Classification of Law

Classification is an ancient concept. The Roman jurists were the ones who originally classified things. Also established by the ancient Hindu jurists were the 18 titles or heads of "Vyavahara" civil law. Criminal law is differentiated from civil law and is classified under various headings. The classification of law has two limitations. Any classification will only have a relative value, and no overarching principles or guidelines can be established for it. Old rules changed over time in terms of their nature and the context in which they were used, and new rules based on new principles came into being. A new classification is therefore required. Roman jurists once classified laws, but today's world finds that classification to be ambiguous.

Types of Law

Primarily, law is classified into two parts as −

  • National Law− also known as municipal law, it is set of rules that applied in a given territorial limit or in other words, within the boundary of a State. It governs peoples’ behaviors, protects their rights, and ensures welfare in the society.

  • International Law− the set of rules that governs and directs how governments of different nations should behave on international arena to maintain their international affairs. The states' desire to abide by international law's rules is supported by that fact. It is a rule for nations and is not supported by any force.

Classification of National Law

National law further classified as −

Let’s discuss each one of them separately (in brief) −

Constitutional Law

The supreme law of the nation is its constitution. It is spelled out in the state's constitution. The structure, authority, responsibilities, and interrelationships of the three branches of government are outlined in the Constitution. Additionally, it establishes the people's relationship with the government as well as their fundamental rights and obligations. It might be referred to as the "Law of the Laws" in the sense that the Constitutional Law, or Constitution, serves as the foundation upon which the state makes all laws.

Statute Law or Ordinary Law

It is sometimes known as municipal law or national law. It is created by the government (legislature), and it establishes and controls how individuals should act and behave. The relationships between individuals and their associations, organisations, groups, and institutions are outlined. Legislators establish laws, the executive executes them, and the court interprets and applies them to particular situations.

The two categories of ordinary law are

  • Private law

  • Public law

Private law

Private law governs interpersonal relationships of a defined community (specifically religious community). It establishes guidelines for a person's behaviour in society and his interactions with others within their community. The state arbitrates conflicts between any two people or their organisations through the use of this statute. E.g. family law, property law, etc.

Public Law

Public law is the body of law that governs interactions between the person and the state. On behalf of the community, it is created and upheld by the state.

The two subcategories of public law are

  • General Law

  • Administrative Law

General Law

It specifies how non−officials, or citizens who are not employed by the government, should interact with the state. All citizens must abide by general public law while dealing with the government.

Administrative Law

Administrative law sets down the procedures for exercising the constitutional authority granted to all governmental entities by the State Constitution. It also establishes the relationships between civil servants and the state and the relationships between civil servants and the general public. Administrative law is governed by administrative courts in some states, such as France, while general law is governed by regular courts. However, in nations like India, Britain, and the USA, general law and administrative law are both administered by the same courts.

Classification of International Law

Primarily, international law is classified as −

Public International Law

Sometimes also known as international law, public international law is the body of regulations that governs how states behave and interact with one another.

Private International Law

This law refers to the rules and principles used to decide cases with a foreign element. For instance, if an Indian and a German enter into a contract that must be carried out, private international law refers to the rules and principles used to determine the rights and obligations of the individual parties (of different nationalities). Conflict of laws is another name for this category of law. The term "international" applied here, describes to the people of different nationalities and hence because of the norms and principles of this area of law, it is known as private international law. This category of law has grown significantly in importance in modern times, and every state has established regulations for its enforcement. As a result, it needs to be appropriately classified. It is argued that it should be known as "conflict of laws" rather than "private international law" and should be regarded as a subset of municipal private law.


Many legal systems do not have classes at all, and some of the fields of law that have emerged recently cannot be classified solely under one class. The aforementioned categorization is therefore neither exhaustive nor universal. Numerous other jurists have classified things based on various principles. But because they were also created with the laws of a certain country in mind, they are insufficient and do not have widespread application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why is legal classification crucial?

The relationship between several laws and how they influence one another is made obvious by the classification of laws. It also aids in organising things in a clear and orderly fashion. Understanding the law might be beneficial to a lawyer. We must keep in mind that no legal classification will last forever.

Q. What does "law" mean in its entirety?

A law or group of laws that are upheld by the courts and control how a state is governed, how its citizens interact with its institutions of government, and how its citizens behave toward one another.

Q. What purpose does the law serve?

Laws secure our rights as citizens and safeguard our general safety against violations by third parties, including individuals, groups, and the government. To assist in ensuring our general safety, we have laws. There are a variety of them at the local, state, and federal levels, including laws concerning food safety.

Q. What is the core notion of law?

The purpose of laws is to provide order and regulate human activities as well as those of the natural world. Laws are just rules that specify how everything should behave; however, the most significant laws are those that specify how individuals should behave.

Q. How does formal law work?

Formal law focuses on the steps that must be taken throughout court cases.