Portal:Law

Introduction

Iustitia ("Lady Justice") is a symbolic personification of the coercive power of a tribunal: a sword representing state authority, scales representing an objective standard, and a blindfold indicating that justice should be impartial.

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

A general distinction can be made between (a) civil law jurisdictions, in which a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and (b) common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law. Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, and is still used in some religious communities. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law, and is used as the primary legal system in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Selected article

Targeted Killing in International Law is a book about the legality of targeted killing, written by Nils Melzer. It was first published by Oxford University Press in May 2008. The book delves into the history surrounding use of targeted killing as a government strategy by multiple countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Switzerland, and Germany; both for military and law enforcement purposes. Melzer argues that directly after the September 11 attacks in the United States, perceptions regarding the use of the tactic of targeted killing shifted to become more supportive. The book received a favorable reception, and was a joint-winner of the 2009 Paul Guggenheim Prize in International Law given by the Geneva Graduate Institute. It garnered positive reviews in publications including the International Criminal Justice Review, the European Journal of International Law, and the American Journal of International Law. (more...)

Selected biography

Claud Schuster, 1st Baron Schuster, GCB, CVO, KC (22 August 1869 – 28 June 1956) was a British barrister and civil servant noted for his long tenure as Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor's Office. Schuster studied history at New College, Oxford, after which he joined the Inner Temple with the aim of becoming a barrister; he was called to the Bar in 1895. Practising in Liverpool, Schuster was not noted as a particularly successful barrister, and he joined Her Majesty's Civil Service in 1899 as secretary to the Chief Commissioner of the Local Government Act Commission.

After serving as secretary to several more commissions, he was made Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor's Office in 1915. Schuster served in this position for 29 years under ten different Lord Chancellors, and became "one of the most influential Permanent Secretaries of the 20th century". His influence led to criticism and suspicions that he was a "power behind the throne", which culminated in a verbal attack by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Hewart in 1934 during a session of the House of Lords. Schuster retired in 1944 and was made Baron Schuster. Despite being officially retired he continued to work in government circles, such as with the Allied Commission for Austria and by using his seat in the House of Lords as a way to directly criticise legislation. (more...)

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Selected case

A painting of some rocks in the middle of the sea

The Pedra Branca dispute was a territorial dispute between Singapore and Malaysia over several islets at the eastern entrance to the Singapore Strait, namely Pedra Branca (previously called Pulau Batu Puteh and now Batu Puteh by Malaysia), Middle Rocks and South Ledge. The dispute began in 1979 and was largely resolved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2008, which opined that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore and Middle Rocks belonged to Malaysia.

In early 1980, Singapore lodged a formal protest with Malaysia in response to a map published by Malaysia in 1979 claiming Pedra Branca. In 1989 Singapore proposed submitting the dispute to the ICJ. Malaysia agreed to this in 1994. In 1993, Singapore also claimed the nearby islets Middle Rocks and South Ledge. In 1998 the two countries agreed on the text of a Special Agreement that was needed to submit the dispute to the ICJ. The Special Agreement was signed in February 2003, and the ICJ formally notified of the Agreement in July that year. The hearing before the ICJ was held over three weeks in November 2007 under the name Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia v. Singapore). (more...)

Selected statute

A black and white photograph of Clement Attlee

The Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 are two Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Parliament Act 1911 asserted the supremacy of the House of Commons by limiting the legislation-blocking powers of the House of Lords. Provided the provisions of the Act are met, legislation can be passed without the approval of the House of Lords. The 1911 Act also amended the Septennial Act to reduce the maximum life of a Parliament from seven years to five. The first Parliament Act was amended by the Parliament Act 1949, passed when Clement Attlee (pictured) was Prime Minister. This further limited the power of the Lords by reducing the time that they could delay bills, from two years to one. The Parliament Acts (which are still in force) have been used to pass legislation against the wishes of the House of Lords on only seven occasions since 1911, including the passing of the Parliament Act 1949. Some constitutional lawyers had questioned the validity of the 1949 Act; these doubts were settled in 2005 when an unusually large panel of nine Law Lords ruled against a challenge by the Countryside Alliance to the validity of the Hunting Act 2004, which had been passed under the auspices of the Act. (more...)

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