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TOPIC 2

2007, Goldon Book Centre Sdn Bhd, Questions & Answers on Malaysian Courts, Statutes, Cases & Contract, Tort and Criminal Law , by Nuraisyah Chua Abdullah. Reconstructed by NOOR MAIZUDIN BIN MOHAMAD NOOR, Faculty of Business Administration, UMTECH, 2012.

Classification of Law

Law has been classified into many categories. One of the more commonly adopted ways is to classify law into four broad divisions, namely, public law and private law, national and international law (public and private international law), substantive and procedural law and civil and criminal law.

Classification of Law
Public Law

Public law is basically the law, which governs the relationship between individuals and the State. Public law may be further subdivided into constitutional law, administrative law and criminal law. Constitutional law lays down the rights of individuals in the State. It deals with questions such as supremacy of Parliament and rights of citizens.

Classification of Law
Public Law

Administrative law lays down the powers and duties of local authorities and provides the rules of accountability of public officials. The two parties involved in administrative law are the citizens (individuals) and the State.

Classification of Law
Public Law

Criminal law codifies the various offences committed by individuals as against the State. It aims at punishing criminals and suppressing crime. Thus, criminal law imposes on individuals the obligation not to commit crimes. A crime is a wrong against the State for which punishment is inflicted by the state, with the proceedings being brought by the Public Prosecutor.

Classification of Law
Private Law

Private law is concerned with matters that affect the rights and duties of individuals amongst themselves. There are only two disputing parties involved and those parties concerned have the right of action in court. For example, a seller of a land breaches the contract of sale and purchase with the purchaser of the land or a customer who slipped and fell in the hotel owing to the slippery floor, and sues the hotel for negligent. Basically, private or civil law is intended to give compensation to persons injured, to enable property to be recovered from wrongdoers, and to enforce obligation (contracts and trusts).

Classification of Law
National Law

It is also known as municipal law, i.e. the law operative within a particular state. All laws passed and practised in Malaysia are national laws (i.e. domestic, municipal/local law). For example, the law concerning contracts in Malaysia is governed under the Contracts Act 1950 and the provisions of criminal law in Malaysia are found in the Penal Code. National law governs the relationship between the citizens in a country.

Classification of Law
International Law

International law may be defined as that body of law which is composed for its greater part of the principles, and rules of conduct which States feel themselves bound to observe in their relations with each other. It may be subdivided into two categories public international law and private international law. It deals with the external relationships of a state with other states.

Classification of Law
Public International Law

The law that prevails between the States is made up from customs, practice of nations towards one another, over a very long time and laws from treaties, conventions, etc. Public international law matters today are dealt with in the International Court of Justice at the Hague, Holland. Examples of disputes, which are dealt under international law are the dispute revolving Sipadan and Ligitan Islands in Sabah, the dispute on Batu Putih Island and the international war tribunal where Serb army officers are being tried for the atrocities in Bosnia.

Classification of Law
Private International Law

Private international law or conflict of laws as it is often called is a part of municipal law, as a result of which in every country, there will be a different version of it. It consists of the rules that guide a judge when the laws of more than one country affect a case. Private international law can be seen in the area of personal law, i.e. in family law matters, for example, parents of different nationalities claiming the custody of their children, and in trade disputes concerning international contracts in carriage of goods.

Classification of Law
Substantive Law

Substantive law concerns the rights, duties, liberties and powers of individuals. It comprises the legal rules and principles which guide the courts in decision-making. Under the Contracts Act 1950, contracts are voidable at the option of the party whose consent was so caused under section 19(1) if the contracts were entered due to coercion, undue influence, fraud or misrepresentation.

Classification of Law
Procedural Law

Procedural law concerns the procedures and evidence in the enforcement of rights and duties. The Criminal Procedure Code lays down the procedures to bring an accused person to the court and the conviction procedures. On the other hand, the Civil Procedure Code outlines the procedures in a civil claim.

Classification of Law
Criminal Law

A crime is a wrong against the State. The Public Prosecutor prosecutes the accused person. The burden lies on the Public Prosecutor to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an accused person has committed the offence charged. The function of criminal law is to punish the offender by way of imprisonment, fine and/or caning.

Classification of Law
Civil Law

It concerns disputes between individuals and individuals. In civil law, the plaintiff sues the defendant and the burden lies on the plaintiff to prove on the balance of probabilities that the defendant has committed the wrongful act. The function of civil law is to provide remedies to the aggrieved party, in the form of damages, specific performances, injunction, etc.

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