Rule of Law

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law-encyclopediaRule of law is a term that is often used but not often understood.

In the most simple terms, rule of law is a principle that it is law, rather than decisions of one person or a group of persons, the government, that should rule the nation.

This principle goes back as a far as the times when many believed that the monarch derived his devine right to rule through God.

Rule of law also means that every person is subject the rules no matter whether they are an ordinary citizen or a part of the legislature.

Modern rule of law theory derives from the British constitutional theorist A.V.Dicey. Dicey studied at Oxford and was called to the Bar at Inner Temple.

Dicey argued that for rule of law to be unpheld in Britain, the British parliament must have absolute parliamentary soveriengty with the power to make or unmake any law. He also argued that the British courts should be free from political intervention. Dicey’s most renowned books are ‘Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution’ and ‘Conflict of Laws’.

The United Nations have defined the Rule of Law as:

It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.

The International Development Organisation has described rule of law as an ‘enabler’ or justice.

Quite simply, rule of law ensures that every person is treated the same before the law and that their is a legitemate legal system in place. Without rule of law there can be no justice, transparency or legitemacy of law.

Jurisprudence

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aristotleJurisprudence is a key part of the study of law, although it is a word that may be completely foreign to someone who is not a student or practioner of law.

In simple terms, jurisprudence is the philosophy of law. Jurisprudence goes beyond what is often called the ‘black letter of the law’ and analyses the morality, thought and principals behind the law. Jurisprudence considers various legal ideas and analyses the practices of different legal systems throughout the world.

Jurisprudence as an area of study dates back as far as Aristotle and Thomas Acquinas.

Thomas Hobbes’ seminal text Leviathan is a fundemental part of jurisprudence. Hobbes argued that before the advent of society and the state, man was in a state of nature. This state of nature was brutal and life was miserable and cold. In the state of nature, one could be killed by another at any moment in the fight for resources.

Hobbes argued that man exchanged this life for a much more comfortable and safer one within society. The power to kill was transfered to the state, the all powerful Leviathan figure. The absolute obeyance of this authority figure was key to the organised and civilised nature of the state. The law had to be obeyed in exchange for the natsy and brutal life man endured in the state of nature.

A further key name within jurisprudence is John Stuart Mill. Mill wrote a seminal text on utilitarianism which argued that society should do whatever is best for the maximum number of people within society. This was a key idea within 19th century Victorian thinking and jurisprudence.

 

International Law

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United-NationsWelcome to the first of our blogs bringing you an explanation of legal terms and legal terminology.

In our first post we will be discussing international law. International law is broad term for different legal institutions and pieces of legislation that operate on an internation scale and apply to more than one country.

The government of a country is responsible for upholding the rule of law and bring in new legislation on a domestic level. International law operates on a multinational level above this and will be enforced in many countries.

The main international organisations are:

The European Union – this is a union of 28 states. The institutions of the European Union will pass laws that must be applied in the member states. These laws vary from trade laws to fisheries policy. The majority of the EU member states are also a member of the Euro monetary union.

United Nations Security Council – this is one of the main institutions of the United Nations. The United Nations Security Council has an important role in international diplomacy and conflict avoidance. The Council has over 100,000 peacekeeping soldiers deployed on missions.

International Court of Justice – this court is based in The Hague and is composed of 15 judges drawn from various legal systems.

European Court of Justice – this is the highest court within the European Union and the court hears many different types of cases. Due to the multi-national nature of the court, the working langauge of the court is French although other official member state languages may be used.

Welcome to IVR Encyclopedia

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Welcome to the IVR Encyclopedia of Jurisprudence, Legal Theory and Philosophy of Law. Law effects everyone’s lives but it can be difficult to understand due to the legal terminology that is used. Some terms are in latin and many terms are never used in everyday conversation.

We will be bringing you helpful explanations of common legal terms.

We hope that this will be a useful resource for law students, practioners and people outside of the legal sector.