What does “law” mean?
- Law is a body of rules that determines how natural (individuals) and juristic (companies, close corporations, educational and religious institutions, and clubs and societies) persons must behave.
- The body of rules govern our legal relationship with each other and with things (known as property such as a house, motor vehicle, or furniture).
- The body of rules is recognised by the Government as binding and enforceable; where legal consequences will flow if the rules are not adhered to (for example imprisonment will follow for murder or rape).
- The purpose of the law is to bring about peace and order.
- Law can be divided into substantive law (which provides the meaning and content for the body of rules) and adjective law (which determines how the substantive law must be enforced – it establishes the procedures of the civil and criminal courts).
- The law differs from:
- ethics (these are rules that individuals give to themselves to develop their personal character, for example “I will not swear”. There is a sense of guilt if a person does not follow his/her ethical rules); and
- positive morality (these are rules set by the community, for example “eat with a knife and fork”. The community rejects you for not following its rules).
- Ethics can develop into positive morality which can develop into law (for example homosexual marriages became legal on 1 December 2006).
What is the source of South African law?
- common law;
- judicial precedent; and
How can LegalWise assist you?
LegalWise can assist you with the following:
- explain your rights in law (whether your debt is based on a contract, delict or unjustified enrichment); and
- what source of law applies to your legal dispute.
- LEGAL RELATIONSHIP – the law ensures all persons have rights and duties, which other people must respect; and a person can have a right to property. The law creates a relationship (a bond) between persons, and between persons and property
- SOURCE OF LAW – the places from where the law can be found
- LAW OF CONTRACT – two or more parties enter into an agreement (which is a contract) which includes lease agreements, partnership agreements, employment agreements, consumer agreements, and credit agreements
- CONSTITUTION – a document that has rules which govern South Africa, for example, it has 36 basic rights for everyone such as the right to equality and the right to freedom of association. It is the highest law in South Africa
- COURTS - a body of courts that resolve disputes involving people and/or property. A court differs to an ombudsman and alternative dispute resolution
- CIVIL MATTER – arises when there is a dispute between people, or people and property. There is either an action procedure (where a summons is issued by the plaintiff (the aggrieved party) to the defendant, pleadings are filed and served (these are documents setting out the parties cases), once the pleading stage is closed (a few months) then the trial starts where evidence is given by both parties, and a judgement follows (in favour or against the plaintiff)); OR an application procedure (where the court’s judgement is based on papers - the parties (the applicant and the respondent) go to court and only the set of papers is considered, without evidence being delivered)
- CRIMINAL MATTER – arises when there is criminal activity. The process is as follows: a crime is committed, the matter is reported to the police, investigations are carried out by an investigating officer, and the evidence is given to the National Prosecuting Authority who decides to proceed with or reject the case. If the case proceeds then an arrest or a summons is made to the accused to appear in court