Private law in the Kingdom of Washingtonia is one of the four basic subgroups of the Washingtonian legal system, along with criminal law, administrative law and constitutional law. It is further an umbrella to a host of other subgroups within law. They are, among other things -
- Family law
- Contract law
- Company law
- Succession law
- Environmental law
- Labor law
- Tort law
Private law overlaps with the legal groups. For example, the Bill of Rights in the Constitution regulates many aspects of what would be considered part of private law today. Administrative legislation, officially part of administrative law, can regulate and influence many elements of the private law, such as labor law and environmental law.
Marriage, in terms of Washingtonian private law, takes much of its inspiration from the Christian Bible (it being an official source of law per section 1 of the Constitution and Peters vs. The Throne, 02-1942 CC) and the remainder from the American and French legal systems respectively. Only heterosexual marriages and unions are recognized to be valid while both homosexual marriage and activities are illegal, with perpetrators subject to fines or community service.
Marriage is regarded as a lifelong bond, thus divorce is completely discouraged by the government and churches. Divorce, however, remains legal and are handled in the Family Court. The Marriages Act of 1959 regulates marriage besides its biblical element and all marriages are registered in terms of that act. Foreign marriages are recognized to the extent that they are Christian and heterosexual. People with a different faith, as protected by the Constitution, may enter into civil unions, and acquire much of the same rights as normal married couples.
Divorce in Washingtonian law is a controversial issue given the Bible's many scriptures about the matter. The Court of Appeals, as the current highest precedent, ruled in James vs. James, 27-1973 A that the courts must give more weight to New Testament scripture than to that of the Old Testament. In James, the Court considered notably the following passages:
- Matthew 5:32: "But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."
- Romans 7:2: "For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage."
- Deuteronomy 24:1-4: "When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give in her hand, and send her out of his house."
The Court decided that because of the ambiguity caused especially by Deuteronomy 24:1-4, divorce must be legal in the Kingdom, however, strictly regulated. Taking Romans 7:2 into account, death resulted in automatic divorce; taking Matthew 5:32 into account, an action for divorce would almost universally be granted for adultery for another proved form of "sexual immorality"; and taking Deuteronomy into account, a person must prove on a balance of probabilities that some form of "uncleanness" has resulted in the marriage. The "uncleanness" is a wide term which has resulted in divorce being granted almost universally. The Bible's male-orientated approach in all passages, as stated by the Court, held weight, however, recommended that the Grand Assembly intervene and secularize the provisions to apply to females as well. The Marriages Act was subsequently amended, adding the judgement as well as neutralizing gender provisions.
Conservative groups have alleged this ruling and amendment are both unconstitutional per Section 2 of Chapter 1, and per the earlier Ex parte FEDERAL, 02-1971 CC ruling, in which the Constitutional Court held that the framers of the Constitution intended a patriarchal society as per Christian values. The decision of James, however, has never been appealed past the Court of Appeals.
Defamation is a tort in Washingtonia, and thus part of private law. It encompasses both slander and libel. It is codified and regulated almost entirely by the Defamation and Personal Damage Act, with the Constitutional Court case Arbor vs. Matteos, 12-1998 CC being the principal case law. In Arbor, the Constitutional Court held that the constitutional right to free speech is limited when it comes to defamation, and that any remark that can be viewed as offensive by the target of the remark, are only allowed when what is said is true and that it is in the national interest that such information be public. This ruling was subsequently legislated into the aforementioned Act, known simply as the Defamation Act.
|Law of Washingtonia|
|Core subjects||Constitutional law | Administrative law | Private law | Criminal law|
|Further reading||Human and civil rights | Royal prerogative | Legal profession|
|Legislation||Acts of the Grand Washingtonian Assembly (Top/Chr)|
|Precedent||Court of Appeals cases | Supreme Court cases | Const Court cases|
|Decrees and orders||Royal decrees | Executive orders|