Regulating business relationships is critical from both individual and organization perspectives. In this regard, business organizations are subjected to various categories of the law. Criminal and civil laws are the most notable classifications (Mann, 1992, p. 1797). Understanding criminal law and civil law in terms of principles, application, and differences, has been prioritized in this report.
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This category of law is associated with acts of crime against an individual or the public. Acts of treason or felony are classified under the law of crime. Also, a misdemeanor leading to a death penalty or imprisonment is categorized under criminal law. Criminal law perceives immoral acts of rape, arson, and infringement to property rights as unethical and punishable (Carsel & Bernstein 2013, p. 216).
Principles of criminal law
- Legality: An activity is considered to be unlawful if there is a criminal law prohibiting the same.
- Human conduct: Criminal law is applied if the accused is suspected of acts of commission or omission (Ashworth & Horder 2013, p. 106). In this regard, the act of commission results from activities that injure others. Acts of omission results from the negligence of what is expected to be done.
- Causation: A relationship between crime and harm must exist for criminal law to take effect.
- Harm: An act that causes harm in the form of suffering to an individual protected under the law is illegal. However, the harm should not be self-inflicting.
- Concurrence: A crime is committed when a suspect’s state of mind is conscious of the intent and consequences of criminal actions.
- Guilty mind: This principle is also referred to as ”men’s rea” and means that the intent to commit a crime must be evidenced (Ashworth & Horder 2013, p. 74). For example, an individual exhibits a sign of recklessness or indifference.
- Punishment: Criminal law has a punishment provision for individuals or organizations guilty of a crime.
Criminal law is applied in situations that require regulating relationships between citizens and the state. Criminal law prevents an individual and corporations from actions that negatively affect society. From this perspective, the state acts as the complainant against individual and corporate behaviors.
The U.S Department of Justice has a record of tax criminals imprisoned for violating business law. For example, a Texas businessman named Richard Simkanin was sentenced to 84 months imprisonment for withholding taxes from employees’ wages. Also, the businessman failed to file employee income tax returns and made false claims against the U.S government. Robbert Jobbour was sentenced to 10 years in a Florida prison for evading tax and trying to impede the Internal Revenue Service (U.S Department of Justice 2005, p.1).
A civil wrong is best described by the law of tort and breach of contract (Scalise Jr 2013, p. 723). When a business engages in contractual agreements, civil law takes effect. Civil wrongs are evidenced when one party does not honor the contract or violate the terms of the agreement through fraud and acts of omission. Sometimes, a civil wrong is established from a statement affecting the legal rights of the complainant. For example, a business company depicts a community or an individual in an unethical manner in one of its advertisements.
Principles of civil wrongs
- Harm: It is the injury an individual suffers from the negligence of another. Also, the scope of liability of the negligent person is associated with the harm in question.
- Responsibility of harm: This principle suggests that the courts use common law to determine and assign the defendant with the responsibility of causing civil damage (Zipursky 2002, p. 695). The court is obligated to state the defendant’s position about the scope of liability.
- Scope of liability: Under this principle, the court is assigned the duty of proving why a negligent party is responsible for the harm.
Civil wrongs are critical in harnessing business relationships as depicted in the law of contract. This concept is credited with the responsibility of providing a foundation to commercial laws, especially in banking, insurance, and bankruptcy. The law of contract dictates how parties should engage with each other.
In the case Poole against Smiths Car Sales (Balham Ltd) in 1962, the former left his car with the latter to find him a buyer. However, Smiths Car dealers did not find a buyer after three months. This prompted Poole to request for the return of his car to no avail. The court ruled that Smith Car dealers pay Poole since a lengthy time had lapsed. The above example is associated with the sale of goods or law of contract. In such a case, the Poole was not a manufacturer and did not have any knowledge of automobile goods. The dealer took advantage and assumed a legal transfer for a long period (Adams 2005, p. 559).
In criminal law, prosecution of a suspect takes place in the courts. On the other hand, a civil case does not involve suing a criminal suspect but a defendant. From this perspective, civil wrongs are not addressed in criminal courts. For a criminal suit to proceed, proofing a case beyond a reasonable doubt is required. On the other hand, civil cases are determined using a balance of probabilities.
Regulating business relations is a legal function irrespective of whether criminal and civil laws are applied. Criminal law deters illegal activities by corporations and individuals. Criminal law ensures the society does not suffer from selfish and irresponsible business activities. The same applies to how business corporations and employers treat their employees. This means that civil law exists to ensure business activities and relationships follow legal and ethical principles as environed in a contract.
Adams, A 2004, Law for business students, Longman, London. Web.
Ashworth, A & Horder, J 2013, Principles of criminal law, Oxford University Press, Oxford. Web.
Cassel, E & Bernstein, D A 2013, Criminal behavior. Psychology Press, East Sussex. Web.
Mann, K 1992, ‘Punitive civil sanctions: The middle ground between criminal and civil law’, Yale Law Journal, Vol. 101, No. 8. pp. 1795-1873. Web.
Scalise Jr, R J 2007, ‘Why no” efficient breach” in the Civil Law? A comparative assessment of the doctrine of efficient breach of contract’, The American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 55, No. 4. pp. 721-766. Web.
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U.S Department of Justice 2005, Press release: defendant sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in tax evasion scheme. Web.
Zipursky, B 2002, ‘Civil recourse, not corrective justice’, Georgetown Law Journal, vol. 91, pp. 695. Web.