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Difference Between Public Law & Private Law

By Expert Author: Davis Walker

The easiest way to tell the difference between a public law and private is that all public law has to conform to the Constitution, while private law relies on contract or agreement in order to be enforceable. It is against public law to arbitrarily regulate and penalize certain speeds in traffic or the fact that one didn't stop at a stop sign because there were no other cars on the road and it was safe to proceed.

This is because people have an inherent right to travel, by whatever means they are using, in order to get from one place to another. And that right cannot be arbitrarily cancelled or revoked or made into a crime. The Constitution won't allow this!

However, private law in this regard is a different ball of wax altogether, and operates outside constitutional boundaries. If you are a public officer then you are bound by your contract of employment to obey whatever laws there are that regulate your activity. And the traffic codes fall under this category of law. If you're not a public officer, then you cannot be held under obligation to obey the code and to subject yourself to penalty should you sustain a violation.

Public law governs the individual, citizen or corporation, and the state, while private law applies to individuals. Public law deals with a greater scope, while private law deals with a more specific scope. Public law deals more with issues that affect the general public or the state itself, whereas, private law focuses more on issues affecting private individuals, or corporations.

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