Types of Law

English law is a Common Law system – that is to say, the main body of law is contained in a set of legal principles and rules that are not set down in a formal codified manner but are extrapolated from previously made judicial decisions; in other words, the law is ‘unenacted’. This type of system must be contrasted with ‘Civil Law’ systems, such as, for example, the French legal system, where the entire body of legal principles is contained in an enacted, codified law system. Although the majority of legal principles are found in the Common Law, English law does of course also contain many enacted laws in the form of Acts of Parliament. 1- Public Law:This is any area of law which governs the relationship between individuals and the State. Thus, when a person/company does not comply with a legal rule, that person will be dealt with by the State, i.e. on behalf of other members of the State. Of the areas of law which come within the Public Law category, most obvious is Criminal Law. If a person commits a criminal offence he will be prosecuted by the State. Other areas of law within this category include administrative and constitutional law. 2- Private Law.  This is any area of law which governs the relationship between one individual and another. In English law this is referred to as ‘Civil’ law and is frequently contrasted with Criminal law. Non-compliance/breach of a civil law principle is a ‘wrong’ against the person/property injured. Any right of action against the wrongdoer is only at the suit of the injured party; there is no outside intervention. Note carefully that the English use of the phrase ‘Civil Law’ is meant in contrast with Criminal Law. In other jurisdictions the phrase ‘Civil Law’ may mean the entire codified law of the State which includes principles relating to both criminal and non-criminal law.