EnglishLaw blog

Law division, and public and private distinction

Law is divided into public and private, and that is one of the oldest ways of its division dating ever since the Roman Empire period i.e. Roman Law. Everything started with the Books of Justinian where we can find four differences between public and private law:

 1) Administration Law serves to public interest, while the Private Law servers for private interests,

2) Public Law is created by the State, and the Private is created by private subjects (citizens and legal subjects),

3) Public Law governs the State and the relations in which the State is the subject, while the Private law governs individuals and the relations in which they are the subjects,

4) Public Law is consisted of a strict attitude ( ius cogens ) created by the State and which is obligatory for legal subjects, and on the other hand there is dispositive law ( ius dispositium ) which is also created by the state but it is only obligatory for the subjects in case there is an autonomous law created instead.

In contemporary systems, public and private division of Law is more theoretical. It contains numerous controversies,  because there no precise limit between these two Laws. States such as Germany and France make a distinction between public and private Law in different ways but the y agree that the Administration Law is a branch of Public Law, while Civil Law belongs to the Private Law.


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Translated into English by Ljubica Drača, MSc.