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Basic Legal Principles
Our legal system has several fundamental principles that may not always be apparent, but they do serve as the foundation for some aspects of the law. This page introduces several of those principles.
Disclosure -- our legal system does not make decisions for individuals, but it does take steps to assure individuals have access to information so they can make an informed decision. It is common for the law to assure access to information by requiring others, in specified circumstances, to reveal or disclose information they may have that the decision maker may need to make an informed decision. The following list offers some examples.
In these examples, the law does not make the decision but instead takes steps to assure the decision maker has information with which to make the decision.
Transferability -- our legal system assumes that society is best served if our resources are put to their best/highest value use (without abusing them) and that their transferrability is the best way to assure they will be put to their best/highest value use. That is, if you think you can put my property to a good use, make me an offer. If the value you offer me is more than the value I think I will receive from continuing to own the property, I may sell to you. Also, your offer will be no more than what you value the property. Thus if your offer is enough to motivate me to sell to you, we have to assume the property is being shifted to a higher value use. But this determination is being made in the marketplace; not by government.
Act like an owner -- our legal system expects property owners to fulfill their role as owner by acting like an owner; and if they do not fulfill that role, our law may not preserve their ownership rights.
The law is ascertainable and predictable -- the legal outcome of a situation or fact pattern should be predictable. For example, if I enter into a contract and then do not fulfill my obligations under the contract, I will be required to compensate the other party to the contract for the loss I caused them by not fulfilling my contractual obligations. This outcome is known and understood by both of us before we enter into the contract, and thus is expected to be part of our thought process in deciding whether to enter into the contract. Also, everyone has access to the laws; they are public information and available for anyone to read. The rules (laws) of our society are not secret.
We place more value on life than we do on property -- if the choice is between injuring a person or damaging (protecting) property, the law generally expects us to not injure a person.
Last updated July 25, 2006
This material is intended for educational purposes
only. It is not a substitute for competent legal counsel. Seek appropriate
professional advice for answers to your specific questions.
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