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Legal System

Short Description

A Legal System is a system in which rules are defined (legislature) and a mechanism for their enforcement is implicitly or explicitly defined (executive), as well as a mechanism for conflict resolution (judiciary). A legal system is designed and governed by a single party. A legal system can be operationalized by assigning it a scope within which enforcement and conflict resolution are implemented. The associated operational tasks may be mandated or delegated to other parties. Depending on the individual legal system, 'rules' may be called 'laws', 'regulations', 'directives', 'policies', 'working instructions', etc. Other terms exist for specializations of these terms, e.g. 'order', 'mandate', and others.

The Jurisdictions pattern provides an overview of how this concept fits in with related concepts.


The ability to distinguish between (non)legal-systems is a very generic enabler to tell which rules (laws, policies, guidelines, etc.) will apply within its scope, as well as to evaluate the risks that we run when not complying with the rules. Conversely, the party that operates a legal system may provide additional rules to help mitigate such risks.


A system in which rules are defined (legislature), can be enforced (executive), and a mechanism is defined to resolve conflicts (judiciary).


  • many nations have their own legal system (see e.g. WikiPedia)
  • enterprises typically have at least one legal system, with policies or working instructions as their rules.
  • multi-nationals, NGOs etc. typically have multiple legal systems that are to be operated in different scopes where such operations are subject to other, often legal jurisdictions.
  • all sorts of associations, societies, clubs, unions would qualify as a jurisdiction.
  • families have a legal system, where the rules may or may not change regularly, enforcement may not always be consistent, and conflict resolution may be ad-hoc.
  • individual people can be said to have a legal system of their own, containing e.g. rules for ethics and morals.