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Sources of Law

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UoC July 27, 2020

Structure of the State

A “state” refers to a sovereign country. Each country is governed in its own unique way but most states around the world have a common understanding of the structure of the states power which is generally divided into 3 parts namely the legislature, executive and judiciary.


The legislature is the limb of state responsible for creating the laws. It is usually made up of 2 houses, one which is usually elected by the population and the other usually a combination of elected and appointed. Each house has its own function in proposing and debating laws. When the law is finally passed it is known as “legislation”.


The executive is the limb of state that implements the laws by governing the state. We refer to them as the “government”. They have the function of running the affairs of the country such as managing the finances, general economy and welfare of the citizens of the state.


The judiciary is the limb of state that interprets and enforces the law. It is made up of judges and courts. Their function is to determine disputes by applying the law and declaring a “judgment” which is an official pronouncement that can at times be powerful enough to bind the Executive limb and in rare circumstances even the Legislature.  

Sources of law

In each country it is important to know where the law comes from. It is always the case that it can come from several sources. 


The constitution is a document that contains the fundamental principles of the state and is the highest law of the land. 


Legislation is law that is enacted by the legislature. It is second only to the constitution.

Common Law

Common Law is law that is created by judges. It is considered as a binding law and operates on the principle of judicial precedent.

Areas of Law

The law has found its natural separation into unique areas over time. Generally, there are two main branches namely civil law and criminal law. Within these two branches are multiple smaller categories of law Here are some of more common ones:

ContractDrug offences
TortSexual offices
ShippingViolent offences
EmploymentWhite collar financial offences
BankruptcyFatal offences
TaxParticipatory offences
Personal injuryPublic disorder