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Difference Between Public and Private Law

justice-scalePublic vs Private Law

Legal terms may appear complicated to common individuals, which is why confusion usually occurs during legal procedures. To have a deeper understanding of the basics regarding legal procedures, let us take a look at the difference between two terms: Private law and public law. When is law considered public or private? Read on to find out.

Public law is a theory of law that governs the relationship between the state and the individual, who is considered to be either a company or a citizen. Public law covers three sub-divisions: Constitutional, administrative and criminal law.

– Constitutional law covers the different branches of the state: Executive, legislative and judiciary.

– Administrative law regulates international trade, manufacturing, pollution, taxation, and the like.

– Criminal law involves state imposed sanctions for individuals or companies in order to achieve justice and social order.

Private law is also known as civil law. It involves relationships between individuals, or private relationships between citizens and companies. It covers the law of obligations and the law of torts, which is defined as follows: Firstly, the Law of Obligation organizes and regulates legal relations between individuals under contract. Secondly, the Law of Torts addresses and remedies issues for civil wrongs, not arising from any contractual obligation.

Public law is simply distinguished from private law as a law involving the state. Private law is a private bill enacted into law. It targets individuals or corporations, unlike public law, which has a broader scope, and affects the general public.


1. Public law governs the individual, citizen or corporation, and the state, while private law applies to individuals.

2. Public law deals with a greater scope, while private law deals with a more specific scope.

3. 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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