Wikipedia portal for content related to Law / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Table info: .mw-parser-output .navbar{display inline;font...

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


The Court of Common Pleas, or Common Bench, was a common law court in the English legal system that covered "common pleas"; actions between subject and subject, which did not concern the king. Created in the late 12th to early 13th century after splitting from the Exchequer of Pleas, the Common Pleas served as one of the central English courts for around 600 years. Authorised by Magna Carta to sit in a fixed location, the Common Pleas sat in Westminster Hall for its entire existence, joined by the Exchequer of Pleas and Court of King's Bench.

The court's jurisdiction was gradually undercut by the King's Bench and Exchequer of Pleas with legal fictions, the Bill of Middlesex and Writ of Quominus respectively. The Common Pleas maintained its exclusive jurisdiction over matters of real property until its dissolution, and due to its wide remit was considered by Sir Edward Coke to be the "lock and key of the common law". It was staffed by one Chief Justice and a varying number of puisne justices, who were required to be Serjeants-at-Law, and until the mid 19th century only Serjeants were allowed to plead there. (Full article...)

Selected biography

Ioan Constantin Filitti (Romanian pronunciation: [iˈo̯aŋ konstanˈtin fiˈliti]; first name also Ion; Francized Jean C. Filitti; May 8, 1879 – September 21, 1945) was a Romanian historian, diplomat and conservative theorist, best remembered for his contribution to social history, legal history, genealogy and heraldry. A member of the Conservative Party and an assistant of its senior leader Titu Maiorescu, he had aristocratic (boyar) origins and an elitist perspective. Among his diverse contributions, several focus on 19th-century modernization under the Regulamentul Organic regime, during which Romania was ruled upon by the Russian Empire. As a historian, Filitti is noted for his perfectionism, and for constantly revising his own works.

I. C. Filitti had an auspicious debut in diplomacy and politics, but his career was mired in controversy. A "Germanophile" by the start of World War I, he secretly opposed the pact between Romania and the Entente Powers, and opted to stay behind in German-occupied territory. He fell into disgrace for serving the collaborationist Lupu Kostaki as Prefect and head of the National Theater, although he eventually managed to overturn his death sentence for treason. Filitti became a recluse, focusing on his scholarship and press polemics, but was allowed to serve on the Legislative Council after 1926.

In his political tracts, written well after the Conservative Party's demise, I. C. Filitti preserves the orthodox conservative principles of Maiorescu. His attachment to boyar tradition was expanded into a critique of centralized government, etatism and Romanian liberalism. Toward the end of his life, he supported the dictatorial regime known as National Renaissance Front. (Full article...)

Selected statute

A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutes are rules made by legislative bodies; they are distinguished from case law or precedent, which is decided by courts, and regulations issued by government agencies. (Full article...)

The Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7. c. 9) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the auxiliary forces of the British Army by transferring existing Volunteer and Yeomanry units into a new Territorial Force (TF); and disbanding the Militia to form a new Special Reserve of the Regular Army. This reorganisation formed a major part of the Haldane Reforms, named after the creator of the Act, Richard Haldane.

The lessons learned during the South African War of 1899-1902 had reinforced the idea that the Regular Army was not capable of fighting a prolonged full-scale war without significant assistance; almost all regular units in the United Kingdom had been deployed overseas within four months of the outbreak of hostilities. Furthermore, by the end of the first year of fighting, the Regular Reserve and the Militia Reserve had been entirely exhausted. (Regular reservists were members of the Regular Army who had retired from the active-duty portion of their service but remained available for the callout. The Militia Reserve was a pool of individuals within the Militia, who accepted an overseas service liability). There had been no thought before the war about the wider use of auxiliary forces overseas; in the event, volunteers had been used on an ad-hoc basis, and a new auxiliary arm (the Imperial Yeomanry) was formed to provide specialist troops, but it was clear that a more effective system was required in future. A number of attempts at reform under the Conservative government of 1901-1905 had failed to make any lasting changes to the system and left the auxiliary forces disorganised and demoralised.

Despite his efforts, several groups vocally opposed his approach: first, the National Service League, led by Field Marshal Lord Roberts, and backed by retired senior officers and some Conservative MPs. They argued that auxiliary forces would be ineffective against Continental armies, even, at one point, enlisting the support of the king. At the same time, the Labour Party members generally opposed any increase in military strength. Further opposition came from protagonists of the existing system, especially the militia. In the face of all these forces, Haldane made a series of last-minute changes to the bill when he presented it in March 1907, including restricting compulsory service to Home defence only. Nevertheless, the structure remained much larger than was likely to be necessary for home defence and included all the supporting arms and services for the planned fourteen full divisions and he commented that 'they could go abroad if they wish.' The bill was put before the Commons on 4 March, then debated in late March and throughout April, where it received prolific but disorganised opposition, mainly from partisans of the existing system. It had its third reading in June, passing with a comfortable majority, and received the Royal Assent in August; the Act became effective immediately, though the bulk of its reforms were scheduled to begin on 1 April 1908. (Full article...)

Did you know...

Aerial photograph of an island.

  • ... that in the Bancoult litigation, the English courts and government first decided that the Chagossians could return home (pictured), then that they couldn't, then that they could, and then that they couldn't?

Selected images

Selected case

Case law, also used interchangeably with common law, is 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...)

A colorful coat of arms

Pepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart [1992] UKHL 3, is a landmark decision of the House of Lords on the use of legislative history in statutory interpretation. The court established the principle that when primary legislation is ambiguous then, in certain circumstances, the court may refer to statements made in the House of Commons or House of Lords in an attempt to interpret the meaning of the legislation. Before this ruling, such an action would have been seen as a breach of parliamentary privilege.

John Hart and nine others were teachers at Malvern College who benefited from a "concessionary fee" scheme that allowed their children to be educated at the college for one-fifth of the normal fees. The Inland Revenue attempted to tax this benefit based on the Finance Act 1976. There was a dispute over the correct interpretation of the Act. The Special Commissioners charged with assessing the tax found in favour of Hart, but both the High Court of Justice and Court of Appeal of England and Wales found in favour of the Inland Revenue. The case then went to the House of Lords, which, making use of statements in Parliament as recorded in Hansard, found in favour of Hart. Lord Mackay, dissenting, argued that Hansard should not be considered admissible evidence because of the time and expense involved in a lawyer having to look up every debate and discussion on a particular statute when giving legal advice or preparing a case. (Full article...)

More Did you know (auto-generated)


General images

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


Quality content

Extended content
Featured articles
Featured lists
Did you know? articles