Public law | areas of public law

Areas of public law

Constitutional law

In modern states, constitutional law lays out the foundations of the state. Above all, it postulates the supremacy of law in the functioning of the state – the rule of law.

Secondly, it sets out the form of government – how its different branches work, how they are elected or appointed, and the division of powers and responsibilities between them. Traditionally, the basic elements of government are the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

And thirdly, in describing what are the basic human rights, which must be protected for every person, and what further civil and political rights citizens have, it sets the fundamental borders to what any government must and must not do.

In most jurisdictions, constitutional law is enshrined in a written document, the Constitution, sometimes together with amendments or other constitutional laws. In some countries, however, such a supreme entrenched written document does not exist for historical and political reasons – the Constitution of the United Kingdom is an unwritten one.

Administrative law

Administrative law refers to the body of law which regulates bureaucratic managerial procedures and defines the powers of administrative agencies. These laws are enforced by the executive branch of a government rather than the judicial or legislative branches (if they are different in that particular jurisdiction). This body of law regulates international trade, manufacturing, pollution, taxation, and the like. This is sometimes seen as a subcategory of civil law and sometimes seen as public law as it deals with regulation and public institutions

Criminal law

Criminal law involves the state imposing sanctions for defined crimes committed by individuals or businesses, so that society can achieve its brand of justice and a peaceable social order.

Tax law