Classification of Law : A Comprehensive Guide

Classification of Law :  A Comprehensive Guide


International law has been further classified as follows:

» Public International Law

It is body of rules which govern the conduct and relations of states with each other. The law of nations of the 18th century was named as International law by Bentham in 1780. It consists of rules which regulate relations between states inter se. Oppenheim defined International law as the body of customary and conventional rules which are considered legally binding by civilized states in intercourse with each other, e.g. Law of sea.

The portion of International Law (Law of nations) which regulates the practices of capture of ships and cargo in war-time as applied by courts is called Prize Law. Such courts were established after the end of Indo-Pak war of 1971 to settle disposal of goods seized from ships or cargos which were captured during the war-time.


» Private International Law

Private international law is that part of law of the State, which deals with cases having a foreign element. Private international law relates to the rights of private citizens of different countries. Marriages and adoption of individuals belonging to different nations fall within its domain. For example if a contract is made between an Indian and a Pakistani and it is performed in Ceylon, the rules and principles on which rights and liabilities of the parties would be determined would be called ‘Private International Law’. It Applies to individuals and not to states. It is enforced by municipal courts which administer Municipal law and not International Law.

classification of law



Municipal laws are basically domestic or national laws. They regulate the relationship between the State and its citizen and determines the relationship among citizens. Municipal law can be further classified into two segments:


» Public Law

Public law chiefly regulates the relationship between the State and its subjects. It also provides the structure and functioning of the organs of States. It determines and regulates the organization and functioning of the State and determines the relation of the State and determines the relation of the state with its subjects. It may be divided into three important branches.

a) Constitutional Law:
Constitutional law is considered to be the basic as well as the supreme law of the country. The nature of any State is basically determined by its Constitution. It also provides the structure of the government. All the organs of states derive their powers from the Constitution. Some countries, such as India, have a written Constitution, while countries such as the United Kingdom have an uncodified Constitution. In India, the fundamental rights are granted and protected under the Constitution.


b) Administrative Law:
Administrative law mainly deals with the powers and functions of administrative authorities - government departments, authorities, bodies etc. It deals with structure, powers and functions of organs of administration, the limits of their powers; the methods by which their powers are controlled including the legal remedies available to a person against them when his rights are infringed by their operation. It describes in detail the manner in which the government shall exercise those powers that were outlined in the constitutional law. In France, this is called droid administrative.


c) Criminal Law:
Criminal law generally deals with acts which are prohibited by law and defines the prohibited act as an offence. It also prescribes punishments for criminal offences. Criminal law is very important for maintaining order in the society, and for maintaining peace. It is considered a part of public law, as crime is not only against the individual but against the whole society. Indian Penal Code, 1860 (also known as IPC) is an example of a criminal law legislation, in which different kinds of offences are defined and punishments prescribed.


» Private Law

This branch of law defines, regulates, governs and enforces relationships between individuals and associations and corporations. In other words, this branch of law deals with the definition, regulation and enforcement of mutual rights and duties of individuals. The state intervenes through its judicial organs (e.g. courts) to settle the dispute between the parties. Private or Civil law confers civil rights which are administered and adjudicated by civil courts. Much of the life of a society is regulated by this set of private laws or civil rights. This branch of law can be further classified into the following:

a) Personal Law:
It is a branch of law related to marriage, divorce and succession (inheritance). These laws are based on religion, ritual and customs of marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In such matters, people are mostly governed by the Personal laws laid down by their religions. For example, the marriage of Hindus is governed by Personal laws like the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 while Muslim marriages are governed by the Muslim personal law

b) Property Law:
This branch of law deals with the ownership of immovable and movable properties. For example, the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, deals with transfer of immovable property, whereas the Sales of Goods Act, 1930, deals with movable property.


c) Law of Contracts:
This branch of the law pertains to an area where a person is required to do something because of his promise, contract or law. According to the Indian Contract Act, 1872, a contract is an agreement which is enforceable by law.


d) Law of Torts:
This branch of law creates and provides remedies for civil wrongs that do not arise out of contractual duties.


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