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LII Legal Information Institute

From 529 to 534 AD the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I codified and consolidated Roman law up until that point, so that what remained was one-twentieth of the mass of legal texts from before. As one legal historian wrote, “Justinian consciously looked back to the golden age of Roman law and aimed to restore it to the peak it had reached three centuries before.” The Justinian Code remained in force in the East until the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Western Europe, meanwhile, relied on a mix of the Theodosian Code and Germanic customary law until the Justinian Code was rediscovered in the 11th century, and scholars at the University of Bologna used it to interpret their own laws.

  • Real property, sometimes called ‘real estate’, refers to ownership of land and things attached to it.
  • Law, the discipline and profession concerned with the customs, practices, and rules of conduct of a community that are recognized as binding by the community.
  • Although the role of the executive varies from country to country, usually it will propose the majority of legislation, and propose government agenda.
  • In developing the common law, academic writings have always played an important part, both to collect overarching principles from dispersed case law, and to argue for change.
  • Yet classification is a matter of form rather than substance since similar rules often prevail.

However, a few bodies, such as the WTO, have effective systems of binding arbitration and dispute resolution backed up by trade sanctions. In order to maintain professionalism, the practice of Law is typically overseen by either a government or independent regulating body such as a bar association, bar council or law society. There are few titles of respect to signify famous lawyers, such as Esquire, to indicate barristers of greater dignity, and Doctor of law, to indicate a person who obtained a PhD in Law.

Strict duties for trustees made their way into company law and were applied to directors and chief executive officers. Another example of a trustee’s duty might be to invest property wisely or sell it. This is especially the case for pension funds, the most important form of trust, where investors are trustees for people’s savings until retirement. But trusts can also be set up for charitable purposes, famous examples being the British Museum or the Rockefeller Foundation.

Yet classification is a matter of form rather than substance since similar rules often prevail. Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, was based on the concept of Ma’at and characterised by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality. By the 22nd century BC, the ancient Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu had formulated the first law code, which consisted of casuistic statements (“if … then …”).

Criminal systems of the civil law tradition distinguish between intention in the broad sense , and negligence. Negligence does not carry criminal responsibility unless a particular crime provides for its punishment. In civil law systems such as those of Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Greece, there is a distinct category of notary, a legally trained public official, compensated by the parties to a transaction. This is a 16th-century painting of such a notary by Flemish painter Quentin Massys. Most countries have systems of appeal courts, with an apex court as the ultimate judicial authority. In the United States, this authority is the Supreme Court; in Australia, the High Court; in the UK, the Supreme Court; in Germany, the Bundesverfassungsgericht; and in France, the Cour de Cassation.

In the UK the upper house is appointed by the government as a house of review. One criticism of bicameral systems with two elected chambers is that the upper and lower houses may simply mirror one another. The traditional justification of bicameralism is that an upper chamber acts as a house of review. Some countries allow their highest judicial authority to overrule legislation they determine to be unconstitutional. For example, in Brown v. Board of Education, the United States Supreme Court nullified many state statutes that had established racially segregated schools, finding such statutes to be incompatible with the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Jurimetrics is the formal application of quantitative methods, especially probability and statistics, to legal questions.

One definition is that law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour. From Native American law to trial advocacy, and from environmental law to human rights, UCLA Law is home to top programs, centers and institutes that offer unique learning opportunities and a chance for students to make an impact while still in school. UW Law students learn not only the legal rules, but why those rules evolved to address social concerns, and how they operate in the real world. That’s what makes UW a different kind of law school, and why Wisconsin will make you a different — and better — kind of lawyer.

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The goldsmith’s apprentice looked at it, sneakily removed the stones, told the boy it was worth three halfpence and that he would buy it. The boy said he would prefer the jewel back, so the apprentice gave it to him, but without the stones. Lord Chief Justice Pratt ruled that even though the boy could not be said to own the jewel, he should be considered the rightful keeper (“finders keepers”) until the original owner is found.

Formal legal rationality was his term for the key characteristic of the kind of coherent and calculable law that was a precondition for modern political developments and the modern bureaucratic state. Weber saw this law as having developed in parallel with the growth of capitalism. Another leading sociologist, Émile Durkheim, wrote in his classic work The Division of Labour in Society that as society becomes more complex, the body of civil law concerned primarily with restitution and compensation grows at the expense of criminal laws and penal sanctions. Other notable early legal sociologists included Hugo Sinzheimer, Theodor Geiger, Georges Gurvitch and Leon Petrażycki in Europe, and William Graham Sumner in the U.S. The most prominent economic analyst of law is 1991 Nobel Prize winner Ronald Coase, whose first major article, The Nature of the Firm , argued that the reason for the existence of firms (companies, partnerships, etc.) is the existence of transaction costs. Rational individuals trade through bilateral contracts on open markets until the costs of transactions mean that using corporations to produce things is more cost-effective.

His second major article, The Problem of Social Cost , argued that if we lived in a world without transaction costs, people would bargain with one another to create the same allocation of resources, regardless of the way a court might rule in property disputes. Coase used the example of a nuisance case named Sturges v Bridgman, where a noisy sweetmaker and a quiet doctor were neighbours and went to court to see who should have to move. Coase said that regardless of whether the judge ruled that the sweetmaker had to stop using his machinery, or that the doctor had to put up with it, they could strike a mutually beneficial bargain about who moves that reaches the same outcome of resource distribution. So the law ought to pre-empt what would happen, and be guided by the most efficient solution. The idea is that law and regulation are not as important or effective at helping people as lawyers and government planners believe. Coase and others like him wanted a change of approach, to put the burden of proof for positive effects on a government that was intervening in the market, by analysing the costs of action.

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