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Portal:Law Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Law

The Law Portal

Lady Justice, often used as a personification of the law, holding a sword in one scales in the other.

Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior, with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. It has been variously described as a science and the art of justice. State-enforced laws can be made by a group legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes; by the executive through decrees and regulations; or established by judges through precedent, usually in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals may create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that adopt alternative ways of resolving disputes to standard court litigation. The creation 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.

Legal systems vary between jurisdictions, with their differences analysed in comparative law. In civil law jurisdictions, a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates the law. 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. Historically, religious law has influenced secular matters and is, as of the 21st century, still in use in some religious communities. Sharia law based on Islamic principles is used as the primary legal system in several countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. The scope of law can be divided into two domains. Public law concerns government and society, including constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law. Private law deals with legal disputes between individuals and/or organisations in areas such as contracts, property, torts/delicts and commercial law. This distinction is stronger in civil law countries, particularly those with a separate system of administrative courts; by contrast, the public-private law divide is less pronounced in common law jurisdictions. (Full article...)

Selected article

A black and white photograph of Nikolai Krylenko

The Ministry of Justice of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) (Russian: Министерство юстиции СССР, Ministerstvo Yustitsii SSSR), formed on 15 March 1946, was one of the most important government offices in the Soviet Union. It was formerly (until 1946) known as the People's Commissariat for Justice (Russian: Народный комиссариат юстиции, Narodniy Komissariat Yustitsi'i) abbreviated as Наркомюст (Narkomiust). The Ministry, at the All-Union (USSR-wide) level, was established on 6 July 1923, after the signing of the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR, and was in turn based upon the People's Commissariat for Justice of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) formed in 1917. The Ministry was led by the Minister of Justice, prior to 1946 a Commissar, who was nominated by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and confirmed by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and was a member of the Council of Ministers.

The Ministry of Justice was responsible for courts, prisons, and probations. Further responsibilities included criminal justice policy, sentencing policy, and prevention of re-offending in the USSR. The Ministry was organised into All-Union and Union departments. The All-Union level ministries were divided into separate organisations in the Republican, Autonomous Oblast, and provincial level. The leadership of the Ministry of Justice came from notable Soviet law organisations from around the country. (Full article...)

Selected biography

Choor Singh Sidhu (19 January 1911 – 31 March 2009), known professionally as Choor Singh, was a Singaporean lawyer who served as a judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore and, particularly after his retirement from the bench, a philanthropist and writer of books about Sikhism. Born to a family of modest means in Punjab, India, he came to Singapore at four years of age. He completed his secondary education in the top class at Raffles Institution in 1929, then worked as a clerk in a law firm before becoming a civil servant in the Official Assignee's office.

Encouraged by the Assistant Official Assignee, James Walter Davy Ambrose (who was later appointed a High Court Judge), to study law, Choor Singh enrolled as an external student at the University of London, passing the matriculation examination and intermediate LL.B. examination. In 1948 he was appointed a coroner, and the following year was elevated to the post of magistrate, becoming the first Indian to hold such a position in colonial Malaya. Following law studies at Gray's Inn on a government scholarship, he became a Barrister-at-Law in 1955. He was appointed a district judge in 1960 and a judge of the Supreme Court in 1963. Especially noted for his criminal judgments, Singh was the first Singapore judge to impose the death penalty on a woman. (Full article...)

Selected statute

A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutes are rules made by legislative bodies; they are distinguished from case law or precedent, which is decided by courts, and regulations issued by government agencies. (Full article...)


The Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw. 7, c.9) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the auxiliary forces of the British Army by transferring existing Volunteer and Yeomanry units into a new Territorial Force (TF); and disbanding the Militia to form a new Special Reserve of the Regular Army. This reorganisation formed a major part of the Haldane Reforms, named after the creator of the Act, Richard Haldane.

The lessons learned during the South African War of 1899-1902 had reinforced the idea that the Regular Army was not capable of fighting a prolonged full-scale war without significant assistance; almost all regular units in the United Kingdom had been deployed overseas within four months of the outbreak of hostilities. Furthermore, by the end of the first year of fighting, the Regular Reserve and the Militia Reserve had been entirely exhausted. (Regular reservists were members of the Regular Army who had retired from the active-duty portion of their service but remained available for the callout. The Militia Reserve was a pool of individuals within the Militia, who accepted an overseas service liability). There had been no thought before the war about the wider use of auxiliary forces overseas; in the event, volunteers had been used on an ad-hoc basis, and a new auxiliary arm (the Imperial Yeomanry) was formed to provide specialist troops, but it was clear that a more effective system was required in future. A number of attempts at reform under the Conservative government of 1901-1905 had failed to make any lasting changes to the system and left the auxiliary forces disorganised and demoralised.

Despite his efforts, several groups vocally opposed his approach: first, the National Service League, led by Field Marshal Lord Roberts, and backed by retired senior officers and some Conservative MPs. They argued that auxiliary forces would be ineffective against Continental armies, even, at one point, enlisting the support of the king. At the same time, the Labour Party members generally opposed any increase in military strength. Further opposition came from protagonists of the existing system, especially the militia. In the face of all these forces, Haldane made a series of last-minute changes to the bill when he presented it in March 1907, including restricting compulsory service to Home defence only. Nevertheless, the structure remained much larger than was likely to be necessary for home defence and included all the supporting arms and services for the planned fourteen full divisions and he commented that ‘they could go abroad if they wish.’ The bill was put before the Commons on 4 March, then debated in late March and throughout April, where it received prolific but disorganised opposition, mainly from partisans of the existing system. It had its third reading in June, passing with a comfortable majority, and received the Royal Assent in August; the Act became effective immediately, though the bulk of its reforms were scheduled to begin on 1 April 1908. (Full article...)

Did you know...

  • ... that although Elizabeth Richards Tilton (pictured) was a central figure in a six-month-long trial, she was never allowed to speak in court?

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Selected case

Case law, also used interchangeably with common law, is law that is based on precedents, that is the judicial decisions from previous cases, rather than law based on constitutions, statutes, or regulations. Case law uses the detailed facts of a case that have been resolved by courts or similar tribunals. These past decisions are called "case law", or precedent. Stare decisis—a Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand"—is the principle by which judges are bound to such past decisions, drawing on established judicial authority to formulate their positions. (Full article...)


A painting of some rocks in the middle of the sea

The Pedra Branca dispute was a territorial dispute between Singapore and Malaysia over several islets at the eastern entrance to the Singapore Strait, namely Pedra Branca (previously called Pulau Batu Puteh and now Batu Puteh by Malaysia), Middle Rocks and South Ledge. The dispute began in 1979 and was largely resolved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2008, which opined that Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore and Middle Rocks belonged to Malaysia. Sovereignty over South Ledge belongs to the state in the territorial waters of which it is located.

In early 1980, Singapore lodged a formal protest with Malaysia in response to a map published by Malaysia in 1979 claiming Pedra Branca. In 1989 Singapore proposed submitting the dispute to the ICJ. Malaysia agreed to this in 1994. In 1993, Singapore also claimed the nearby islets Middle Rocks and South Ledge. In 1998 the two countries agreed on the text of a Special Agreement that was needed to submit the dispute to the ICJ. The Special Agreement was signed in February 2003, and the ICJ formally notified of the Agreement in July that year. The hearing before the ICJ was held over three weeks in November 2007 under the name Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia v. Singapore).

On 23 May 2008, the Court ruled that Pedra Branca is under Singapore's sovereignty, while Middle Rocks belongs to Malaysia. As regards South Ledge, the Court noted that it falls within the apparently overlapping territorial waters generated by mainland Malaysia, Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks. As it is a maritime feature visible only at low tide, it belongs to the state in the territorial waters of which it is located. Malaysia and Singapore have established what they have named the Joint Technical Committee to delimit the maritime boundary in the area around Pedra Branca and Middle Rocks, and to determine the ownership of South Ledge. (Full article...)

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