Free sample essay on Basic Functions of Law

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Basic Functions of Law

Law is a form of social control made up of a body of rules prescribed by the government. The basic function of law is to provide justice and stability to the society. Laws do this by dictating what is right and wrong, settling criminal and non criminal issues, protecting private property, and solving personal or business related disputes (Mann & Roberts, 2009). The law also guides the judicial system and directs the courts on how to resolve disputes. They also give guidelines on how it should be done.

Substantive and procedural law

Substantive law guides the conducts of citizens by defining and regulating their legal rights and obligations. For example, all citizens are entitled to enjoy their property without interference from another. When a citizen's right is infringed by another, he may want to be compensated for the damage. The courts, through substantive law, will assess the situation and determine if the mistake is wrongful by society's standard (Mann & Roberts, 2009). Procedural law is also referred to as Adjective law. This law mainly deals with the methods and protocol of obtaining redress for infringed rights. They are created for the sole purpose of ensuring that parties involved will be afforded fair and impartial treatment. Procedural law dictate in which court a lawsuit should be heard, the time limit for seeking redress, which papers to file, and which witnesses should be called.

Public and private law

Public law is concerned with relations between persons and the State. It encompasses all areas of law that brings us into contact with state and its branches. It regulates the relationship between individuals and the state. Private law, on the other hand, deals with the mutual rights and obligations of individuals. It deals with the relationship between people, companies, and organizations. Examples include torts, contracts, and employment laws.

Civil and criminal law

Civil law spells the duty existing between persons or organizations. It deals with disputes between individuals in which compensation, which is usually monetary, may be awarded to the victim for injury or damage. Criminal law is a body of law that deals with crime and is designed to maintain order and safety in society. The government imposes a penalty on the guilty person.

The principle of 'stare decisis'

'Stare decisis' is a Latin term that means "to abide by decided cases". This doctrine states that if a court sets a legal principle then that court and all the lower courts will apply that principle in future cases if the fact are similar (Mann & Roberts, 2009). In most cases, the judicial practice of 'stare decisis' leads to judicial precedent and predictability. This is because courts are bound to look to prior cases in deciding present cases. This implies that courts' rulings have value as precedent for future cases if the facts are substantially the same. Thus, the attorney only needs to research on prior cases and then predicts how a court will decide. Should a lower court fail to abide to the precedent set by a higher court then the decision can be reversed by the appellate court on appeal.


Mann, R. A. & Roberts, B. S. (2009). Essentials of business law and the legal environment. Cengage Learning