Public versus Private Law

Public versus Private Law

Public law affects and protects society, while private law affects and protects people.

Public Law

Public law is a branch of law which determines and regulates the organization and functioning of states (countries). Public law regulates the relationship between the government and its citizens. Constitutional law is one type of public law. Another type of public law is administrative law. The everyday lives of Canadians are probably more affected by administrative law than any other branch of law. Victims of violent crimes seeking reparation for injuries or expenses, injured workers seeking compensation, and people concerned about a subdivision being built near a conservation area all find themselves involved in administrative law. It is criminal law, however, another type of public law that attracts the most media attention. Criminal law prohibits and punishes behaviour that causes harm to others such as murder, robbery, or assault. All crimes are described in the Criminal Code of Canada and only the federal government has the authority to pass criminal legislation.

Private Law

Private law, more commonly known as civil law, applies to relationships between individuals in a legal system, such as contracts and labor. It covers all the areas of law that deal with legal relationships between individuals and between individuals and organizations (excluding the government). The main purpose of private law is to regulate conduct and compensate individuals who have been harmed by the wrongful actions of others. Private law refers to torts (civil injuries), contracts, and family law. It also includes property law, employment law and estate law.

Is there any real substance to this dichotomy?

Currently, the development of many categories of law raises, often, issues that can be described as both public and private but that are better described not as a mixture of two braches of law.

See Also

Criminal law versus Civil law
Private international law resources
Substance versus Procedure (7)
Public International Law Classification (Max Planck Institute)
Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law
List of international public law topics



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