United States today is looked at as a law full of law suits. The famous case of McDonalds getting sued for not writing a warning for hot coffee being hot is still talked amongst people all over the world today. People make jokes at every situation that might be possibly end up being a lawsuit. With all these fact, it might even seem like the United States is the heart and home of the laws and rights. But where did laws originate from? Who first said you cannot steel from others without consequences?
The development of law is closely related to development of human civilization. Civil codes are written when a steady civilization is created. The oldest civil codes can be dated back to 3000BC in Ancient Egypt. The code is based on social equality and impartiality. The oldest known tablet containing a law code that is surviving today is The Code of Ur-Nammu. It was written in 2100BC in Sumerian language. The laws written in the code is arranged by if-then pattern. It was quite advanced because it institutes fines of monetary compensation for bodily damage than eye for an eye principle except for capital crimes such as murder, adultery and rape which are punished with death.
Around 1760Bc, King Hammurabi further developed Babylonian law, where eye for an eye is exercised, by codifying and inscribing it in stones and placing in several copies throughout the kingdom of Babylon as stele for the entire public, both citizen and visitors, to see. Though some of the codes might be applicable to today’s laws, the cultures of the Babylonian age can be observed from the tablets. The Old Testament of the bible is probably the oldest written law that can still be relevant for modern legal laws. Dating back to 1280BC, it takes the form of moral imperatives to make a better society.
In Asia, Ancient India and China represent distinct traditions of law. They even had independent schools for legal theory and practice. The Indian law was not exactly a law, but a way to rule and govern with the philosophy that went with tolerance and Pluralism, and was eventually cited across Southeast Asia. The Indian law, with Hindu tradition along with Islamic law, was affected by the common law when India became part of the British Empire. Along with India, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Hong Kong were affected as well. Though the Asian legal tradition reflects a blend of secular and religious influences, massive transformation took place with the adaptation of the common European law. Japan was the first country to westernize their law, probably affected by the German Law.
Today, in most advanced countries, the act of judging according to the law is taken care of in courts. It is typically overseen by either a government or independent regulating body such as association for a certain organization or a law society. Lawyers are often higher to represent the person or people in courts and give advice about legal rights and duties. In some countries the Judge decides the case and in others, a group of juries, made up of common citizens, make up the decision.
Whether it be cruel punishment or a monetary compensation, law has been existing for a while, but we all must keep in thought that it is made not to punish us but to protect us.