We explain what public law is and the branches of study that compose it. In addition, its difference with private law and examples.
What is public law?
A part of the legal systems whose norms concern public power and its relations with individuals, organizations and with itself is known as public law , provided that it is exercised as a representation of the interests of the State .
In other words, it is the branch of positive law that orders the relations of subordination and supra-ordination between the State (represented by the Public Administration ) and individuals, as well as between the different bodies that make up the Public Power.
Together with private law, it makes up the branch of positive law , that is, that which is contained in written legislation (Constitution, Law, etc.) and in agreement and acceptance by the community in which it governs.
Therefore, public law is also part of the legal system built by societies to govern their own operation, and to which all of them choose to submit.
Public law can vary greatly according to the nation that governs, but in general it is governed by two guiding principles:
- Principle of legality . It establishes that all actions of the public authorities must necessarily be registered in the current legal order, that is, they must have legal certainty, in accordance with their jurisdiction and nature. That is to say: the State cannot violate the laws.
- Principle of empire . It establishes that every relationship between the State and individuals is exercised from a situation of inequality in which the former has dominion ( imperium ), so that he will be exercising public authority. That is to say: the State is the authority.
Branches of public law
The branches of public law are usually the following:
- Constitutional law . That branch that concerns the interpretation of the legal texts of the Constitution and other written systems that are fundamental in the construction of the State.
- Administrative Law . That which regulates the public administration and modulates the operation and relations between the various agencies that make up the State.
- Public international law . It concerns the relations between the different nation-states of the planet: their joint plans, their agreements and economic exchanges, their border disputes, etc.
- Criminal law . It has to do with the punitive capacity of the State, that is, its capacity to punish those who violate thelawand to exert coercion on citizens among those who prevail.
- Procedural law . It regulates the mechanisms and procedures of the State in relation to the way in which it exercises its power, guaranteeing the minimum rights and the proportion at all times.
- Labor law . That branch linked to the legal framework that regulates work to guarantee theirdignity,legalityand fair remuneration, as well as the rights and duties of workers, employers,unions, etc.
- Financial law . Regulates public spending processes, to ensure transparency and good behavior of the State in its use of public funds.
- Tax law . The one that has to do with taxes, tributes and other forms of tax collection, which the State uses to finance itself.
- Electoral law . It is responsible for regulating the procedures of succession of power and replacement of rulers at all levels, in any of the public powers.
Difference between public and private law
The difference between public and private law dates back to the ancient years of Roman Law , when the need to discern between legal matters related to private individuals (Private Law) and those related to “Public Res,” that is, the Public “thing” of the State (Public Law).
Both branches are distinguished, therefore, in their scope of action : when dealing with matters that involve individuals or even the State acting as one of them (commercial operations, successions, private property , etc.) we will talk about private law; When it comes to the State and the rules of coexistence and the social pact (public order, public funds, operation of the State, etc.) we will talk about public law.
Public Law Examples
Examples of public law are simple and abundant:
- The conviction of a criminal who was captured by the security organs (criminal law) and tried by an appropriate court ( procedural law ).
- The interpretation of what is established in the National Constitution ( constitutional law ) to determine whether or not they proceeded correctly in presidential elections (electoral law).
- The revision of international sovereignty treaties to mediate in a third country in conflict (public international law).
- Defend a worker whose rights have been violated ( labor law ).