Major Components of Business Law

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Major Components of Business Law

The cornerstones of U.S. business law are contract law; sales law; the Uniform Commercial Code; negotiable instruments; property law; the law of bailment; agency law; tort law; bankruptcy law; patents, trademark and copyrights; and tax law.



The judiciaryor court system is the branch of government charged with deciding disputes among parties through application of laws. The judiciary is comprised of several types, or levels, or courts, each with a specific jurisdiction. Court systems are organized at the federal, state, or local levels. Administrative agencies also have some limited juridical functions, but these agencies are regarded more properly as belonging to the executive or legislative branches of government.

Trial Courts

At both federal and state levels, the trial court – a court of general jurisdiction – hears a wide range of cases. Unless a case is assigned by law to another court or to an administrative agency, a court of general jurisdiction is empowered to hear it. The majority of cases, both criminal and civil, are heard by these courts. Within the federal system, the trial courts are known a U.S. district courts, and at least one such court exists in each state. In state court system, the general jurisdiction courts usually are called circuit courts, and in most states there is one for each county. Some states call their general jurisdiction courts by other names, such as superior courts, common pleas courts, or district courts.

The state judiciary systems also include a wide range of courts lesser or more specific jurisdiction. These courts have limited jurisdiction in that they only a certain size or type of case, as set froth by statute or constitution. In most states, decisions of the lesser courts can be appealed to the general jurisdiction courts. Examples of lesser courts are probate courts (where diseased persons’ estate are settled) and small claims courts (where people can represent themselves in suits involving limited amounts of damage).

Appellate Courts

Appeals from general trial courts are heard by an appellate court, a process that allows a bigger court to review the case and correct any lower-court error complained of by the appellant, the party making the appeal. Both the federal and state systems have appellate courts. An appeal usually is filled when the loosing party feels that the case was decided wrongly by the judge or jury. The federal appeal system, together with those of most states, consists of two tiers of courts. Federal courts at the intermediate level are called U.S. circuit courts of appeal, which hear appeals from the U.S. district courts. The intermediate level of state appellate courts – if it exists – is known as the court of appeals, or the district court of appeals, in most states.

Appeals from the circuit courts of appeals can go to the nation’s highest court, the U.S. Supreme Court. Appeals from the state court of appeals are heard by the highest court in each state, usually called the state supreme court. In states without intermediate courts, the state supreme court hears appeals directly from the trial courts. Parties not satisfied by the verdict of a state Supreme Court can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Appeals and may be granted a hearing if grounds for such an appeal exist, and if the Supreme Court considers the case significant enough to be heard.

While the great majority of cases are resolved by the system of courts described here, certain highly specialized cases require particular expertise. Such cases are assigned to special courts by constitutional provisions or statutes. Examples of specialized federal courts are the U.S. Tax court (for tax cases) and the U.S. Court of Claims (where hears claims against the U.S. government itself). Similar specialized courts exist at the state level.

Administrative Agencies

Administrative agenciesalso known as bureaus, commissions, or boards, exist at all levels of government to decide a variety of cases. The powers and responsibilities sometimes are derived from constitutional provisions, but usually they come from state or federal statutes. Technically, they conduct hearings or inquiries rather than trials. The opposing parties often are represented by attorneys, evidence and testimony are included, and the agency issues legally binding decisions based on the regulations involved. Examples of federal administrative agencies with extensive powers are the Federal Trade Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Examples at the state level include public utility commissions and boards that govern the licensing of various trades and professions. At the city or county level are zoning boards, planning commissions, and boards of appeal.

(Based on: Kurtz D., Boone L., Boone and Kurtz Business)

III. Read and translate this abstract from English into Russian and be ready for its discussion on the basis of active vocabulary, key terms quiz, review and discussion questions.

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