When we walk outside of our homes and head out into the world, law affects everything we do. Driving to work in our car, buying groceries at the supermarket and even logging on to the internet are all common tasks we perform everyday which are affected by the laws set forth by our government. We may not realize it, but the decisions in our lives are made with the respect of the law in mind. What is Law?
Law is defined by Melvin as “a body of rules of action or conduct prescribed by controlling authority and having legal binding force” (2011). Essentially, it creates duties, obligations ad rights that reflect accepted views of a given society. In business and society, the law serves many roles and functions to uphold its main purpose of promoting fairness and equality. The Roles of Law
The roles of law in business and society can be classified into three different categories; civil and criminal law, substantive and procedural law, and public and private laws. These categories of law in business and society help define not only what is right and wrong, but the protection of both as well.
Civil law is used in business and society to compensate parties (individuals or businesses) for losses as a result of another’s misconduct. It determines the amount of damages, or losses, the victim has suffered and is settled with compensation. Criminal law is a protection of society and where crimes committed by the public are prosecuted by governing bodies. An example of civil law would be if a person was suing their business partner for not living up to their business contract. If the partner became enraged and murdered the person, this would be an example of criminal law.
Substantive law provides a citizen or individual with rights and creates certain duties, while procedural laws provide a structure and set rules for pursuing substantive rights. If a citizen intentionally harmed another citizen, substantive law would state how this is a crime. Procedural law would define how the government could try the case in a court of law.
Public laws are laws derived from government entities and define the relationship between individuals (citizens; companies) and the state (government) with statutes and administrative regulations. Public law is subdivided into three parts; constitutional law, administrative law and criminal law.
Private laws bind two parties (with a contract or property) without interference or regulation from the government. An example of public law would be O.J. Simpson murder case (state vs. Simpson); whereas private law could be two business partners fighting over the rights to a property (Jones vs. Mitchell). The Functions of Law
According to Melvin, “American law is composed of a unique blend from various sources based on U.S. historical roots” (2011). He goes on to explain that modern law in the United States regulating businesses and individuals is a combination of constitutional law, statutory law, common law and administrative law.
While these are the primary sources of law and they sometimes work in conjunction with each other, constitutional law is the foundation for all other law in the U.S. and is the supreme law of the land (Melvin, 2011). Constitutional law has three major functions in business and society; to establish a structure for federal and state governments, to grant specific powers for the different branches of government, and to provide procedural protections for U.S. citizens from wrongful government actions.
However, with the changing complexity and development of society in today’s world, American law has adapted with additional functions. According to ComboApp, “at least eight major functions of law can be identified; (1) to keep the peace, (2) to influence and enforce standards of conduct, (3) to maintain the status quo in certain aspects of society, (4) to facilitate orderly change, (5) to allow for maximum self-assertion by the individual, (6) to facilitate planning and the realization of reasonable expectations, (7) to promote social justice, and (8) to provide a mechanism for compromise solutions between polar principles and positions” (2012).
These functions of law protect the best interest of individuals and businesses through statutes, regulations and rights which are enforced by our government. Roles and Functions of Law in the Aviation Industry
From the years 2005 to 2011, I was a flight attendant for Jetblue Airways. I loved being a part of such a constantly changing industry and I did see many changes occur with the laws and regulations put forth by government agencies. As the years of my employment passed, new laws were passed in the industry for many reasons including maintenance issues, security requirements and even passenger rights.
The type of law I was mostly familiar with was administrative law. This is the source of law that authorizes the exercise of authority by executive branch agencies and independent government agencies (Melvin, 2011). In the airline industry, this would be the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA was in control of maintenance regulation of aircrafts and certain areas of security.
After a failed terrorist attack in 2006, The FAA introduced the liquid ban where passengers could not carry more than three ounces of liquid containers in their carry on baggage. This type of regulation was put forth for the security of society. Furthermore, the Commerce Clause, which gives the federal government the exclusive right to regulate interstate and foreign commerce, is the source of all Federal Aviation Regulations and gives the FAA the power to regulate all activities in the airspace. This is because all aircraft use the same airspace, which is also used for interstate and foreign commerce.
While many aspects of aviation law falls under the attention of the FAA, other types of laws are regulated by federal and states governments. Federal and state government mandate certain areas of the aviation industry such as air traffic regulations and interstate route and service preventions according to the Federal Aviation Act. Additionally, federal law does not preempt state products liability law and more often than not, in most defective product cases, aviation manufacturers may be held strictly liable (HG.org Worldwide Legal Directories, 2012). The functions and role of law in the aviation industry are quite extensive, but their main purpose is to provide safety, security and comfort to airline passengers. Conclusion
The functions and role of law in business and society provide different rules and guidelines for every aspect of our lives; both socially and professionally. The law not only provides rules for what is wrong and right in society and business, but also protects citizens and businesses from certain actions of others and the government. The functions of law are always adapting to the changes of society and will always be there to keep in order in our world. Without law, the world would be an unsafe and unstable place to live and to do business in.
ComboApp. (2012). The Functions of Law. Retrieved from http://worldacademyonline.com/article/22/64/the_functions_of_law.html.
HG.org Worldwide Legal Directories. (2012). Aviation Law. Retrieved from http://www.hg.org/aviation-law.html.
Melvin, S. P. (2011). The Legal Environment of Business: A Managerial Approach: Theory to Practice. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.