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Roles and Functions of Law

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Laws hold a very important role in the functionality of business and society. Laws help to control and regulate social behavior and create a successful and functional society. Laws generate social expectations and standards, along with rules of conduct and ways to enforce those rules. Some functions of law include: checking government power and promoting individual freedom; facilitating planning and the realization of reasonable expectations; peace keeping, promoting economic growth through free competition; promoting social justice; and protecting the environment (Mallor, Barnes, Bowers, and Langyardt).Without laws to regulate social behavior and the actions of individuals and businesses, society would not function properly and commerce would fall apart. The complex legal system in the United States has laws that are broken down into types; constitutions, statutes, common law, administrative regulations and decisions, treaties, ordinance, and executive orders.


Constitution creates fundamental principles of a government at a federal or state level and is the overriding law. Constitutions ensure that there is a separation of power among branches. A constitution is a written document that contains the rules that create what an entity is. Constitutions prevent other governments from passing laws that limit individual rights, list the powers each branch of government has over one another.

Statutes and Common Law

A statue is formal written enactment by a delegated legislative representative that governs a county, city or state (Melvin, 2011). Common law is based on prior court decisions of similar circumstances. Common law is created by judges under the principle that it is unfair to prosecute similar facts differently on different occasions. Common law based off prior court decisions is called precedents, and are flexible and evolve over time.

Treaties, Ordinances, and Executive Orders

Contracts between states or countries are known as Treaties. Ordinances are laws created by countries and municipalities. Executive orders help agencies of the executive branch to manager the operations in the federal government. By legislative delegation executive orders are granted power.

Law Classifications

Along with different types of law, laws are also generalized into three classifications: criminal law and civil law, substantive law and procedural law, and public law and private law.

Criminal law is focused on the punishment for committing crimes. The government prosecutes any individual or entities who commit a crime under the criminal law. Punishments for committing crimes range from incarceration to fines.

Civil Law refers to the responsibilities that individuals, organizations,



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