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Law and Business
LAW 122
Joerg Wittenbrinck

12/7/2013 11:22:00 AM What is ethics?  ethics is critical, structured examination of how individuals and institutions should behave when their actions affect others  “critical”: it is about more than just describing existing patterns of behaviour  “structured”: it is about more than institutions, gut reactions; it is about providing reasoned arguments for why we should or should not behave certain ways Examples of Ethical Statements  “I stopped to help at the accident scene because it was the right thing to do”  “It is good to donate to charity”  “It’s wrong to lie to your customers”  “Taking advantage of someone’s weaknesses is unethical”  Is any of this conduct unethical and illegal? Ethical Reasoning  Ethics is most often easy – you were raised well, you do right thing most of time  Ethics becomes harder when important ethical values or principles conflict  Ethical judgments involves weighing competing values or principles – there is no formula for doing this  Right and wrong or bad .. good .. Best?  Sometimes there is a clear “right” answer, but sometimes there is not  Goal should be to think it through and provide good reasons for a better, rather than worse, course of action  If you make bad decision and asked about it, worst answer is to say you never thought about it Ethical Principles and Values  A great deal of ethical thinking can be summarized by following 4 kinds of ethical reasons:  Consequences: we should promote good consequences, avoid bad ones, for all concerned, in the long run  Fairness/justice: we should make sure that good and bad consequences are distributed fairly; we should pay our debts, treat like cases alike  Rights and duties: we should protect rights, perform duties; these are often “nearly absolute”  Character/virtue: we should consider what kind of people we want to be, and what example we want to set Ethical and Legal Reasoning  Ethical and legal reasoning share a lot in common:  Both involve reasoning about what it would be okay to do, or whether past behaviour was right or wrong (legally or ethically)  Both kinds of reasoning require understanding of relevant facts; appreciation of relevant principles; some consideration of precedent and analogy in order to achieve sufficient consistency of judgment Where do we see ethics in law:  In justification for legislation: ideally all legislation should be aimed at promoting ethical values and principles, including promotion of social well being, protection of individual rights (often stated in preamble)  In the reasoning of courts: at all levels, legal reasoning requires interpretation of laws and constitution, in light of fundamental values and principles; judges at all levels appeal to what is “fair” and “reasonable” and “just” Public Law  Public law concerned with governments and ways in which they deal with their citizens – matters of public concern  Public law includes: constitutional law; administrative law; criminal law; tax law  Constitutional law – provides basic rules of political and legal systems, determines who is entitled to create, enforce laws  Administrative law – to manage workload, governments regularly delegate or assign responsibilities to agencies, boards, commissions, tribunals; application to business – human rights tribunal decides if company discriminates against women by paying less than for men  Administrative Bodies affecting Business: federal – Competition Bureau, protects consumers; provincial/territorial – Professional Society, lawyers regulated by Law Society; municipal – Zoning and Planning Board, regulates use of land  Criminal law – deals with offences against state; person may have committed tort by doing something wrong personally by hitting other, but also constitutes wrong to entire community, hence a crime  Business crimes – examples are fraud, “white collar” crime stealing money belonging to company; company itself can be criminal, such as by rolling back odometers on vehicles; negligence at workplace by organization also subject of criminal offence  Tax law – various branches of government such as Parliament, administrative bodies, courts, require great deal of money to operate – tax law concerned with rules used to collect money for public spending; area of great interest for business Private Law  Private law concerned with rules that apply in private matters , matters of private concern – private individuals, corporations, may also apply to government as where municipal government carelessly omits to inspect home and foundation is defective, or where government enters into contract to purchase paper from store  Private law divided into three main parts: law of torts; law of contracts; law of property  Tort law - private wrong, offence against a person; three categories: intentional torts, eg., assault, false imprisonment; business torts, eg., deceit, conspiracy; negligence – covers most situations where person carelessly hurts another  Contract law – concerned with creation and enforcement of agreements; business based on transactions, law of contracts governs virtually every one of them: sale of goods (computers); use of negotiable instruments (cheques); real estate transactions (purchase of land); operation of corporations; employment relationship between business and its workers  Property law – concerned with acquisition, use and disposition of property, includes: real property (land, things attached to land); personal property (things that can be moved); intellectual property (original ideas, patents, copyrights); all three forms of property important in business, and other areas of
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