Classification of Law
Law is indeed is as big like an ocean which has no limits and its barely possible for anyone to have command over or even knowledge of entire law. Since, law is so wide and broad it cannot be understood as it is because it will eventually create confusion because of its complexities and nature therefore, in order to understand law better, its classification is very important. It will make the nature, scope, purpose and subject of law easy and understandable. Further, classification will help in codification of distinct laws for distinct purposes. It also helps in understanding the inter-relation of among different laws.
Broadly the law is classified into following categories-
1. International and Municipal Law.
2. Civil and Criminal Law.
3. Substantive and Procedural Law.
4. Statutory and Non-Statutory Law.
It is law which governs the inter-relations between two or more sovereign states. In 18th century, international law was termed as “Law of Nations” by Bentham. By the term law of nations, it is clear that it denotes the law which will govern the relationships between States which they made either by themselves by entering into international conventions, agreements or pacts or by virtue of customs for e.g., Law of sea. The concept of International Law was a matter of debate and it faced a lot of criticism that there is nothing like international law and its not even a law because it lacks many basic elements of law and Austin supported this view. But later on, it was propounded by Kelson that international law is a much superior law and have binding power on the acts and relations of States with other States. Now, International law has been incorporated by many States as a part of their law for example, U.S.A. where it was held that international law shall be a part of their Nation. Also, in India, Article 51 of the Constitution of India obligates the government to incorporate international in municipal law.
Further international law is classified into two-
a) Public International Law– it is a set of those rules and regulations which regulates the conduct and relation between States.
b) Private International Law– it is a set of those rules and regulations which come into play when any dispute or case of foreign element is to be decided.
It is the law of State here state means a particular State or nation. Municipal law is also known as domestic law. It includes state laws, territorial laws, local, regional or provincial laws. It is territorial in nature because it is applicable to the territorial jurisdiction of State and cannot go beyond that. It determines the rules and regulations for both State and its subjects and they will be applicable within that state and in certain circumstances outside the jurisdiction also. Municipal law can further be divided into public law and private law.
a) Public Law- most of the state activities are determined by its public law. the public law determines the nature and regulates the functioning and organization of state. It describes the relationship of State with its subjects. Here the term public means either state, a sovereign part of state, an authority of individual to whom the powers of state are delegated. It is further classified into constitutional law and administrative law-
i. Constitutional law- It is the law of the land. The most superior law. all the domestic laws derive its existence from constitutional law. it is the foremost requirement for any municipal law to be in consonance with its constitutional law otherwise it will be declared as unconstitutional or unlawful. The Constitutional law determines the nature of government and its structure. It also describes the functions, structure and organization of three organs of a State i.e., legislature, executive and judiciary. Every state makes its constitution keeping in the mind the current and future situations. However, it is not necessary to have a codified and written constitution but still many countries have written constitution on a safer side.
ii. Administrative law- It deals with functions, powers and organization of administration of state. It determines political powers and its limits under which they can be exercised. It determines how the state will be run and managed by government, different organs and different authorities and along with that administrative law ascertain their roles, power and functions. It tends to secure the subjects of state from the arbitrary exercise of power of state.
b) Private law- this law determines the inter-relationships between individuals of the state. The term “private” here denotes individual, group of individuals or unit of state but not the whole state. The private law tries to balance or adjust the relations between individuals. Here, involvement of state is not very much. If disputes of private law, usually natural persons or artificial persons are made parties and then the state acts as arbitrator by way of court. Further classification of Private law is as follow-
i. The law of the person
ii. The law of property
iii. The law of obligation
iv. The conflict of laws.
Civil law predominantly deals with the private rights and duties of individuals. it determines certain rights of individual and also obligates them to perform certain duties and if they done something in contrary to their duties then they can face civil actions. Similarly, if private rights of an individual are infringed then civil law also provide remedies which they can seek by suing the wrongdoer. The civil wrong is committed only against the individual and not against the whole state. In fact, civil suit arises at the instance and option of aggrieved person. In a civil suit, the parties are known as plaintiff and defendant. The object of civil action is to correct the wrongdoing. A person can seek remedy in form of damages. They are based on the principles of good conscience, equity and general principles of law. Examples of civil law are law of contracts, torts, property, and family law
In a civilized society it is important to have criminal laws because It regulates the behavior of individuals and aims to prevent crimes by imposing punishment. It plays the function of social reform. It determines a person’s certain behavior or conduct as unlawful or illegal and makes its forbidden and impose punishment on person who engage in forbidden activities. This forbidden behavior or conduct is known as crime or offence and it is committed not only against an individual but against the whole state and that is why in criminal cases, state is made a party. The parties to a criminal case are known as prosecution and accused. Here, the charges are levelled against accused and if prosecution succeeds in establishing the case against accused beyond reasonable doubt, then he can either be punished in form of imprisonment or by paying fine otherwise he will be acquitted. Example of criminal law are Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act, etc.
The law which defines, determines, creates and regulate rights is known as substantive right. It can either be civil or criminal right. Substantive law, with regard to a specific subject, defines the legal rights and relationship of people between themselves or between them and the State. Substantive law refers to all forms of law both, public and private including the law of contracts, property, torts and crimes of all kinds. Example- Indian Penal Code.
The laws which tells the procedure to enforce the rights determined by substantive laws are known as procedural laws. Both substantive and procedural laws are complementary to each other because in the absence of one, the other will remain ineffective and useless. the importance of substantive law depends on the efficacy of procedural laws because rules and procedure are not simple, expensive, expeditious no matter how good substantive law be, they will remain ineffective. The procedural laws determine the procedure to be followed from the stage of filling of case to its disposal. Example- Civil Procedure Code, Criminal Procedure Code.
The laws or statutes which are enacted by legislations are statutory laws and they binding in nature.
The laws which are not made by legislature are known as non-statutory laws and they are not binding.
Author: kashish gupta,
Invertis University, 4th year