The Basics of Law


The study of law has a vast range of applications and touches nearly every aspect of life. Generally, law is divided into three main areas: criminal law, civil procedure, and evidence law. Each of these areas deals with the rules of court procedures and citizens’ rights to a fair trial. In addition, each deals with the admissibility of evidence in a court.

Rules of law

A rule of law is the adherence to a set of laws that are uniform, fair, and just. The concept of the rule of law was first advocated by Sir Edward Coke, a Chief Justice during King James I’s reign. Sir Edward was one of the first to oppose the concept of the Divine Concept and believed that the King should be subject to the rule of law. The doctrine of the rule of law was further developed by A.V. Dicey in Introduction to the Law of Constitution (1885) in which he defined it as “no man above the law.” According to Dicey, the concept of the rule of law means that there is no man above the law and that the Law always prevails over the Government.

The Rule of Law requires that the law be accessible and easily understood by individuals. Because modern law can be very technical and complex, laypersons will often need professional assistance. Therefore, there must be a balanced combination of professional competence in the rule of law that is understandable by laypeople.

Courts as a source of legal authority

Although courts are often considered a source of legal authority, their function is limited. They hear cases and render decisions only in cases that are brought to them by a party. Unlike other types of courts, the Supreme Court does not issue advisory opinions, which give legal advice. The Supreme Court is also limited in its scope of cases it hears, and the justices are vested with significant discretion.

Primary sources of law are the Constitution, statutes, regulations, and cases. Secondary sources include encyclopedias, treatises, hornbooks, and legal digests. These secondary sources can provide a basic understanding of a particular type of law and may influence lawmaking.

Legal reasoning

Legal reasoning is a type of reasoning that helps guide a person’s actions and decisions, in a way that is both accurate and reasonable. It is fundamental to rational adjudication, and is used by judges to resolve and anticipate legal disputes. Furthermore, legal reasoning should be consistent, so that it applies to similar cases. The notion of precedent, in which past cases are cited as examples of how judges should decide specific cases, also pertains to legal reasoning. Every legal decision should be consistent with previous ones, and must follow the precedence established by previous decisions.

Third-year students’ descriptions of legal reasoning were richer and more diverse than those of first-year students. They mentioned four main features of legal reasoning, compared to two or three features mentioned by second-year students. In addition, they provided more detailed and coherent descriptions. As a result, this study suggests that it is important to provide more support for the development of legal reasoning in law education.

Legal interpretation

Legal interpretation of law is a process of interpreting legal texts. It starts with the input, such as the legal texts themselves, legal practices, and customs, and ends with an output. There is a lot of debate about the proper theory and method of legal interpretation. Nevertheless, the basic issue is what is the output of legal interpretation?

Intentionalism is a form of legal interpretation that emphasizes the importance of determining the intent of the framers and ratifiers of the Constitution. Although the meaning of a text often provides a guide to relevant intentions, the historical and cultural context of the law can also be considered.