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The Rules of Law

These few simple rules sum up the world of law.

The law is simply the sum of all rules-constitutional provisions and the statutes of all governmental units: federal, state, county, and city. The law also includes judicial decisions interpreting the constitutions and statutes that govern our social and economic intercourse. It exists to secure the peace, order, and dignity in society. Laws exist to guide human conduct. Because the people who write the statutes have the impossible task of trying to identify and define human activity, which is limited only by the number of people in a society, these guidelines cannot apply clearly to every situation.

The Judge Rules: The Law of Your Case

The process of reaching a decision in a trial is simply deciding what a law means to the people in a single set of circumstances. In reaching this opinion, a judge or jury weighs what has been decided before in similar cases. The goal is to apply the law uniformly, and therefore fairly, to everyone. The decision of a judge or the verdict from a jury is what you get at the end of a trial. This decision declares that on that day, your rights are specifically established against your opponent, based on what you have convinced the judge or jury with regards to the facts of your case, and the law as the judge or jury understands it.

Although extreme human behavior is fodder for television talk shows and tabloid magazines, the range of human conduct fortunately does not often approach the extremes. So unless your case is unusual, the laws that govern your immediate legal problem have been long established and uniformly applied. Still, this is the real world and, ultimately, the law that is applicable to your case will be what the judge says it is. You have no choice but to assume that he or she knows it. When you point out all the reasons why you should win, if your argument makes sense and your facts are straight, the law will be applied in your favor. Don't worry about the marginal likelihood that the judge may not know what he or she is doing. Just get your facts straight and be as thorough as you can.

Here are some rules that can apply to countless everyday situations. One or more of these may apply to your case, and can provide you with guidance as to your legal claim. If the rule, when fairly applied, is not in your favor, it will still give you a more accurate view of the value of your case.

27 Rules You Can Use

  1. If you get something of value, such as a place to live or the fruit of another's labor, you should pay for it.

  2. Unless you are prevented from reading a document, and you sign it, you will be bound by what it says.

  3. If you hurt a person or damage his or her property, you should pay for the injuries or damage.

  4. Keep your promises.

  5. You don't buy things to throw them in the trash bin. If you pay for something, you are entitled to get a useful value for your money.

  6. There is no warranty on used goods unless the seller gives you one.

  7. "As is" means "as is." (Imagine that!)

  8. "Due by" means "due by." If you promised a payment on the first, it is late on the second. There is no "grace period," even when a late fee is not due until a later date.

  9. Repair shops are not required to give warranties. They can still be held liable for work done negligently or intentionally wrong.

  10. Business owners have a duty to keep their business premises reasonably safe for their customers.

  11. Every person has a duty to act with that degree of care that is exercised by ordinarily prudent persons under the same or similar circumstances.

  12. A person of sound mind is presumed to intend the natural and probable consequences of his acts.

  13. An actual mistake cannot be the basis of a contract. You cannot form one if you are mistaken about its terms.

  14. Accident means that the occurrence was not the result of intent or negligence on anyone's part.

  15. An agent is a person who acts for another, the principal. A principal is liable for the acts of the agent for all acts the agent does within the scope of authority given to the agent.

  16. If someone knowingly and willfully assumes a risk of injury to his person or property, he cannot hold another person responsible for the consequences.

  17. You cannot complain about acts you consented to, as long as the consent is freely given, and not gotten by trickery.

  18. To find the meaning of a contract, the first and most important question is, "What was the intention of the parties?"

  19. A corporation is a distinct legal entity, separate from the people who own it and operate it.

  20. A person can be held liable for the foreseeable consequences of her acts or omissions.

  21. The fair market value of an item is the price it will bring when it is offered for sale by someone who doesn't have to sell it, and purchased by someone who wants it, but doesn't need it.

  22. Every citizen has a right to enjoy his property and the sanctity of his person. Any act of another which substantially interferes with that enjoyment is a tort.

  23. A sale consists of passing title from the seller to the buyer for a price.

  24. A contract that no sane man would make, and no honest man would take advantage of, is not enforceable.

  25. Words used in a contract bear their common meaning.

  26. A gift is complete when the giver intends to give it, it is delivered, and the recipient gets it.

  27. You deal with other people's property at your own risk.

The two rules that have the broadest application are number 4, "Keep your promises," which is the summation of all the law of contracts, and number 22, which summarizes all of tort law. If you carefully analyze your case in the light of these two principles of law, you should be able to fairly predict the outcome of your case at trial.

If you are ever in a law library, and feel awed by the number of thick and imposing books, the above is about all that is in there, said thousands of different ways, and applied to thousands of different case facts, each beginning with something gone wrong in the simple transactions encountered in daily life.

A court is a legal repair shop. Take your cause of action, your unique mixture of the facts and the law, to the courthouse seeking that your legal rights in your legal claim be adjusted in your favor. You will have your broken legal rights mended by showing the people there your specific problem, why you should win and what it will take to restore you from the injury of legal wrong.


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