Public Law


Public law is the norms that regulate the actions of State bodies and the relationships between private individuals or legal entities with Public Administration bodies.

The difference within the legal order of rules of private law and public law was established in Roman law. Public law made reference to issues of the Roman State and its way of governing, such as how to become part of the Senate or establish the functions of the institutions.

This difference remains in the study of the legal norms that govern a State. On the one hand, the rules that organize, supervise and regulate public bodies and, on the other, the rules that regulate relationships between private individuals.

Jurists must know from their university studies the two branches in which law is classified.

The norms that constitute public law and that regulate the public function fulfill an essential purpose, which is to protect the citizen from the abuse of power by the State.

Characteristics of public law

The main characteristics of public law are:

  • These norms have the purpose of organizing the public institutions of a State.
  • Watch over the general interest of citizens.
  • Individuals cannot modify the rules of this public law.
  • They are rules imposed to govern relations between individuals and public bodies.
  • Its rules affect all citizens and not a particular relationship.
  • Pacts or agreements between the parties do not prevail, but the rules are mandatory.

Types of standards

Tax, administrative, criminal or constitutional rights are a sample of public law norms since they regulate this type of matter:

  • Define and protect fundamental rights.
  • Establish a tax system.
  • Establish a budgeting system.
  • Regulate the powers of the State.
  • Regulate the election and functions of the courts and judges.
  • Define the crimes and their corresponding penalties.
  • Establish the judicial process (deadlines, resources, etc).

All these rules are mandatory, a characteristic feature of this public law, since fundamental rights, the deadlines for filing an appeal or the powers of the Public Administrations cannot be negotiated.

Principles of public law

The main principles underlying the rules of public law are:

  • Principle of legality: This means that any action carried out by the public administration or any state body must be carried out under the protection of the regulations. That is, you will have to follow the process established by law and its content. It may not exceed its competence or establish specific bodies to promote its claims, since its purpose is to achieve the general interest of all citizens.
  • Motivation principle: Decisions must be motivated or grounded in law so that there is no arbitrariness or abuse of power.
  • Principle of legal certainty: The rules must be known by individuals to know how to relate to the public entity, which means the publication of rules.

Difference between public and private law

Here you can see the difference between public and private law:

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