University of Michigan Law School

Prominent examples of legislatures are the Houses of Parliament in London, the Congress in Washington, D.C., the Bundestag in Berlin, the Duma in Moscow, the Parlamento Italiano in Rome and the Assemblée nationale in Paris. By the principle of representative government people vote for politicians to carry out their wishes. Although countries like Israel, Greece, Sweden and China are unicameral, most countries are bicameral, meaning they have two separately appointed legislative houses. In developing the common law, academic writings have always played an important part, both to collect overarching principles from dispersed case law, and to argue for change. William Blackstone, from around 1760, was the first scholar to collect, describe, and teach the common law.

Roman Law News was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, but its detailed rules were developed by professional jurists and were highly sophisticated. In medieval England, royal courts developed a body of precedent which later became the common law. A Europe-wide Law Merchant was formed so that merchants could trade with common standards of practice rather than with the many splintered facets of local laws. The Law Merchant, a precursor to modern commercial law, emphasised the freedom to contract and alienability of property.

  • In common law systems, judges may make binding case law through precedent, although on occasion this may be overturned by a higher court or the legislature.
  • A diverse program of human rights activities that serve students and scholars at Yale and contribute to the development of human rights.
  • Until the 18th century, Sharia law was practiced throughout the Muslim world in a non-codified form, with the Ottoman Empire’s Mecelle code in the 19th century being a first attempt at codifying elements of Sharia law.
  • In civil law the sources recognised as authoritative are, primarily, legislation—especially codifications in constitutions or statutes passed by government—and custom.
  • Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology.

Law professor and former United States Attorney General Edward H. Levi noted that the “basic pattern of legal reasoning is reasoning by example”—that is, reasoning by comparing outcomes in cases resolving similar legal questions. Supreme Court case regarding procedural efforts taken by a debt collection company to avoid errors, Justice Sotomayor cautioned that “legal reasoning is not a mechanical or strictly linear process”.

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According to Malloy , Smith established “a classical liberal philosophy that made individuals the key referential sign while acknowledging that we live not alone but in community with others”. Richard Posner, University of Chicago Law School professor and the most cited legal scholar, until 2014 ran a blog with Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker. Competition law, known in the United States as antitrust law, is an evolving field that traces as far back as Roman decrees against price fixing and the English restraint of trade doctrine. Modern competition law derives from the U.S. anti-cartel and anti-monopoly statutes of the turn of the 20th century.

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A government usually leads the process, which can be formed from Members of Parliament (e.g. the UK or Germany). However, in a presidential system, the government is usually formed by an executive and his or her appointed cabinet officials (e.g. the United States or Brazil). A judiciary is theoretically bound by the constitution, just as all other government bodies are. In most countries judges may only interpret the constitution and all other laws. But in common law countries, where matters are not constitutional, the judiciary may also create law under the doctrine of precedent. The UK, Finland and New Zealand assert the ideal of parliamentary sovereignty, whereby the unelected judiciary may not overturn law passed by a democratic legislature.

Students pursuing Master in Law and LLM degrees enrich and diversify our course discussions, contributing to the Law School’s overarching mission to provide the finest and most comprehensive legal education for all students. The most prominent economic analyst of law is 1991 Nobel Prize winner Ronald Coase, whose first major article, The Nature of the Firm , argued that the reason for the existence of firms (companies, partnerships, etc.) is the existence of transaction costs. Rational individuals trade through bilateral contracts on open markets until the costs of transactions mean that using corporations to produce things is more cost-effective. His second major article, The Problem of Social Cost , argued that if we lived in a world without transaction costs, people would bargain with one another to create the same allocation of resources, regardless of the way a court might rule in property disputes. Coase used the example of a nuisance case named Sturges v Bridgman, where a noisy sweetmaker and a quiet doctor were neighbours and went to court to see who should have to move. So the law ought to pre-empt what would happen, and be guided by the most efficient solution.

The “doctrine of precedent”, or stare decisis (Latin for “to stand by decisions”) means that decisions by higher courts bind lower courts, and future decisions of the same court, to assure that similar cases reach similar results. This case is used to support the view of property in common law jurisdictions, that the person who can show the best claim to a piece of property, against any contesting party, is the owner. By contrast, the classic civil law approach to property, propounded by Friedrich Carl von Savigny, is that it is a right good against the world. Obligations, like contracts and torts, are conceptualised as rights good between individuals. The idea of property raises many further philosophical and political issues.

Since the mid-1940s, efforts have been made, in country after country, to bring Sharia law more into line with modern conditions and conceptions. In modern times, the legal systems of many Muslim countries draw upon both civil and common law traditions as well as Islamic law and custom. The constitutions of certain Muslim states, such as Egypt and Afghanistan, recognise Islam as the religion of the state, obliging legislature to adhere to Sharia. Saudi Arabia recognises Quran as its constitution, and is governed on the basis of Islamic law.