Chapter One: Basic Legal Concepts.
A law is a special type of rule that has been made by a person or institution that has the authority to make laws. This is referred to as sovereign power. The most important feature of law is that it is universal. This means that the law applies constantly and consistently. The law is always in effect and it applies to everyone (rule of law-no one is above the law). Laws are enforced by the police and the courts, who are acting on behalf of society. Customs can be defined as the ways of behaving that have been established through longstanding traditions. Customs are not written down, instead, they tend to be passed down from generation to generation. Rules are established to ensure the smooth operation of society, they only apply to certain people at certain times. Penalties such as fines are often used to ensure that people comply with rules. The values societies hold are a reflection of the things that are considered important. These values are often reflected in the law. Ethics are defined as those things that a society considers to be right and wrong. When we act ethically, we act in the right way. In order to be valid, a law must be just. A just law has several characteristics, including: * It is equal. A just law is one that treats every person the same. * It is based on widely held values. Laws should be based on the values and ethics held by most of society. * It is utilitarian. Utilitarianism is the philosophy of ensuring an action achieves the greatest good for the greatest number of people. * It aims to redress inequalities. This means that law should not create inequality or injustice. * It must minimise delay.
* It must not be retrospective. The law must be made for the future. * The law must be known. Laws must be known before they are enforced. The nature of justice: justice is a combination of equality, fairness and access. Justice requires laws that do not discriminate and that are...
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