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About this book

This book is exceptional in the sense that it provides an introduction to law in general rather than the law of one specific jurisdiction, and it presents a unique way of looking at legal education. It is crucial for lawyers to be aware of the different ways in which societal problems can be solved and to be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different legal solutions. In this respect, being a lawyer involves being able to reason like a lawyer, even more than having detailed knowledge of particular sets of rules. Introduction to Law reflects this view by focusing on the functions of rules and on ways of arguing the relative qualities of alternative legal solutions. Where ‘positive’ law is discussed, the emphasis is on the legal questions that must be addressed by a field of law and on the different solutions which have been adopted by, for instance, the common law and civil law tradition. The law of specific jurisdictions is discussed to illustrate possible answers to questions such as when the existence of a valid contract is assumed.

Table of Contents

1. Sources of Law

Abstract
This chapter of Introduction to Law uses a brief description of the development of Western law from the time of the Romans to the present day, to elucidate the sources of law, such as custom, legislation, judicial decisions and treaties. It ends with the rise of transnational law, which relativizes the role of national States in law-making.
Jaap Hage

2. Legal Reasoning

Abstract
Legal reasoning has several aspects. On the one hand it is necessary to determine which rules can play a role in legal arguments, which rules are legal rules. The formal sources of law, such as legislation, treaties and case law, play a central role in this connection. On the other hand it is necessary to determine how legal rules lead to consequences in concrete cases. How does reasoning with legislation, treaties and precedents work? This chapter briefly introduces to the role of sources in legal reasoning and to the techniques of legal reasoning with rules and cases, including canons of interpretation and principles for handling rule conflicts.
Jaap Hage

3. Basic Concepts of Law

Abstract
Although the laws of different jurisdictions differ in content, they often have the same conceptual building blocks: the basic legal concepts. This chapter deals with a number of these basic concepts. ◘ Section 1 addresses the different fields of law, such as tort law and administrative law. Legal subjects such as natural and legal persons are the topic of ◘ Sect. 2. ◘ Section 3 deals with the operation of rules and discusses operative facts and legal consequences. Juridical acts, by means of which legal agents can intentionally change the legal positions of themselves and others, are the topic of ◘ Sect. 4. ◘ Section 5 addresses the relations between duties, prohibitions, and permissions, while ◘ Sect. 6 goes into some detail concerning competences and immunities. Sections ◘ 7, ◘ 8, ◘ 9, and ◘ 10, finally, discuss different kinds of rights.
Jaap Hage

4. The Law of Contract

Abstract
Modern society is unthinkable without the possibility to conclude binding contracts. This chapter provides first year students with a brief comparative introduction to the law of contract. It discusses the aims and principles of contract law and provides an overview of how contracts come into being, how their contents are established and what are the rights and obligations of the contracting parties in case of non-performance. The chapter thus pays attention to the doctrines of offer and acceptance, will and reliance, causa and consideration, interpretation and gap filling, prohibited contracts and performance, damages and termination for breach. All of this is preceded by an overview of the relevant sources of contract law in an international setting.
Jan Smits

5. Property Law

Abstract
Rights play an important role in private law. The owner of a car that has been damaged unlawfully by someone else has a right against the tort-feasor to be compensated. The seller of a car has the right against the buyer of the car to be paid the price for which the car was sold. And, finally, the owner of a car has a right to the car itself. This last right differs from the former two. It is not a right against a particular person such as the tort-feasor or the contract partner; it is a right on a tangible object, namely, the car.
Bram Akkermans

6. Tort Law

Abstract
Tort law deals with the compensation of damage that originated outside a contractual context. Sometimes liability for damage is shifted: somebody else than the person who suffered the damage in the first place must bear the costs. If the liability shift is based on wrongful behavior, we speak of fault liability. Liability shift without wrongful behavior is called “strict liability”. This chapter discusses both fault liability and strict liability, their conditions and their justification. Special attention is devoted to the policy underlying this liability shift, and to the legal mechanisms by means of which this policy is realized.
Jaap Hage

7. Criminal Law

Abstract
Crime and criminal law arguably constitute omnipresent topics in our society. Issues of criminal justice and criminal policy often feature prominently in political discussions and election campaigns. Citizens demand security from their governments and criminal law seems one suitable tool for the task of providing it. This chapter introduces the reader to criminal law by considering its main functions, the rationale behind making something a criminal offence, and its justifications. It offers a careful analysis of the main structure of criminal law across jurisdictions and of the elements required for criminal liability. At the same time, this chapter shows the reader how criminal law is also a tool to protect human rights: it does so by studying procedural safeguards such as the presumption of innocence.
Johannes Keiler, Michele Panzavolta, David Roef

8. Constitutional Law

Abstract
This Chapter on Constitutional Law provides a brief introduction into what constitutional law is and its main doctrines and concepts. The focus will be on what constitutes a state, a nation and a nation state, and what is sovereignty, as well as on the different forms of states (unitary, federal) as well as on various systems of government (such as parliamentary and presidential). Furthermore we will go into such fundamental constitutional concepts as democracy (direct and indirect), separation of powers and checks and balances, the rule of law, courts and judicial review and protection of fundamental rights. Also we will describe the role of states in international relations (treaty making) and the impact international law and international organizations (specifically a state like organization such as the European Union with its far ranging powers) may have on domestic (constitutional) law and policy.
Aalt Willem Heringa

9. Administrative Law

Abstract
Administrative law deals with the relation between governmental bodies and private legal subjects. It regulates how administrative authorities get public powers and contains procedural rules for the use of public powers, substantive requirements that administrative authorities have to take into account when using their powers, and provides objection procedures and judicial protection against administrative action. In this chapter special attention is paid to the rule of law and the principle of legality, to the procedural rules and substantive requirements for the use of public power, to the power of the judiciary to review administrative acts and to the organization of judicial review in administrative dispute.
Chris Backes, Mariolina Eliantonio

10. The Law of Europe

Abstract
After a brief description of the historical development of the European Union, this chapter on the law of the EU focuses on the sources of EU law and on the institutions of the Union. The internal market is dealt with, as well as the relation between EU law and the national laws of the Member States. The chapter closes with a discussion of Euroscepticism, and its possible causes and implications.
Jaap Hage

11. Tax Law

Abstract
Taxes are compulsory, unrequited payments to government. This chapter discusses the goals of taxation and provides an introduction to the most important taxes: taxes on income, taxes on goods and services, and taxes on property. Furthermore, the chapter offers insights to procedural issues of taxation and, finally, highlights the challenges that globalization poses to taxation in an international context.
Marcel Schaper

12. International Law

Abstract
International law is a highly dynamic branch of law. Its content is changing rapidly as a result of globalization and the growing influence of non-State actors. The emergence of these non-State actors on the global scene is having an increasing impact on the procedural and substantive rules of international law because they insist that their interests and their aspirations are reflected. As a result, international law is gradually being transformed from interstate law into the law of the world community. International law now covers practically all topics that are traditionally covered only by domestic law, and it is therefore extremely wide ranging. The study of international law is interesting, also for the nonspecialist, because the comparatively undeveloped nature of the international legal system stimulates reflection on fundamental aspects of the law. Although the international legal system traditionally consists of unrelated rules and institutions, there are some modest indications of an emerging international constitutional order.
Menno T. Kamminga

13. Human Rights

Abstract
This chapter provides a general introduction to the idea of human rights as it is embodied in a variety of different legal regimes at the international, regional and national levels. It also comments on the interdisciplinary aspects of human rights and situates it in its historical context.
Gustavo Arosemena

14. Elements of Procedural Law

Abstract
Substantive law will have to be enforced. Apart from private enforcement, this is done through the courts. That asks for procedural rules, which will have to ensure that justice will be done. This objective is reached by respecting the right to a fair trial for all the parties involved. This concept of a fair trial turns out to have many ramifications, which are explored in this chapter. A distinction will be made between insitutional and procedural principles. The chapter will conclude with the description of some more general aspects of court procedures, like legal representation and evidence.
Fokke Fernhout, Remco van Rhee

15. Philosophy of Law

Abstract
Philosophy of law is a branch of philosophy that deals with philosophical questions about law. This chapter deals with one of these questions, which is perhaps the most fundamental one: what is the nature of law? Philosophers of law have discussed this question for centuries, and apparently still disagree. This disagreement is partly caused by the fact that the question itself is ambiguous and can be asked with different purposes in mind. The chapter discusses the views of four legal philosophers, Hart, Dworkin, Thomas Aquinas and Hobbes, to elucidate the different interpretations of the question what law is and the possible answers, including legal positivism and natural law theory.
  • What the nature of law is
Jaap Hage
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