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Unit 1

THE LAW AND LEGAL SYSTEMS

Text 1 What is law?

Why do we have laws and legal systems? One answer is very simple: laws are rules which govern behaviour between people. Many organisations use rules to govern behaviour between people. Families often have rules about keeping one’s bedroom tidy or not staying out late. Schools normally have rules about doing homework and not running in corridors. So, rules are an almost inevitable part of any organised social interaction.

Primitive societies have relatively few formal rules, and such rules often come from other moral codes such as religion. So, a prohibition on murder and theft may exist, but individuals may decide what other arrangements they should make for themselves.

In more complex societies, two developments occur:

  • rules grow in extent. The basic purposes of law often revolve around ideas of protection and the maintenance of the peace, which are basic functions of any state. So, societies make laws about crime and disorder and also the peaceful settlement of disputes between citizens. However, as social and economic interaction develops, people also need rules about how they can do business with each other and how the state can care for the wants of its citizens. So, there are rules about industrial processes, land use, and motoring, and also social welfare, health, housing and education, none of which exists in primitive societies.

  • rules develop about rules – how to make or change rules, how to determine the validity or meaning of rules. In this way, the rules become systematised.

Any complex legal system does not only consist of rules. Legal principles can come into play in order to make sense of collections of rules and to provide the basis for future development. Legal principles are more generalised statements than legal rules and they often reflect moral standards. The Rule of Law is the basic legal principle that says that the government can only legally use its power in the way the government and the people agree. The Rule of Law prevents dictatorship and protects the rights of the people. When leaders enforce the legal code honestly, even on themselves and their friends, this is an example of the rule of law in action. "The rule of law", wrote the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle in 350 BC, "is better than the rule of any individual."

Vocabulary

rule (n) – правило, норма

crime (n) – преступление; преступность

govern (v) – управлять, руководить;

определять

disorder (n) – нарушение общественного порядка

use (v) – использовать, применять

peaceful (adj) – мирный

behaviour (n) – поведение

settlement (n) – урегулирование

keep one’s bedroom tidy – поддерживать порядок (в спальне)

dispute (n) – спор

citizen (n) – гражданин

stay out – не возвращаться домой

however (conj)– однако, тем не менее

inevitable (adj) – неизбежный, непременный

do businessвести дела, заключать сделки

interaction (n) - взаимодействие

care for smth (v) – заботиться (о чем-л.)

primitive (adj) – первобытный

relatively (adv) – относительно

want (n) – потребность

motoring (n) езда на автомобиле

code (n) – кодекс, свод законов; система

social welfareсоциальное обеспечение

правил (поведения, чести, морали)

prohibition (n) – запрет, запрещение

determine (v) – определять, устанавливать

validity (n) – юридическая сила, законность

murder (n)убийство (умышленное)

meaning (n) – значение; смысл

theft (n) – кража

come into playначать действовать

exist (v) – существовать

make sense of smth – разобраться в чем-л.

decide (v) – решать

provide (v) – давать, предоставлять

arrangement (n)договоренность, соглашение development (n) – развитие, рост; эволюция

statement (n) – заявление, утверждение reflect (v) – отражать

occur (v) – происходить, совершаться

extent (n) – объем, размер, величина

rule of law – принцип верховенства права government (n) – 1. правительство;

purpose (n) – цель, задача

revolve around (v) – вертеться вокруг (чего-л.)

2. государство, государственная власть

power (n) – власть, полномочия

protection (n) – защита, охрана

agree (v) – соглашаться; договариваться

maintenance of the peaceподдержание (сохранение) мира, порядка (общественного спокойствия)

make a lawсоздавать/принимать закон

prevent (v) – предотвращать, предупреждать

enforce (v) – принудительно применять (закон); обеспечивать соблюдение, исполнение

Comprehension Check

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