Portal:Law

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Law is a system of rules, usually enforced through a set of institutions. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a primary social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus ticket to trading on derivatives markets. Property law defines rights and obligations related to the transfer and title of personal (often referred to as chattel) and real property. Trust law applies to assets held for investment and financial security, while tort law allows claims for compensation if a person's rights or property are harmed. If the harm is criminalised in a statute, criminal law offers means by which the state can prosecute the perpetrator. Constitutional law provides a framework for the creation of law, the protection of human rights and the election of political representatives. Administrative law is used to review the decisions of government agencies, while international law governs affairs between sovereign states in activities ranging from trade to environmental regulation or military action. Writing in 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle declared: "The rule of law is better than the rule of any individual."

Legal systems elaborate rights and responsibilities in a variety of ways. A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions, which codify their laws, and common law systems, where judge made law is not consolidated. In some countries, religion informs the law. Law provides a rich source of scholarly inquiry, into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis or sociology. Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness and justice. "In its majestic equality", said the author Anatole France in 1894, "the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread." In a typical democracy, the central institutions for interpreting and creating law are the three main branches of government, namely an impartial judiciary, a democratic legislature, and an accountable executive. To implement and enforce the law and provide services to the public, a government's bureaucracy, the military and police are vital. While all these organs of the state are creatures created and bound by law, an independent legal profession and a vibrant civil society inform and support their progress. (More…)

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A painting of King Stanisław August entering St. John's Cathedral

The Constitution of May 3, 1791 was drafted between October 6, 1788, and May 3, 1791, when it was adopted as a "Government Act" by the Great Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch). The document was designed to redress political defects of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth; the system of "Golden Liberty" had conferred disproportionate rights on the nobility, and over time had corrupted politics. Its adoption was preceded by a period of agitation for, and gradual introduction of, reforms, beginning with the Convocation Sejm of 1764 and the election of Stanisław August Poniatowski as the Commonwealth's last king, and culminating in legislation adopted by the Great Sejm.

The constitution sought to supplant the prevailing anarchy, fostered by some of the country's magnates, with a more democratic constitutional monarchy. It introduced elements of political equality between townspeople and nobility and placed the peasants under the protection of the government, thus mitigating the worst abuses of serfdom. It banned pernicious parliamentary institutions such as the liberum veto, which had put the Sejm at the mercy of any single deputy who could choose, or be bribed by an interest or foreign power, to undo all the legislation that had been passed by that Sejm. (more...)

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A photograph of Moxon

Kendrick Lichty Moxon is a Scientology official and an attorney with the law firm Moxon & Kobrin. He practices in Los Angeles, California, and is a lead counsel for the Church of Scientology. Moxon's early work for the Church of Scientology involved legal affairs, and he also held the title of "reverend". He worked out of the Scientology intelligence agency known as the Guardian's Office (GO), and was named as an unindicted co-conspirator after the Federal Bureau of Investigation's investigation into criminal activities by Scientology operatives called "Operation Snow White".

The bulk of Moxon's legal work is Scientology-related. He has served as Commissioner of the Scientology-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). He represented the Church of Scientology in 1988 in a billion-dollar class action lawsuit against the organization by former Scientologists which was dismissed in Los Angeles Superior Court. In 1990 Moxon represented the organization in a suit against the Internal Revenue Service in an attempt to gain access to information about Scientology held by the IRS. He assisted 50 Scientologists in filing separate lawsuits against the organization Cult Awareness Network (CAN), which led to the bankruptcy of the organization. He represented the plaintiff in the Jason Scott case against CAN and cult deprogrammer Rick Ross. (more...)

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A seated barrister
Image by unknown photographer; uploaded by Cliniic
Jawaharlal Nehru at the Allahabad High Court

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Pepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart [1992] UKHL 3, is a landmark decision of the House of Lords on the use of legislative history in statutory interpretation. The court established the principle that when primary legislation is ambiguous then, under certain circumstances, the court may refer to statements made in the House of Commons or House of Lords in an attempt to interpret the meaning of the legislation. Before this ruling, such an action would have been seen as a breach of parliamentary privilege.

Hart and nine others were teachers at Malvern College who benefited from a scheme that allowed their children to be educated at the College for one-fifth of the normal fees of a pupil. The Inland Revenue attempted to tax this benefit based on the Finance Act 1976. There was a dispute over exactly what the Act meant, which could be resolved with the use of Hansard, something not allowed at the time. The Special Commissioners charged with assessing the tax found in favour of Hart, however both the High Court of Justice and Court of Appeal of England and Wales found in favour of the Inland Revenue. The case then went to the House of Lords, which found in favour of Hart and allowed the use of Hansard. (more...)

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A Lithuanian page signed by twenty people

The Act of Independence of Lithuania was signed by the Council of Lithuania on February 16, 1918, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania, governed by democratic principles, with Vilnius as its capital. The Act was signed by all twenty representatives, chaired by Jonas Basanavičius.

After the Germans, who were in control of Lithuania, lost World War I in the fall of 1918, the first Cabinet of Lithuania was formed, and the Council of Lithuania gained control over the territory of Lithuania using the Act. Independent Lithuania, although it would soon be battling the Wars of Independence, became a reality.

The laconic Act is the legal basis for the existence of modern Lithuania, both during the interwar period and since 1990. The Act formulated the basic constitutional principles that were and still are followed by all Constitutions of Lithuania. The Act itself was a key element in the foundation of Lithuania's re-establishment of independence in 1990, being used as evidence that Lithuania was simply re-establishing the independent state that existed between the world wars. (more...)

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