Business and Personal Law

Chapter 1: The Law and the Courts

Global Law


France is located in Western Europe between Belgium and Spain, bordering the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel. Although France is slightly smaller than Texas, there are over 62 million people living there (the population of Texas is about 23 million). During World Wars I and II, France experienced widespread losses to its empire. However, today France is one of the most modern countries in Europe. It is currently moving from an economy with general government ownership to one that is more market driven. Seventy-five million tourists visit France each year; more than any other country in the world.

The French government is divided into an executive, a legislative and a judicial branch. It is considered a republic. The president has some executive power, but most executive power belongs to the prime minister who is appointed by the president. The legislative branch, called the Parliament, consists of the Senate, with 331 seats, and the National Assembly, with 577 seats. Between 2006 and 2010, 15 new seats will be added to the Senate.

The French legal system distinguishes between civil and criminal justice. Civil law applies to transactions between private individuals. Plaintiffs may receive damages, but no imprisonment may be imposed. Hearings are usually public except in the cases of divorce or those involving children. Criminal law ensures that laws are enforced as written.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom (UK) of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel, the North Sea, and the Celtic Sea. It is linked to France by the Channel Tunnel. During the 19th century, Britain was a great power but lost much of its economic strength during World Wars I and II. Britain is one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council ( China, France, the Russian Federation and the United States are the other four) and a founding member of NATO.

The UK is a constitutional monarchy consisting of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Queen Elizabeth II is the current monarch and the head of state of 15 other countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Jamaica. The UK also has 14 overseas territories. The prime minister is actually the head of the government. The legislative branch consists of a House of Lords and a House of Commons.

English law is the legal system of the UK and is the basis of common law legal systems throughout the world. English common law is made by judges who apply their common sense and knowledge of precedent to the facts before them. Common law can be amended or repealed by Parliament.

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