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Business Law I Essentials

1.1 Basic American Legal Principles

Business Law I Essentials1.1 Basic American Legal Principles
  1. Preface
  2. 1 American Law, Legal Reasoning, and the Legal System
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 Basic American Legal Principles
    3. 1.2 Sources and Types of Law
    4. 1.3 Important Business Laws and Regulations
    5. Assessment Questions
    6. End Notes
  3. 2 Disputes and Dispute Settlement
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 Negotiation
    3. 2.2 Mediation
    4. 2.3 Arbitration
    5. Assessment Questions
    6. End Notes
  4. 3 Business Ethics and Social Responsibility
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 Business Ethics
    3. 3.2 Social Responsibility
    4. Assessment Questions
    5. End Notes
  5. 4 Business and the United States Constitution
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 Commerce Clause
    3. 4.2 Constitutional Protections
    4. Assessment Questions
    5. End Notes
  6. 5 Criminal Liability
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 Common Business Crimes
    3. 5.2 Civil vs. Criminal Liability
    4. Assessment Questions
    5. End Notes
  7. 6 The Tort System
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 Intentional Torts and Negligence
    3. 6.2 Product and Strict Liability
    4. Assessment Questions
    5. End Notes
  8. 7 Contract Law
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 Agreement, Consideration, and Promissory Estoppel
    3. 7.2 Capacity and Legality
    4. 7.3 Breach of Contract and Remedies
    5. Assessment Questions
    6. End Notes
  9. 8 Sales Contracts
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 The Nature and Origins of Sales Contracts
    3. 8.2 Warranties and Sales Contracts
    4. Assessment Questions
    5. End Notes
  10. 9 Employment and Labor Law
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Employment, Worker Protection, and Immigration Law
    3. 9.2 Labor Law
    4. 9.3 Equal Opportunity in Employment
    5. Assessment Questions
    6. End Notes
  11. 10 Government Regulation
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Administrative Law
    3. 10.2 Regulatory Agencies
    4. Assessment Questions
    5. End Notes
  12. 11 Antitrust Law
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 History of Antitrust Law
    3. 11.2 Antitrust Laws
    4. Assessment Questions
    5. End Notes
  13. 12 Unfair Trade Practices and the Federal Trade Commission
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 Unfair Trade Practices
    3. 12.2 The Federal Trade Commission
    4. Assessment Questions
    5. End Notes
  14. 13 International Law
    1. Introduction
    2. 13.1 Introduction to International Law
    3. 13.2 Sources and Practice of International Law
    4. Assessment Questions
    5. End Notes
  15. 14 Securities Regulation
    1. Introduction
    2. 14.1 Liability Under the Securities Act
    3. 14.2 The Framework of Securities Regulation
    4. Assessment Questions
    5. End Notes
  16. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
  17. Index

The American legal system has its roots in the British legal system. It was developed with the purpose of establishing standards for acceptable conduct, proscribing punishment for violations as a deterrent, establishing systems for enforcement, and peacefully resolving disputes. The ultimate goal of the American legal system is promotion of the common good.

Establishing Standards

The American legal system was developed with the goal of establishing a set of standards that outline what is to be considered minimally acceptable behavior. Broadly speaking, federal laws are those that all United States citizens are expected to follow. State and local laws may often be similar to federal laws, but they may also differ quite a bit, and only govern the state’s citizens.

A bookshelf lined with various law-related books.
Figure 1.2 The American legal system is designed to establish a set of standards for acceptable behavior. (Credit: joergelman/ pixabay/ License: CC0)

Promoting Consistency

The American legal system follows the British Common Law system, which is designed to leverage past judicial reasoning, while also promoting fairness through consistency. Judges in the Common Law system help shape the law through their rulings and interpretations. This body of past decisions is known as case law. Judges use case law to inform their own rulings. Indeed, judges rely on precedent, i.e., previous court rulings on similar cases, for ruling on their own cases.

All U.S. states, except Louisiana, have enacted “reception statutes,” stating that the judge-made common law of England is the law of the state to the extent that it does not conflict with the state’s current laws.

However, the body of American law is now so robust that American cases rarely cite English materials, except for a British classic or a famous old case. Additionally, foreign law is not cited as binding precedent. Therefore, the current American practice of the common law tradition refers more to the process of judges looking to the precedent set jurisdictionally, and substantially similar to, American case law.

Maintaining Order

Congruent with the goal of establishing standards and promoting consistency, laws are also used to promote, provide, and maintain order.

Resolving Disputes

Conflicts are to be expected given people’s varying needs, desires, objectives, values systems, and perspectives. The American legal system provides a formal means for resolving conflicts through the courts. In addition to the federal court and individual state systems, there are also several informal means for resolving disputes that are collectively called alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Examples of these are mediation and arbitration.

Protecting Liberties and Rights

The United States Constitution and state laws provide people with many liberties and rights. American laws operate with the purpose and function of protecting these liberties and rights from violations by persons, companies, governments, or other entities.

Based on the British legal system, the American legal system is divided into a federal system and a state and local system. The overall goal of both systems is to provide order and a means of dispute settlement, as well as to protect citizens’ rights.

Clearly, the purposes of the American legal system are broad and well-considered.

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