Legal matters are an unavoidable aspect in our day to day life. Many are not aware that their actions have been derived by law at some point. To appreciate this fact it is essential to understand what laws are.
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Law can be defined as a system of rules and regulations that is set as a framework to guide and regulate behavior of people. It allows the society to function properly by securing justice and peace among the many individuals. One important feature of law is that everyone is identified as having equal rights. “No one is above the law” is the quote that supports this. “Ignorantia legis neminem excusat” is also a well heard Latin maxim which relates to law. It translates as “Ignorance of the law is not a defense”. This implies that a person that has committed an act of wrong cannot claim unawareness to avoid liability. It is therefore assumed that any individual taking part in what is outside the activities of a normal person is aware of what they are doing. The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has increased over the past several years mainly as a result of interconnection of environments. The government of Sri Lanka has actively promoted ICT usage in all the sectors of the economy. As a result the ICT literacy in the country has increased from 9% to 19% in four years. However this increase in usage also came with a price as the number of reporting of abuse and misuse also increased dramatically. For example in 2008, 49 incidents were reported to the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Response Team (CIRT) but only four in 2007. Laws laid down related to ICT helps the Information Technology (IT) professionals to engage in their practice ethically as law abiding citizens .
As civilization began to expand and human behavior became more complex the law system evolved with it. Different branches of law emerged to handle the different areas of human behavior. Most of the laws within a country can be classified with reference to what it hopes to achieve. However topics such as Public law, Private law, Civil law, Criminal law and Contract law etc. cannot be restricted to one area. Criminal and Civil are the two broad classifications of law. The following table depicts their features.
Deals with disputes between private parties. It is a deliberate or reckless act that causes harm to another person or property. Cases must be proven on a “balance of probabilities” if it is more likely than not that the defendant caused harm or loss. To convict someone of a crime, the prosecution must show there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
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