are permitted to advocate for a party in a court of law, draft legal documents, or give legal advice." to another location especially if you dislike it being followed by this clarification. You might also try following it with your own discourse on the difference between legal advice, legal fact, legal notice and legal warning. At least you are aware that they are not the same and although you disagree with the idea that their distinction deserves explanation if not definition. The fact is that distinction between legal advice, legal fact, legal notice, and legal warning is central to any article that would purport to define the “Law” even if less sophisticated cultures would not employ such a distinction. Legal advice is not as nebulous, uncertain or undefined as you iterate. Legal advice is well understood and defined. Legal advice is the giving of a formal and binding opinion regarding the substance or procedure of the law by an officer of the court in exchange for financial or other tangible compensation. If this is not how you define legal advice please explain to us what exactly your definition of legal advice is.

Whenever a distinction is not made between legal advice, legal fact, legal notice and legal warning they may be erroneously regarded as one in the same. Consequently the need for training and permission associated with giving legal advice is likewise applied to legal information, legal fact, legal notice and legal warning. Since giving legal advice is associated with tangible compensation one would have to pay a legal practitioner to find out what a stop sign meant or why or on what charge one had been arrested. Obtaining knowledge of the law would be relegated to paying a legal practitioner under any and every situation that the legal profession could deem as legal advice thus turning the law into a trade secret and the public process into a business owned and operated by the legal profession. This is in fact what you are advocating by denying that legal advice be distinguished from other forms of legal information. Your position is the most serious indication of internal and inherent corruption within the legal system I can possibly imagine. What makes this a universal principle and definite characteristic is ethics. For too long the legal profession has been cited for its lack of ethics whereas ethics is of fundamental concern to every society worldwide and universally. You should be ashamed for suggesting otherwise and at the same time making a contribution to an article on the law. It is clear than any contribution you intend to make will reject ethics as a fundamental principle to which an author or editor must subscribe and provide. Consult any text on legal ethics and follow the dictums therein or relegate your writing to the dust.

PCE 23:22, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

A link to the meaning of legal advice is enough for this context. As I have said before "legal advice" is not a universal term, and where it is used its meaning is interpreted differently between jurisdictions. In any event, details such as the advice/information distinction is not fundamental to law so it is inappropriate here. Your vigorous insistence to push this "trade secret" descriptor with without any reference to texts or writing and your apparent anamosity towards the legal profession is making it exceptionally difficult for us to come to an agreement on this issue, and unless this changes you will continue to be remain unable to add such content to the article. --PullUpYourSocks 03:38, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

All the more need to define a word or phase that can be and has been abused by misinterpretation. When phases that have more than one sence are not defined when expressed then deception is the purpose of their usage. You can avoid the need for clarification in a header by not using an ambiguity as a premise for the remainder of the article.

I have no animosity for the legal profession but only for those individuals who represent the law and the public process as a toll road for any purpose. Such individuals lack any commitment to legal ethics and are a blight on the legal profession.

PCE 09:09, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

Since the article is about law everywhere, it is necessary to have a degree of ambiguity, hence the use of qualifiers such as "most often". There is really no way around this. We cannot treat any legal system as more worthy of descrition than any other system ,so if we go into detail on the meaning of a term in one part of the world, it follows we must to the same for every other one. This is not practical for this particular article. Accordingly, I trust that the separate article on "legal advice" will satisfy your desire for clarification on the term. --PullUpYourSocks 20:04, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

Not really but I would consider it to be an unreasonable compromise in absence of the benefit of instantaneous reference provided by the hypertext link to a definition. It is the need presented by the printed version that obligates a clarification be spelled out in the immediate vicinity of the text.

It is only the absence of clarification and the intentional misuse and abuse coupled with active promotion of confusion over the term legal advice by profit monger type attorneys that makes the absence of immediate clarification an issue which must be addressed in order that the fundamental legal principle of ethics, in which law everywhere must be based, be defended and upheld.

PCE 23:16, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

A lawyer might be able to agree that Law is: "intended to provide methods for ensuring the impartial treatment of such people, and provide punishments" but a thinking person would instead say, "Law is the commonly agreed on, but formal statements by which a society may continue to survive in the manner its members agree on." That's the theory and ideas. Of course I recognize it is far more popular to consider law to be a series of punishments, a series of arguements, a series of enforcements, but those are equivalent to our "guidelines" rather than a parallel to our "policies" on wikipedia. Law is both policy and later, as implemented by law enforcement, is actual how - to guidelines. But it originates as a philosophy of agreements, not as an "intent" by "Big Brother" whom no man is responsible for. Terryeo 01:22, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

'Impartial' Treatment section

I have a slight problem defining law as something that guarantees the impartial treatment of people as is noted in the first paragraph. Although that may be something we aspire to, such a statement is a clear value judgment. Further more, much of the law currently in place around the world does not at all guarantee impartial treatment. Gender and Ethnic inequalities are still prevalent and enforced though law--should such legal systems not be deemed "law" simply because they enforce clear unjustices (at least in my Western understanding)? Zschaps 03:34, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

I, too, had difficulty with law been equated completly with impartiality. . My edit of saying that some laws in fact intrench unfair treatment or discrimination has been edited out. There once was a law in a part of Europe in the middle ages which made it illegal for men to wear yellow, obviously a partial law against cetain colours Maybe there are people out there who believe laws are never wrong forgetting legal slavery and laws making homosexuality a crime.

This is an important point. At the moment the second sentence says that legal systems are "united in their attempt to ensure impartial treatment of those suspected of breaking the rules and to bring about justice" (my emphasis). Is this wording strong enough to suggest that the attempt is sometimes/often unsuccessful? One must bear in mind that it is the legal systems themselves that define the concepts of impartiality and justice - so it is not immediately apparent that one can stand removed from them and objectively judge them as getting it wrong. Andeggs 22:21, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

The intent and necessity of law

"proscribe or permit specified relationships among people and organizations, intended to provide methods for ensuring the impartial treatment of such people, and provide punishments" Does not address the issues by which Law first comes into existence. There are other difficulties with it too. Law first comes into existence as an agreement amongst parties, this is an action. Yes, it is a "specified relationship" but more generally it is an action which enhances the agreed upon survival of the parties concerned. Law is an action which people create toward their percieved better survival. Laws is not passed with the idea of decreasing survival, Law comes into existence as man's effort to improve his own survival. The introduction misses the point of Law and instead presents that law belongs in the loft where it is to be revered as "impartial punishements". That isn't the case. Man creates his own laws, he abides by them or doesn't as an effort toward community survival, better survival, long term guidelines toward a more comfortable life. The introduction misses the point of law.Terryeo 18:38, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Law Template?

Shall we put the template here? Skinnyweed 20:13, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

No. At least not until my proposed redesign of that template goes through ;+) Please comment on the talk page there. Andeggs 16:39, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Important point, not sure which law article it belongs in

I came across this analysis of the difference between UK and US systems of law. It seems an important distinction, since many en.wikipedia users will looks to one of those two or seek to contrast the European and US legal models.

"The British government is organized around the idea of Parliamentary supremacy. Although British judges review statutes for consistency with the (unwritten) constitution, all they can do is issue a “statement of incompatibility” — unlike our courts which routinely declare laws void as unconstitutional. If Parliament decides not to take a ruling from the highest courts seriously, it has the last word, not the courts. The Prime Minister is an agent of Parliament—unlike our President, he is not elected directly by the people, and he serves at the pleasure of Parliament. The highest court — the Law Lords — is technically a committee of the upper house of Parliament (the House of Lords). The very idea of separation of powers is to this extent foreign to the English system, and so we shouldn’t be surprised that they developed a 'state secrets' privilege that lets the executive trump judicial review." [1]

Any idea where a summary of this rather important distinction goes in the law section? Is there an article covering "Comparison of US and UK legal systems?" FT2 (Talk | email) 10:07, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Too many assumptions

I agree with the above contribution that states the law has no agreed definition. The Law page needs careful writing without assumptions such as all legal systams aim to achieve justice (they do not). Also, the definitions of the branches of law are unusual such as 'religious law'. The law page needs to be less assertive and acknowledge the difficulties of its own defition. Once done any descriptions of law and jurisdictions have been qualified and therefore would face less argument and editing. Richardss 16:04, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree that it would be nice to see the introductory paragraph(s) indicate a more simple/basic definition of "law". See (for example only) the start of the MSN Encarta article on law. Most definitions of law provide that it is the binding agreements of the community (even in a totalitarian system, the community is in tacit agreement to survive under the ultimate ruler's decisions of law). I still believe most of the text as it is has good merit to it in many senses, but I think it begins the discussion midway in a thought stream an therefore assumes too much of the author's mindset about what "law" is before it gets into the hows, whys, and what-ifs (which will vary too much from system to system to be defined in the introduction). Rather than edit them in place, it would be best to overhaul the intro in my opinion. ju66l3r 16:46, 21 August 2006 (UTC)


Hope the pictures, and new categories are an improvement. Suggestions welcome! Wikidea


Hello. For such an important article, this one is in a complete mess. Much of the content is either:

  • sweeping generalisation ("Responsibilities and rights are the language of law.");
  • too specific (e.g. the material on offer, acceptance, consideration and intention in common law contract);
  • wrong ("we may not intentionally harm others' interests without losing our liberty and becoming criminals); or
  • poorly written ("An 'invitation to treat' is a fancy legal term for 'ad'").

It's the first time I've attempted this, but I've begun what I hope will become a complete rewrite. So far I've done the first paragraph and contract law. Hoping others come along to help - my time is quite limited at the moment. Crebbin 15:25, 8 November 2006 (UTC).

Agree, this page needs a lot of work. I've been trying to focus on style issues since I feel I'm not knowledgable enough to make major content changes. One problem that keeps cropping up: unnecessary capitalization ("Tax Law", "History of Law"). We definitely need to see less writing in the first and second person (for example, "Real property refers to land and personal property can be anything else that I can call 'mine'. In property law you learn about mortgages, landlord and tenant relations, covenants, easements and registration of land.") Schi 20:14, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

Editing this page

1. Please provide as many references as possible, and do not delete current ones.

2. Please avoid a definition of law at the start of the article - read about Jurisprudence first, and why this is such a contentious thing. User:Wikidea

I think an adequate definition of law is both possible and desirable. At present the first line of the article reads:
Law is an attempt to mediate between people's interests where they interact. The study of law raises important questions about equality, fairness and justice in society.
To me, that wouldn't really help someone coming to the article to understand what law is. It seems a little too vague to be of much use. I understand that a definition of law might be a matter of debate, but we can surely do better. My favoured version, which I'd written into an earlier version of this article, runs something along the lines of:
The law is the body of rules of a society that are enforceable through a system of courts.
It's similar in essence to the definitions at, the 1913 Webster's Dictionary, Wiktionary and the Oxford Dictionary of Law (none of which mention mediation between people's interests where they interact or anything similar, by the way).
I know little about Jurisprudence, but judging by the Wikipedia article it seems to be more concerned with the ultimate source of law, how it's justified, why we should follow it, etc etc, than it does about definitions of law and why they're difficult (the article doesn't mention the word 'define' or similar once).
The first lines of the Law article should attempt to define what the law is, rather than the meaning behind it or what it seeks to achieve. Thoughts?? Crebbin 19:25, 21 November 2006 (UTC).
Update: Just found quite a lot of material on 'what is law' at Philosophy of law (possibly due for a merge with Jurisprudence?) which does argue the question of the proper definition of law. Worth a look. I'd still favour the straightforward definition proposed above, however, though perhaps qualified by a link to the controversy. The arguments between positivism, natural law, realism and interpretivism are sophisticated beyond the scope of an opening paragraph in an article on simply 'Law'. Crebbin 19:39, 21 November 2006 (UTC).
I much prefer your straightforward definition as well. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines law thus:

a (1) : a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority (2) : the whole body of such customs, practices, or rules (3) : COMMON LAW b (1) : the control brought about by the existence or enforcement of such law (2) : the action of laws considered as a means of redressing wrongs; also : LITIGATION (3) : the agency of or an agent of established law c : a rule or order that it is advisable or obligatory to observe d : something compatible with or enforceable by established law e : CONTROL, AUTHORITY

I like "binding custom or practice of a community". I'll check how Black's defines "law" later too. Schi 19:49, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Definitions of Law

No really, you shouldn't try to define law at the start - it's a huge philosophical debate. I like to think of it this way:

Q: "what is a chair?" A: "a thing used primarily for sitting on, often with four legs."

Now you can define a chair, mostly, but you need words like 'primarily' and 'often', because sometimes people stand on chairs, etc. People get an idea when you describe some central purpose, that most people would agree upon.

But then you have a question that brings the problem into even sharper focus, like:

Q: "what is a friend" A: "well, it's someone that you like, or helps you, or gives you money when you need it, bails you out of prison, or..."

When we try to give a definition of something, the problem is that, even something as simple as a chair can have a completely different definition to different people. But when we're talking about social concepts, it's not so easy to run over the minor uses for the thing we're trying to define, because who am I to say that your concept of friendship (or law) is the illegitimate one compared to mine?

Perhaps, the best way to define 'friend' is to go:

A: "Bob, James, Christine, and my dog Lassie"

... if you see what I mean. And so the same with law, I'd say the best way to explain it to people at the start is to say where we see it, give examples, etc. Writing things like "law mediates peoples interests" is perhaps cheating a bit, getting around the definition problem, because that's not saying what law is, but what we hope it does. You could also say "law oppresses the weak" or the reverse, or whatever. But maybe we'd hope that it does mediate people's relationships, and this 'act' raises questions of equality, fairness and justice?

Have a read of Ludwig Wittgenstein's page, a philosopher who grappled with what's sometimes called the 'cult of definition' throughout his life, and changed his views radically.

I'm putting in stuff in the Jurisprudence section about the definition debate now. User:Wikidea

Hi, thanks, I've read Wittgenstein and other philosophers of language. It's not necessarily very relevant to the discussion here. I'm quite certain it's not impossible to create a concise description of something that will serve the purposes of the introduction to an encyclopedia article. For example, see the rest of the encyclopedia. Schi 01:17, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
Must agree with Shi. We could argue forever about the difficulties of defining anything, but at the end of the day we've got an encyclopedia to write. Every other article (including Chair and Friendship) manage to make a good attempt a definition without too much trouble.
We all define things to ourselves and each other every day without having to debate about "what is a definition" - if someone were to ask me "What is a book?" I'd say something like "It's a load of sheets of paper bound together along one edge. Examples include... They're used for..." rather than "Ooh that's a good question. What is a book? Examples include... They're used for..." The first method is much more useful because it provides an immediate idea of what a book is, rather than forcing the listener to rely on a process of induction to try and figure out for himself what we're trying to get at. Crebbin 02:02, 24 November 2006 (UTC).
Okay, maybe you're right that there ought to be common sense approach, which is better than nothing - Wittgenstein is going a bit too deep into it, and I should've looked at the friendship page, etc! But honestly, if you have a look at the stuff I've put down about jurisprudence, there IS an enormous difficulty.
The four leading authors (Hart, Raz, Dworkin and Finnis) all say ENTIRELY contradictory things on the matter. Hart said law is 'a system of rules' ; then Dworkin said, no, it's an 'interpretive CONCEPT' - which brings law in to realm of that which is not laid down (this is the positivist debate) but intertwined with moral and ethical persuasions. Then Raz says, you're both wrong, law's certainly nothing to do with morality at all (he's what you call a 'hard positivist') and to give any definition beyond the word 'authority' is straying into flimsy socio-anthropological fluff. And THEN there's Finnis, who feels himself to be carrying the torch of mediaeval theologians who makes an argument similar to the above about definitions in his first chapter, but then proceeds to say that the law which really matters is the so called 'natural law,' defined in terms of a group of human rights.
So I'm just concerned that the complexity of a seemingly simple first sentence is appreciated! User:Wikidea
I appreciate the difficulty. What if the first sentence went something along the lines of "Law may be defined for everyday purposes as the body of rules of a society that are enforceable through a system of courts, though the meaning and purpose of law have been the subject of debate among philosophers and jurists for centuries (see Jurisprudence)". A bit of a mouthful, but I'm sure someone having decent prose could clean it up a bit. Crebbin 00:08, 28 November 2006 (UTC).
I would leave out "by the courts" or any equivalent phrase; law enforcement is done in part through the executive, so "by the courts" seems a bit misleadingly specific, since it's talking about a specific type of enforcement. The essence is (a) the rule or body of rules, (b) which are enforced on members. --lquilter 18:19, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
  • I agree we can and should have a definition, like every other article. The current lede is really problematic -- it starts out with a sentence "Law comes into almost every area of life" -- which is stylistically unpleasant and vague. I like the definitions that run along these lines (and proffer my own version): "Law is the term for a set of rules, or a term describing a specific rule, enforced by a governing body on its members." --lquilter 17:57, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

Maintaining a worldwide view


We have some good material on this page now but we must ensure that the information does not unduly concentrate on European and Americal law, especially in the opening sections. I suggest the following headings for the article, with v brief descriptions of content given in squre brackets. Please comment on them:

  1. What is law? [Introduction to philosophy of law and jurisprudence]
  2. Legal systems of the world [Outline of civil, criminal, customary and religious law and their historical origins. Explanation of statutory and non-statutory law]
  3. Private law [Civil law, Law of obligations, Contract, Tort, Wills and Trusts]
  4. Public law [Criminal law, Constitutional law, Administrative law]
  5. International law
  6. Enforcement and adjudication [Military, police, Courts, lawyers, judges, etc.]

Andeggs 15:51, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Seems like a decent layout to me, though I might be tempted to create separate sections on the history of law and an overview of legal systems. Either way I guess.
I've had the same thought about the western bias of the article. There also seems to be a bias towards common-law (as opposed to civil law) systems. I suppose it's more or less inevitable in an English language article on a specialised and geographically sensitive subject: I for one know next to nothing about European civil law, let alone jurisdictions further afield. Might have a look at individual articles (e.g. Chinese law) and consolidate some of the content from them. Crebbin 00:24, 28 November 2006 (UTC).

Please don't break it up in that way. At school, philosophy of law/jurisprudence was the last thing we learnt, because it's probably the most abstract and irrelevant discussion that you can have about law! There's already a section on legal systems of the world, but I'm not sure it's as important to start with, because the only major difference in approach is a focus on 'case law' or codifications by parliaments. Systems have more in common than there is dividing them - i.e. the legal subjects. Then, it's increasingly outdated to divide private and public law - for instance, competition law transcends both. Criminal law is not part of private law (an error perhaps that you picked up from the previous template?). Lastly, institutions are probably best left at the bottom, as you suggest. But is there a need to call it enforcement and adjudication? That'd seem to include only police, military and courts.
But it's quite right to say that it is too focussed on Common law systems. The contract and tort sections are a bit unintegrated with other rules, so I'm completely happy for those to be updated with other references. Chinese law, (where there is law, by the way) is largely based on the German BGB. I'll try to put in the stuff to contract and tort that I know about Germany. Maybe these two bits could be moved further down, since people criminal and public law are more familiar subjects? Wikidea 07:08, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Law and laws

How can the introduction to an article about law speak almost only about laws? It looks like it's playing with words... Has someone noticed that this introduction wouldn't be meaningfully transtable to any other European language? It is about two different things! Velho 04:33, 23 December 2006 (UTC)