There are quite a number of differences between private law and public law. The primary difference between the two is that public law deals with the protection of the entire society while private law pertains to the human interaction or group interaction.
It is the government agencies that enforce public laws. But the government generally distances itself from enforcing private laws.
Public law is categorized in a number of areas that oversees the relations among citizens or private firms and government agencies. The areas of public laws include administrative law, constitutional law as well as criminal laws. One area of public law deals with a certain area of interactions within the society as well as the punishments and fine for each violation of the law.
Constitutional law focuses on the laws as stated in the constitution of the country. There are also some instances where constitutional law deals with the customs and traditions. Constitutional laws are also called “laws of the land” and they provide precedent for other regulations and laws. Constitutional law also deals in defining the rights of residents and citizens alike in relation to the country or state as well as in dictating how each branch of the government functions and interacts with each other.
Administrative law is also known to be both private law and public law. This branch of law guides how government branches should operate as well as provide framework for the international law. It is also considered as private law since it seeks to balance the line when it comes to dealing with laws concerning civil laws.
Many consider criminal law as the most popular branch of both private and public law. Criminal laws deal with corporations and persons as well as regulation and laws in order for the society to maintain its peace and order. Criminal law deals with violent crimes, theft and corporate crimes like fraud.
Example of public law
Let us consider the case of Brown versus the Board of Education in the United States to illustrate and understand what public law is all about.
In this example, Linda Brown is the plaintiff and the case was coursed through her father. The Brown’s contention was that Linda was not given sufficient protection by the constitution. The defendant or the one being sued is the Board of Education.
This particular case is under the branch of constitutional law, but the government agency being sued is the Board of Education.
The Browns filed a case in court since Linda had to attend school which was farther compared to a whites-only school which was closer to her house. Linda everyday had to walk many blocks to get to the bus stop to take her to her school. Linda was an American black, and her parents thought that she was refused admission to a school closer to her house because of her race. They sued the Board of Education since they believed that their daughter’s 14th Amendment rights were being violated.
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the Browns since the high court said the segregation of white Americans from other Americans was a violation of a basic right based on the constitution. The case falls under the category of public law since discrimination and segregation based on color affects the entire US society and not just Linda Brown.
Example of Private Laws
The most popular or even common example of what private law is the civil law. Civil law aims to aid parties that are in most cases not the government. This branch of law deals with the settlement of personal disputes.
The common examples for cases in civil law are violations in consumer protection, bankruptcy, contract disputes as well other private matters like custody battles and divorce. The cases under civil law are often tried and settled without the need for government to interfere. Some countries call or refer to common law when they are discussing private laws.