definition of public law

Public Law is the section of the legal system that aims to regulate relations between individuals and private entities in relation to public institutions of the state. In this way, Public Law is the set of norms and laws that are oriented towards the defense of individuals and the fulfillment of the general interest of society.

Objectives of Public Law and the Rule of Law

The purpose of Public Law is the maintenance of social order, community harmony and peace. In other words, its objective is to achieve a peaceful coexistence between individuals. In this way, it is a matter of preserving the interest of the majority, the well-known general interest or common good.

In order for the objective of Public Law to be achieved in an effective way, it is necessary that there be a State of Law. The rule of law is understood to be the set of rules agreed by individuals so that there is stability within society, that is, a reasonable and peaceful coexistence. This means that one cannot speak of Public Law outside of a Rule of Law.

Public right and private right

It should be remembered that Roman Law already established a general distinction in Law: Public Law and Private Law (Ius Publicum and Ius Privatum). The first focuses on ordering and regulating the relations of the state with individuals and the ties of individuals with the society in which they live. Private Law for the Romans is one that regulates relationships between individuals themselves. In summary, we could affirm that Public Law includes the norms by which society is organized. On the other hand, in this branch of Law the interest is centered on the role of the State (in Private Law the interest is oriented towards the individual). Public Law has an imperative nature while private law is subject to the will of the people.

The fundamental areas of Public Law

There are two essential areas in Public Law: fundamental rights and constitutional law. Regarding the first area, issues such as human dignity, the right to education or health or social rights are addressed. In the field of constitutional law, the protection mechanisms established in the constitutional text of a nation are dealt with (judicial mechanisms, how to sue before judicial bodies or popular actions to protect collective rights).

There is also within Public Law the branch of Administrative Law as an area that regulates a whole series of situations (medical liability, liability for damages to inmates, immigration laws, urban planning, public contracting, etc.).

Photos: iStock - Paolo Cipriani / Yuri_Arcurs

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