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Functions and role of law in business and society
A body of laws practically enables the smooth functioning of society and the businesses
within it. These laws place oversight on social behavior, enforce ethical standards and
expectations as well as prescribe rules of conduct, punishments against violations and a way to
settle disputes. The specific roles and functions of laws include the following: ensuring peace at
all times, safeguarding personal freedom while restraining governmental powers, safeguarding
expectations, ensuring free competition for economic growth, ensuring social justice to all and
safeguarding the environment.
While the mandate of laws is clear, what brings complexity in the scenario is the precise
reach, applicability and overriding of laws. The motley of applicable statutes can make the
outcome in a legal process quite unpredictable. The US system allows for enactment at the
federal, state and local levels. The various kinds by way of scope include constitutions (the
overriding laws), common law which is developed by judges as interpretations (and precedents),
statutes (developed by elected representatives), administrative regulations, treaties between
foreign countries as well as executive orders – straight orders issued by the government in times
of emergency.
All law must be in consonance with the constitution, the overriding and governing
context of the vast domain of all other laws. All too often, laws are challenged to be struck down
if they are in violation of any of the principles of the Constitution. The Constitution is the biggest
champion of individual liberties and rights. As such, it restrains the powers of the government
from getting overbearing and maintains a delicate balance.
Laws may also be dissected according to the nature of the laws, which gives further
insight into how laws function and what role they play. Therefore, criminal laws dictate how the
government will treat convicts guilty of committing a crime. These responses could be
incarceration or payment of fines. Civil law is concerned about responsibilities and terms that
entities owe to one another. The recourse here for the afflicted party often translates to monetary
compensation. Substantive law deals with the rights, duties and obligations that are protected and
accorded by the law. Procedural law governs and lays out exactly how substantive law may be
applied and promulgated, governing agent action. Public law governs the interaction between the
government and the general public. Constitution law and criminal law are two types of public
law. Private law, on the other hand will dictate the interaction among the members of general
public. Contracts are good examples of such law (Mallor, J., Barnes, Bowers & Langvardt,
When it comes to determining the scope and applicability, federal law trumps state law
where there is an overlap. At times when the scope of the federal law is so vast that there are no
exclusions, state law in that field, enacted before or afterwards, will always defer. The Supreme
Court upheld the federal law in the case of Cipollone vs. Liggett Group, Inc. 505 U.S. 504
(1992), where two federal laws, the Federal Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act of 1965 and
the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1969 voided NJ’s laws requiring or prohibiting
advertising practices. The case was decided in favor of the defendants, Liggett Group, Inc.
My job at the tax collectors office involves us dealing with tax law and the revenue code.
Tax law comprises of statutory, regulatory, constitutional, and common-law regulations that are
used by regulatory authorities to levy tax. We deal with taxation on income and estates as well as
taxation on capital gains. A section of the department also deals with licensing issues that are
governed by public law (Ault, Arnold & Gest, 2010).

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