Friday, June 10, 2011
Friday, April 16, 2010
court, also called court of law, a person or body of persons having judicial authority to hear and resolve disputes in civil, criminal, ecclesiastical, or military cases. The word court, which originally meant simply an enclosed place, also denotes the chamber, hall, building, or other place where judicial proceedings are held.
Functions of courts
The primary function of any court system—to help keep domestic peace—is so obvious that it is rarely considered or mentioned.
In the course of helping to keep the peace, courts are called upon to decide controversies. The issues presented to, and decided by, the court may be either factual, legal, or both.
All courts apply preexisting rules (statutes) formulated by legislative bodies, though the procedures vary greatly between common-law and civil-law countries. In applying these rules, however, courts must also interpret them, typically transforming the rules from generalities to specifics and sometimes filling gaps to cover situations never addressed by lawmakers when the legislation was first drafted. As courts decide disputes in individual cases, they create an important by-product beyond peaceful settlements—that is, they develop rules for deciding future cases.
In some countries, courts not only interpret legislation but also determine its validity (constitutionality), and in so doing they sometimes nullify statutes passed by legislatures. A court empowered with such authority may declare that a piece of legislation is null and void because it is incompatible with constitutional principles
Distinct from the type of lawmaking just described is a more conscious and explicit type of judicial legislation that is somewhat less controversial.This is a technical area in which expert knowledge of the type possessed by judges and lawyers is needed, in which constant attention to detail is required, and in which major problems of social, economic, or political policy are seldom explicitly encountered.
Administrative agencies of various kinds exist alongside the courts in nearly every country. Some do substantially the same kind of work as is done by courts and in substantially the same manner; others, however, have quite different functions.