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Broad classification of law.


Broadly speaking there are two main kinds of Law:

  • National Law i.e. the body of rules which regulates the actions of the people in society and it is backed by the coercive power of the State.

  • International Law i.e. the body of rules which guides and directs the behaviour of the states in international relations. It is backed by their willingness and consent that the states obey rules of International Law. It is a law among nations and is not backed by any coercive power.

National Law

It is the law by which the people are governed by the state. It stands classified into several kinds:

  1. Constitutional Law: Constitutional Law is the supreme law of the country. It stands written in the Constitution of the State. The Constitutional Law lays down the organisation, powers, functions and inter-relationship of the three organs of government. It also lays down the relationship between the people and the government as well as the rights, freedoms (fundamental rights) and duties of the citizens. It can be called the Law of the laws in the sense all law-making in the State is done on the basis of powers granted by the Constitutional Law i.e. the Constitution.

  2. Statute Law or Ordinary Law: It is also called the national law or the municipal law. It is made by the government (legislature) and it determines and regulates the conduct and behaviour of the people. It lays down the relations among the people and their associations, organisations, groups and institutions. The legislature makes laws, the executive implements these and judiciary interprets and applies these to specific cases.

Ordinary Law is classified into two parts:

  1. Private Law: Private Law regulates the relations among individuals. It lays down rules regarding the conduct of the individual in society and his relations with other persons. It guarantees the enjoyment of his rights. It is through this law that the State acts as the arbiter of disputes between any two individuals or their groups.

  2. Public Law: The law which regulates the relations between the individual and the State is Public Law. It is made and enforced by the State on behalf of the community.

Clarifying the distinction between Public law and Private law, Holland writes: “In Private Law the parties concerned are private individuals alone and between whom stands the State as an impartial arbiter. In Public Law also the State is present as an arbiter although it is at the same time one of the parties interested.”


Public Law stands sub divided into two categories:

  • General Law: It lays down the relations between the private citizens (Non-officials or who are not members of the civil service) and the State. General Public Law applies to all the citizens in their relations with the State.

  • Administrative Law: It lays down the rules governing the exercise of the constitutional authority which stands delegated by the Constitution of the State to all the organs of government. It also governs the relations between the civil servants and the public and lays down the relations between the civil servants and the State. In some States like France, Administrative Law is administered by Administrative Courts and General Law is administered by ordinary courts. However in countries like India, Britain and the USA the same courts administer both the General Law and Administrative Law.



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