This article is written by Ishika Gupta pursuing BBA L.LB from Gitarattan International Business School. This article aims to classify the law into different heads and also tells the need for such classification. 


‘Lag’, a Teutonic word means ‘specific’ in general. Law has been derived from the same word. In simple words, a code of conduct which is specific in nature and regulates human relations and demeanour is the law. It is equally applicable to all the people of a particular state.

In a society, human beings do various activities for their livelihood, some of which are bad and some are good for the society and to control and regulate such behaviour that there is set of rules and regulations and such set is called law. Almost all aspects of life are regulated by law. Terms like human rights and fundamental rights are of great use when there are laws behind them to define, execute and implement them. If there are no such laws these terms will be meaningless. Symbol of the law indicates that justice should be impartial without and regardless of money, wealth, power and identity. 

As per John Austin law as a whole is a set of those rules and regulations which are made by those men who are socially or politically of high status. In other words, a system which contains rules and regulation that the social and governmental bodies enforce in order to control human behaviour is the law. It is an amorphous set of regulations. 

Need for Classification

To understand the law properly it is necessary to classify it. After classification, it becomes easy to understand the nature, scope and meaning of a particular law. The areas covered by that law can be easily identified and its enforceability can also be measured. The rules can be arranged systematically and not only it helps in the codification of law but also helps in understanding the relationship between different laws.

In India there are two main categories of law namely international law and national law, further, the national law is divided into public and private law and the chain goes so on.

Types of Law

Law can be classified into the following parts:

1. International Law and Municipal Law

International law is based upon the international agreement of treaties. It regulates the relation between different states and international persons. It tends to form a set of regulations and framework to guide states on various things like diplomacy, war, trade, human rights etc. For example, Mexico and the USA’s NAFTA is a matter of international law and so are many human rights.

Municipal laws are those which are enforceable within the boundaries of the country. it maintains the relations between citizens and also between citizens and the state. These laws can be based upon the parliamentary acts, customs or religious practices of the people of that place.

2. Public and Private Law

Public law governs the relationship between people and state. The objective of public law is to maintain the objectives of the state as mentioned in the preamble. The sources for public law include Magna Carta, natural law, bill of rights etc. Examples of public law can be constitutional law, administrative law etc. If there is any breach of law the aggrieved person may approach the court by PIL, writs etc.

Private law defines the rights and duties of people in regard to their day to day transaction i.e. it guides the legal relationship between private individuals. It is a part of the civil law system. The main objective of this law is to regulate the behaviour of individuals when they indulge with each other. The sources can be the customs, practices, traditions etc. Private law includes the law of torts and law of contracts etc. A suit can be filed if there is a breach of law.

3. Criminal Law and Civil Law

Civil law aims to regulate the relation between individuals, organizations etc. And if anyone is a victim and has suffered he is awarded compensation. In case of a suit, it is the plaintiff who is supposed to prove the offence. For instance, disputes between landlords, divorce proceedings, disputed related to property etc.

On the other hand, criminal law is involved in crimes and punishment for them. The main objective of this law is to punish for those acts which seem to be against the policy of the state. The burden of proof lies on the state. There are various penalty and in rare cases the death penalty. Crimes like theft, murder, rape etc. are covered under criminal law. In India, the Indian Penal Code is the statute for criminal law.

4. Substantive Law and Procedural Law

Substantive law is written or statutory law that regulates the relation between people or between people and state. It basically tells how the facts of the case are to be handled, as well as how to charge the particular case. It is the substance of the case that is to handle. It can function by itself and fate of the case is decided by it only. 

Procedural law, on the other hand, sets the framework for the procedure of the case i.e. how the hearing will take place etc. It is a very detailed process that tells what step is to be taken next. For instance, it will decide whether a particular will go under trial or not. It needs other laws to be applied side by side.


Therefore, these are the various heads that law can be classified into and every type of law has emerged over a period of time. Since the needs of people change from time to time and the laws are made as per those needs. Hence the law must be classified properly and revised from time to time for better understanding. This also proves that a law that is convenient at present may not be suitable in future. 

As per various jurists, the law is classified in order to avoid chaos or confusion in administration of these laws. As told earlier that law guides every aspect of human life and hence it is necessary that it is kept in order and understood properly so that people can apply it for the benefit of the society. 

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