What is private law?

We explain what private law is and what its branches are. In addition, the differences between public and private law.

  1. What is private law?

Private law is a branch of positive law (that explicitly contemplated in written laws and legal bodies) that is dedicated to the regulation of the different activities and relationships between private citizens , based on a situation of legal equality between them.

Private law is distinguished from public law, which deals with the relations of the State , but also her concern situations where the administration public act more as a particular (and not the regulatory state). This distinction between both currents of law dates back to ancient times (the jurisprudence of the Roman Empire) and is fundamental to the systematization of law as we understand it today.

This branch of law is governed by two fundamental precepts, which are:

  • Autonomy of the will . It stipulates that interactions between people , in the pursuit of their own interests, are carried out of their own free will, without the presence of coercion, deceit, violence or obligation. Only then can they be legally valid, provided they do not contradict the provisions of any legal system.
  • Equality before the law . In private acts, the subjects of law submit to the same legal framework and are at a point of equality before the law , that is, neither escapes the designs of the law nor can they demand anything from the other without an agreement of wills.
  1. Branches of private law

Private law includes the following branches or categories:

  • Civil law . Also called “common law,” it regulates the legal relationships and transactions between people, as well as what involves their rights, freedoms, assets or their transfer.
  • Commercial law . It governs commercial transactions and exchanges of goods and services for money.
  • Labor law . Control and order the relationships between employers and workers.
  • Rural law . Regulates the issues of life in the countryside and agricultural production.
  • Private international law . Regulates commercial transactions that occur between States and individuals of other nations, or between two States acting as individuals.
  1. Differences between public and private law

Public Law
The rules promulgated by public law are rules of subordination.

The fundamental difference between public and private law, as we said, lies in the presence of the State . In principle, if the actions concern the State or the public administration, it will be an act of public law; while if they involve two or more individuals, personal or property matters of third parties, it will be an act of private law.

This means, in concrete terms, that the norms promulgated by public law are norms of subordination , since the State is the guarantor of the social pact and is the one who must ensure compliance with the laws and the provisions of the National Constitution, including watching himself.

On the other hand, the norms of private law are names of coordination , since they serve to agree or regulate the negotiations between two independent and equal parties before the law, to guarantee that neither exercises undue actions on the other.

There is also the possibility that the State itself acts as a private individual, buying or selling goods and services, negotiating with other States or with international individuals, etc. In those cases, too, we will talk about private law, since the State will submit as any person to the terms of equality before the law and autonomy of the will.

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