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An informal term used to refer to all laws governing electronic communications and transactions, particularly those conducted via the Internet.
One against whom a lawsuit is brought the accused person in a criminal proceeding.
enabling legislation
A statute enacted by Congress that authorizes the creation of an administrative agency and specifies the name, composition, purpose, and powers of the agency being created.
equitable principles and maxims
General propositions or principles of law that have to do with fairness (equity).
executive agency
An administrative agency within the executive branch of government. At the federal level, executive agencies are those within the cabinet departments.
historical school
A school of legal thought that emphasizes the evolutionary process of law and looks to the past to discover what the principles of contemporary law should be.
independent regulatory agency
An administrative agency that is not considered part of the government's executive branch and is not subject to the authority of the president. Independent agency officials cannot be removed without cause.
international law
The law that governs relations among nations. National laws, customs, treaties, and international conferences and organizations are generally considered to be the most important sources of international law.
The science or philosophy of law.
A body of enforceable rules governing relationships among individuals and between individuals and their society.
legal positivism
A school of legal thought centered on the assumption that there is no law higher than the laws created by a national government. Laws must be obeyed, even if they are unjust, to prevent anarchy.
legal realism
A school of legal thought of the 1920s and 1930s that generally advocated a less abstract and more realistic approach to the law, an approach that takes into account customary practices and the circumstances in which transactions take place. This school left a lasting imprint on American jurisprudence.
national law
Law that pertains to a particular nation (as opposed to international law).
natural law
The belief that government and the legal system should reflect universal moral and ethical principles that are inherent in human nature. The natural law school is the oldest and one of the most significant schools of legal thought.
A regulation enacted by a city or county legislative body that becomes part of that state's statutory law.
persuasive authority
Any legal authority or source of law that a court may look to for guidance but on which it need not rely in making its decision. Persuasive authorities include cases from other jurisdictions and secondary sources of law.
One who initiates a lawsuit.
positive law
The body of conventional, or written, law of a particular society at a particular point in time.
A court decision that furnishes an example or authority for deciding subsequent cases involving identical or similar facts.
primary source of law
A document that establishes the law on a particular issue, such as a constitution, a statute, an administrative rule, or a court decision.
procedural law
Law that establishes the methods of enforcing the rights established by substantive law.
The relief given to an innocent party to enforce a right or compensate for the violation of a right.
The process undertaken by an administrative agency when formally adopting a new regulation or amending an old one. Rulemaking involves notifying the public of a proposed rule or change and receiving and considering the public's comments.
secondary source of law
A publication that summarizes or interprets the law, such as a legal encyclopedia, a legal treatise, or an article in a law review.
sociological school
A school of legal thought that views the law as a tool for promoting justice in society.
stare decisis
A common law doctrine under which judges are obligated to follow the precedents established in prior decisions.
statute of limitations
A federal or state statute setting the maximum time period during which a certain action can be brought or certain rights enforced.
statutory law
The body of law enacted by legislative bodies (as opposed to constitutional law, administrative law, or case law).
substantive law
Law that defines, describes, regulates, and creates legal rights and obligations.
uniform law
A model law created by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and/or the American Law Institute for the states to consider adopting. If the state adopts the law, it becomes statutory law in that state. Each state has the option of adopting or rejecting all or part of a uniform law.
To render a judicial decision. In the administrative process, adjudication is the trial-like proceeding in which an administrative law judge hears and decides issues that arise when an administrative agency charges a person or a firm with violating a law or regulation enforced by the agency.
administrative agency
A federal or state government agency established to perform a specific function. Administrative agencies are authorized by legislative acts to make and enforce rules in order to administer and enforce the acts.
administrative law
The body of law created by administrative agencies (in the form of rules, regulations, orders, and decisions) in order to carry out their duties and responsibilities.
administrative law judge (ALJ)
One who presides over an administrative agency hearing and has the power to administer oaths, take testimony, rule on questions of evidence, and make determinations of fact.
administrative process
The procedure used by administrative agencies in the administration of law.
binding authority
Any source of law that a court must follow when deciding a case. Binding authorities include constitutions, statutes, and regulations that govern the issue being decided, as well as court decisions that are controlling precedents within the jurisdiction.
The failure to perform a legal obligation.
case law
The rules of law announced in court decisions. Case law includes the aggregate of reported cases that interpret judicial precedents, statutes, regulations, and constitutional provisions.
A reference to a publication in which a legal authority-such as a statute or a court decision-or other source can be found.
civil law
The branch of law dealing with the definition and enforcement of all private or public rights, as opposed to criminal matters.
civil law system
A system of law derived from that of the Roman Empire and based on a code rather than case law the predominant system of law in the nations of continental Europe and the nations that were once their colonies. In the United States, Louisiana, because of its historical ties to France, has in part a civil law system.
common law
The body of law developed from custom or judicial decisions in English and U.S. courts, not attributable to a legislature.
constitutional law
The body of law derived from the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of the various states.
criminal law
Law that defines and governs actions that constitute crimes. Generally, criminal law has to do with wrongful actions committed against society for which society demands redress.
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