Meaning and Components of a Legal System
Copyright © 2001 Leesi Ebenezer Mitee in Nigerian Legal System: A Fundamental Approach, Volume I, page 25
A legal system may be defined as “the entire organised structure or framework which determines and defines the body of laws, rules and regulations applicable in a particular political entity, and creates the machinery and institutions for the administration, dispensation and enforcement of justice therein.” From the foregoing definition, it is obvious that legal systems differ from one sovereign State to the other. Thus, different legal systems exist, for instance, in the United States of America, Britain, Nigeria, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Australia.
A Legal system, like other systems, has several components, which include the following:
- the totality of extant laws, rules, and regulations enacted by the legislature; prevailing organic customs; and judicial precedents developed by the courts;
- the judicial machinery by which courts settle disputes and define the rights and duties of legal persons;
- rules and regulations governing the Legal profession, especially the educational/professional training, and practice of Lawyers;
- the machinery for maintenance and enforcement of law and order in the society, e.g. the police force; and
- institutions for the punishment and rehabilitation of adjudged criminal offenders, e.g. prisons, Borstal institutions, children’s approved schools or reformatories, and lunatic asylums.
Leesi Ebenezer Mitee, Nigerian Legal System: A Fundamental Approach, Vol 1 (Ebenezer Printing & Publishing House 2001) 25