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Introduction

Iustitia ("Lady Justice") is a symbolic personification of the coercive power of a tribunal: a sword representing state authority, scales representing an objective standard, and a blindfold indicating that justice should be impartial.

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

A general distinction can be made between (a) civil law jurisdictions, in which a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and (b) common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law. Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, and is still used in some religious communities. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law, and is used as the primary legal system in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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A modern photograph of the front of a booklet

The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus is the ultimate law of Belarus; it states that all laws that conflict with it are null and void. Adopted in 1994, three years after the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union, this formal document establishes the framework of the Belarusian state and government and enumerates the rights and freedoms of its citizens. The Constitution was drafted by the Supreme Soviet of Belarus, the former legislative body of the country, and was improved by citizens and legal experts. The contents of the Constitution include the preamble, nine sections, and 146 articles. The structure and substance of the Constitution were heavily influenced by constitutions of Western powers and by Belarus' experiences during the Soviet era. While much of the Constitution establishes the government's functions and powers, an entire section details rights and freedoms granted to citizens and residents. The Constitution has been amended twice since the original adoption, in 1996 and in 2004. Two referendums that were disputed by independent observers and government opposition leaders increased the power of the presidency over the government and eliminated the term limits for the presidency. (more...)

Selected biography

Alfred Denning, Baron Denning (1899–1999) was a British soldier, mathematician, lawyer and judge. He studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, although his studies were disrupted by his service in the First World War. He then began his legal career, distinguishing himself as a barrister and becoming a King's Counsel in 1938. He became a judge in 1944 with an appointment to the Family Division of the High Court of Justice and was made a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1948 after fewer than five years in the High Court. He became a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1957 and after five years in the House of Lords returned to the Court of Appeal as Master of the Rolls in 1962, a position he held for twenty years. One of the most publicly known judges thanks to his report on the Profumo Affair, Lord Denning was held in high regard by much of the judiciary, the Bar and the public. In retirement he wrote several books and continued to offer opinions on the state of the common law through his writing and his position in the House of Lords. During his 38 year career as a judge he made large changes to the common law, particularly while in the Court of Appeal. (more...)

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Selected case

A modern photograph to the entrance to Jin Long Si Temple

Eng Foong Ho v. Attorney-General is the name of two cases of the Singapore courts, a High Court decision delivered in 2008 and the 2009 judgment by the Court of Appeal. The main issue raised by the case was whether the Collector of Land Revenue had treated the plaintiffs (later appellants), who were devotees of the Jin Long Si Temple, unequally by compulsorily acquiring for public purposes the land on which the temple stood but not the lands of a Hindu mission and a Christian church nearby. It was alleged that the authorities had acted in violation of Article 12(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, which guarantees the rights to equality before the law and equal protection of the law.

The High Court held that the plaintiffs lacked locus standi to bring the action as they were not the temple's legal owners. In any case, as there was evidence that the authorities had rational reasons for treating the temple property differently from the property of the Mission and the Church, the High Court found that there had been no breach of Article 12(1). Furthermore, the Court determined that the plaintiffs were guilty of inordinate delay in bringing the action. (more...)

Selected statute

The illustration depicts Edward II, seated on a throne and with a sceptre in his left hand, receiving his crown. His left hand is raised to the crown already on his head.

The Ordinances of 1311 were a series of regulations imposed upon King Edward II by the peerage and clergy of the Kingdom of England to restrict the power of the king. The twenty-one signatories of the Ordinances are referred to as the Lords Ordainers, or simply the Ordainers. English setbacks in the Scottish war, combined with perceived extortionate royal fiscal policies, set the background for the writing of the Ordinances in which the administrative prerogatives of the king were largely appropriated by a baronial council. The Ordinances reflect the Provisions of Oxford and the Provisions of Westminster from the late 1250s, but unlike the Provisions, the Ordinances featured a new concern with fiscal reform, specifically redirecting revenues from the king's household to the exchequer.

Just as instrumental to their conception were other issues, particularly discontent with the king's favourite, Piers Gaveston, whom the barons subsequently banished from the realm. Edward II accepted the Ordinances only under coercion, and a long struggle for their repeal ensued that did not end until Thomas of Lancaster – the leader of the Ordainers – was executed in 1322. (more...)

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