WHAT IS PUBLIC LAW?
Public law refers to the relations between individuals from the public and the government. Within the UK alone, public law is made up of constitutional/administrative law, tax law and criminal law.
E.g. “a body governed by public law”
WHY IS PUBLIC LAW IMPORTANT?
The government is the only body that can make official decisions on the rights of individuals and they must act within the law. This is why it is so important as unequal relationships between the government and the public can hinder on those decisions made and create controversy. A citizen can ask for a judicial review if they are unhappy with a decision of an authoritative body and they still have the right to suggest why they disagree with a certain decision that has been made.
WHAT DOES PUBLIC LAW INVOLVE?
Lawyers who deal with public law can specialise in various areas. These areas include constitutional/administrative law, tax law and criminal law. These areas of law are slightly different and vary from each other in many ways. For example, if one worked in constitutional/admin law, you could potentially be working alongside the NHS, local council or other governmental bodies.
Criminal lawyers work within all aspects of a case including investigation, liaising with police authorities and appeals. There is usually a tonne of paperwork involved with criminal law, which is what the lawyers are there to deal with.
BREAK THIS DOWN FOR ME A LITTLE BIT!
There are many theories as to why public law and private law differentiate. The subjection theory suggests that public law governs the relationship between the person and the state and private law governs relationships of individuals. The subject theory, however, suggests that if a person finds themselves in membership of a public body, public law then applies.
Combining these two theories, public law is defined as a field where an actor is an authority with the power to act solo. If this authority is acting as a public entity, public law applies.
It can sometimes be seen as broad as some areas of law do not seem to fit into either public or private law. For example, employment law seems to fall into both – the employment contract is a private law matter, whereas ‘health and safety within the workplace’ is a public law issue.
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