There are distinguished methods of legal reasoning and methods of interpreting the law. The former are legal syllogism, which holds sway in civil law legal systems, analogy, which is present in common law legal systems, especially in the US, and argumentative theories that occur in both systems. The latter are different rules of legal interpretation such as directives of linguistic interpretation, teleological interpretation or systemic interpretation as well as more specific rules, for instance, golden rule or mischief rule. There are also many other arguments and cannons of interpretation which altogether make statutory interpretation possible. Investigating, apprehending, charging, and trying suspected offenders is regulated by the law of criminal procedure.
This “great charter” or Magna Carta of 1215 also required that the King’s entourage of judges hold their courts and judgments at “a certain place” rather than dispensing autocratic justice in unpredictable places about the country. A concentrated and elite group of judges acquired a dominant role in law-making under this system, and compared to its European counterparts the English judiciary became highly centralised. In 1297, for instance, while the highest court in France had fifty-one judges, the English Court of Common Pleas had five. This powerful and tight-knit judiciary gave rise to a systematised process of developing common law.
Strict duties for trustees made their way into company law and were applied to directors and chief executive officers. Another example of a trustee’s duty might be to invest property wisely or sell it. This is especially the case for pension funds, the most important form of trust, where investors are trustees for people’s savings until retirement. But trusts can also be set up for charitable purposes, famous examples being the British Museum or the Rockefeller Foundation.
Freedom of speech, freedom of association and many other individual rights allow people to gather, discuss, criticise and hold to account their governments, from which the basis of a deliberative democracy is formed. The more people are involved with, concerned by and capable of changing how political power is exercised over their lives, the more acceptable and legitimate the law becomes to the people. The most familiar institutions of civil society include economic markets, profit-oriented firms, families, trade unions, hospitals, universities, schools, charities, debating clubs, non-governmental organisations, neighbourhoods, churches, and religious associations. There is no clear legal definition of the civil society, and of the institutions it includes.
This became the basis for the four principles of negligence, namely that Stevenson owed Donoghue a duty of care to provide safe drinks; he breached his duty of care; the harm would not have occurred but for his breach; and his act was the proximate cause of her harm. Another example of tort might be a neighbour making excessively loud noises with machinery on his property. Torts can also involve intentional acts such as assault, battery or trespass.
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. Due to rapid industrialisation, today China is undergoing a process of reform, at least in terms of economic, if not social and political, rights.
In the 19th century in England, and in 1937 in the U.S., the two systems were merged. The third type of legal system—accepted by some countries without separation of church and state—is religious law, based on scriptures. The specific system that a country is ruled by is often determined by its history, connections with other countries, or its adherence to international standards. The sources that jurisdictions adopt as authoritatively binding are the defining features of any legal system.
This contains the basic code of Jewish law, which some Israeli communities choose to use. The Halakha is a code of Jewish law that summarizes some of the Talmud’s interpretations. Nevertheless, Israeli law allows litigants to use religious laws only if they choose.
Intellectual property Law aims at safeguarding creators and other producers of intellectual goods and services. These are legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, literary and artistic fields. The law of agency, insurance law, bills of exchange, insolvency and bankruptcy law and sales law are all important, and trace back to the medieval Lex Mercatoria. The UK Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the US Uniform Commercial Code are examples of codified common law commercial principles. Consideration indicates the fact that all parties to a contract have exchanged something of value.
Yet classification is a matter of form rather than substance since similar rules often prevail. Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, was based on the concept of Ma’at and characterised by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality. By the 22nd century BC, the ancient Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu had formulated the first law code, which consisted of casuistic statements (“if … then …”).