As you study law and the business environment it is important to keep in mind the limits of our subject. The study of law and regulations is essentially about a set of rules. A simple definition of the law could be rules which society enforces in a court system.
Please also keep in mind the differences between civil and criminal law. Civil law [for example contract law and negligence law] is primarily concerned with recompense for breach of enforceable promises or accidents and harm due to careless behaviors. Pament of damages [money] to the party suffering an actionable harm is a typical goal and result. Criminal law is something different than civil law with a higher standard of proof and a typical goal of punishment [criminal record, incarceration, etc.]. Criminal defendnant’s have rights that civil defendant’s do not have.
Do we need laws and what is often referred to as the “rule of law”?
It would be hard to imagine a successful national business economy without rules enforceable in a court system. What would it be like if there were no court you could petition to receive payment for goods delivered or services rendered and your only remedy was self-help [see the 19th century and the ‘wild west’].
What if damage to your car, or home, or spouse could not be heard by a reliable court system?
Book, film and television portrayals of court cases usually take place at the trial court level. Trial courts are places where a judge or a jury determine the facts and apply the law. Is a witness reliable? Did the incident occur as described by a witness? What happened?
The cases in our text book that you will be reading and briefing are appellate cases and decisions. These written opinions and decisions are the result of an appeal or the review of a trial court decision. The case may long be over but an appeals court must decide whether there were any harmful errors of procedure or the application of the law at the trial level.
Appeals court cases are important learning tools because they usually focus on, dicuss and explain the rules of law — the focus of our course!