Role and Functions of Law
The accepted generic definition of law is: “a body of rules of action or conduct prescribed by controlling authority, and having legal binding force” (Melvin, 2011, ch 1). “While there are many sources of American law, the common characteristic of the current state of law is that it creates duties, obligations, and rights that reflect accepted views of a given society” (Melvin, 2011, ch 1). The functions and role of law in business and society are much in the same; to provide guidance and structure. The laws which guide society and business come from a combination of constitutional law, statutory law, common law and administrative law. (Melvin, 2011, ch 1)
Constitutional law is the basis for all other laws and is the “supreme law of the land” in the United States. (Melvin, 2011, ch 1) The Constitution works together with other sources of law in three areas:
(1) Establishing a structure for federal and state ...view middle of the document...
Statutory law is created by the legislative (Congress) branch and either approved or rejected by the executive (President) branch. At the state level the state legislature (i.e. General Assembly) passes statutes such as “motor vehicle laws, business corporation and partnership laws, and other traditional state matters” (Melvin, 2011, ch 1). Local level statutes are called ordinances or local regulations and they “generally regulate issues such as zoning (regulating where certain businesses, such as factories, may be located) or impose health and safety regulations on local merchants such as restaurants” (Melvin, 2011, ch 1).
“Administrative law is the source of law that authorizes the exercise of authority by executive branch agencies and independent government agencies” (Melvin, 2011, ch 1). These executive and independent government agencies have the power to manage the details of the statutes and have the power to “impose regulations, make policy, and enforce the law in their designated area of jurisdiction” (Melvin, 2011, ch 1).
Common law is “law that has not specifically been passed by the legislature, but rather law that is based on the fundamentals of previous cases that had similar facts” (Melvin, 2011, ch 1). Using the fundamentals of previous cases with similar facts is called precedent. The United States common law originates from British common law beginning in 1066 (Melvin, 2011, ch 1).
In my previous job the functions and role of law were present on a daily basis. We had to be sure OSHA codes were being followed, we had to ensure all of our shipments were the proper weight (in accordance to weight limits), we had to follow EEOC, etc. Laws are necessary to set structure and guidelines to ensure both society and businesses run smoothly and effectively.
Melvin, S.P. (2011). The legal environment of business. A managerial approach. McGraw-Hill, Irwin. New York, NY.