WJP Rule of Law Index

If a country has an entrenched constitution, a special majority for changes to the constitution may be required, making changes to the Law News more difficult. A government usually leads the process, which can be formed from Members of Parliament (e.g. the UK or Germany). However, in a presidential system, the government is usually formed by an executive and his or her appointed cabinet officials (e.g. the United States or Brazil). Examples include the Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia—both of which translate as the “path to follow”—while Christian canon law also survives in some church communities. Often the implication of religion for law is unalterability, because the word of God cannot be amended or legislated against by judges or governments.

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European Union law is the first and so far the only example of a supranational law, i.e. an internationally accepted legal system, other than the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. Given the trend of increasing global economic integration, many regional agreements—especially the African Union—seek to follow a similar model. In the EU, sovereign nations have gathered their authority in a system of courts and the European Parliament. These institutions are allowed the ability to enforce legal norms both against or for member states and citizens in a manner which is not possible through public international law. As the European Court of Justice noted in its 1963 Van Gend en Loos decision, European Union law constitutes “a new legal order of international law” for the mutual social and economic benefit of the member states. In civil law systems such as those of Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Greece, there is a distinct category of notary, a legally trained public official, compensated by the parties to a transaction.

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Today, businesses are increasingly capable of shifting capital and labour supply chains across borders, as well as trading with overseas businesses, making the question of which country has jurisdiction even more pressing. Increasing numbers of businesses opt for commercial arbitration under the New York Convention 1958. Public international law concerns relationships between sovereign nations. The sources for public international law development are custom, practice and treaties between sovereign nations, such as the Geneva Conventions. Public international law can be formed by international organisations, such as the United Nations , the International Labour Organisation, the World Trade Organisation , or the International Monetary Fund. Public international law has a special status as law because there is no international police force, and courts (e.g. the International Court of Justice as the primary UN judicial organ) lack the capacity to penalise disobedience.

Similarly, traditional Chinese law gave way to westernisation towards the final years of the Qing Dynasty in the form of six private law codes based mainly on the Japanese model of German law. Today Taiwanese law retains the closest affinity to the codifications from that period, because of the split between Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists, who fled there, and Mao Zedong’s communists who won control of the mainland in 1949. The current legal infrastructure in the People’s Republic of China was heavily influenced by Soviet Socialist law, which essentially inflates administrative law at the expense of private law rights.

Modern military, policing and bureaucratic power over ordinary citizens’ daily lives pose special problems for accountability that earlier writers such as Locke or Montesquieu could not have foreseen. The custom and practice of the legal profession is an important part of people’s access to justice, whilst civil society is a term used to refer to the social institutions, communities and partnerships that form law’s political basis. In common law legal systems, decisions by courts are explicitly acknowledged as “law” on equal footing with statutes adopted through the legislative process and with regulations issued by the executive branch. The “doctrine of precedent”, or stare decisis (Latin for “to stand by decisions”) means that decisions by higher courts bind lower courts, and future decisions of the same court, to assure that similar cases reach similar results. In order to maintain professionalism, the practice of law is typically overseen by either a government or independent regulating body such as a bar association, bar council or law society. There are few titles of respect to signify famous lawyers, such as Esquire, to indicate barristers of greater dignity, and Doctor of law, to indicate a person who obtained a PhD in Law.

The prevailing manner of enforcing international law is still essentially “self help”; that is the reaction by states to alleged breaches of international obligations by other states. However, a few bodies, such as the WTO, have effective systems of binding arbitration and dispute resolution backed up by trade sanctions. There are distinguished methods of legal reasoning and methods of interpreting the law.

In other words, understanding a particular action requires applying the theory’s laws and deriving a solution. Space law is a relatively new field dealing with aspects of international law regarding human activities in Earth orbit and outer space. While at first addressing space relations of countries via treaties, increasingly it is addressing areas such as space commercialisation, property, liability, and other issues. Intellectual property law aims at safeguarding creators and other producers of intellectual goods and services.