Public law is the branch of law that regulates the conduct of the government in its relations with its citizens, the structure and administration of the government, the responsibilities of government employees and the relationships with foreign governments. Constitutional law, taxation law and criminal law are good examples of public law because they govern the relationship of the government with its citizens (Shaw 2003). Public laws affect society as a whole. The citation of Public laws include the abbreviation, Pub. L. , the Congress number (e. g. 100), and the number of the law. For example: Pub. L. 100-006.
In contrast, private law is the area of law in a society that regulates the relationships between individuals or groups without the intervention of the state or government. Labor, commercial and family laws are examples of private law because they focus on the relationships between individuals or between corporations and the individual, without direct government involvement (Shaw 2003). Private laws are often enacted to assist citizens that have been injured by government programs or who are appealing the ruling of an executive agency.. Private laws citations include the abbreviation, Pvt. L. , the Congress number (e. g.
100), and the number of the law. For example: Pvt. L. 100-006. Public law and private law often overlap. For example, if an individual is driving inebriated and collides with another vehicle, the mere act of driving inebriated constitutes a crime for which the government would prosecute under criminal law (Shaw 2003). This would fall under public law. However, the injured party could also institute a private legal action under tort law, which is private law (LexisNexis 2007). It must also be further remembered that validity of any actions under private or public law will depend on the jurisdiction of the court where relief is sought.
In different jurisdictions, the distinction between public and private law is such that there is a problem of primacy as to its application. The general rule, however, is that depending on the venue, public law is considered as controlling when the forum is international and the issues involve international figures. When the issue is a dispute between local or municipal law and international law or public law in a local setting or application, unless the public law has been codified and accepted as part of local law, it shall not be considered as controlling and private law shall prevail.
An example of a public law enacted by the 108th Congress is Pub. L. 110-449 To provide for additional emergency unemployment compensation. This Act is also cited as the “Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008. ” This Act provided for additional first-tier and second-tier benefits and provided for their limitations. The Act also defined phaseout provisions and limited the date of the termination of employment of the affected citizens. The law also provided for the period of effectivity of the statute (LexisNexis 2007). This law is an example of a public law as it governs the relationship of the government and unemployed citizens.
The law impacts society as a whole as it pertains to additional emergency unemployment compensation. An example of a private law enacted by the 108th Congress is Pvt. L. 107-004 For the relief of Eugene Makuch. This law provides for the compensation of Eugene Makuch in the amount of $1,000,000 for his services as a foreign counterintelligence agent and his assistance to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its efforts to combat communism, the KGB and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The law also provides a limitation on the amount of attorney’s fees for services rendered in the recovery of the compensation.
This is an example of a private law as it was enacted specifically in favor of Eugene Makuch, and only affects him. It is not in any way applicable to the general public (LexisNexis 2007). References: Shaw, Malcolm N (2003). International Law. Cambridge University Press; 5 edition. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-0521531832 “About Bills, Resolutions, and Laws”. LexisNexis. 2007. http://www. lexisnexis. com/help/cu/Serial_Set/About_Bills. htm#pub. Retrieved on 2008-09-04. “About Public Laws” Moustaira Elina N. , Comparative Law: University Courses (in Greek), Ant. N. Sakkoulas Publishers, Athens, 2004, ISBN 960-15-1267-5