Legal Assignment: Everything You Need to Know

A legal assignment occurs when a party assigns their contractual rights to a third party. 3 min read updated on February 01, 2023

A legal assignment occurs when a party assigns their contractual rights to a third party. The benefit that the issuing party would have received from the contract is now assigned to the third party. The party appointing their rights is referred to as the assignor, while the party obtaining the rights is the assignee.

Assignment of Contract

A legal assignment occurs when:

  • The rights in personal or real property are transferred from one party to another
  • The transfer also gives the new owner the rights to the property that the prior owner held prior to the transfer occurring

In the Purman Estate case, the court stated that a legal assignment is a transfer of property, or of some right or interest, from one person to another. It also stated that it must be the proper transfer of one whole interest in that property.

An assignment of rights occurs when an assignor gives up or transfers their rights of a future benefit to another party. In other words, an assignment is the act of one party transferring, vesting, or causing to vest their interest in a property to another party. A valid legal assignment only occurs when all underlying elements of a lawfully binding contract are included in it, including intent. A trial court can determine if an assignment has occurred. To prevent disputes or miscommunications, it's important that the subject matter is clearly identified in the assignment.

A contract assignment occurs when a party assigns their contractual rights to a third party. The benefit the issuing party would have received from the contract is now assigned to the third party. The party appointing their rights is referred to as the assignor, while the party obtaining the rights is the assignee. Essentially, the assignor prefers that the assignee reverses roles and assumes the contractual rights and obligations as stated in the contract. Before this can occur, all parties to the original contract must be notified.

How Assignments Work

The specific language used in the contract will determine how the assignment plays out. For example , one contract may prohibit assignment, while another contract may require that all parties involved agree to it before proceeding. Remember, an assignment of contract does not necessarily alleviate an assignor from all liability. Many contracts include an assurance clause guaranteeing performance. In other words, the initial parties to the contract guarantee that the assignee will achieve the desired goal.

When Assignments Will Not Be Enforced

The following situations indicate when an assignment of a contract is not enforced:

  • The contract specifically prohibits assignment
  • The assignment drastically changes the expected outcome
  • The assignment is against public policy or illegal

Delegation vs. Assignment

Occasionally, one party in a contract will desire to pass on or delegate their responsibility to a third party without creating an assignment contract. Some duties are so specific in nature that they cannot be delegated. Adding a clause in the contract to prevent a party from delegating their responsibilities and duties is highly recommended.

Three Steps to Follow if You Want to Assign a Contract

There are three main steps to take if you're looking to assign a contract:

  • Make sure the current contract does not contain an anti-assignment clause
  • Officially execute the assignment by transferring the parties' obligations and rights
  • Notify the obligor of the changes made

Once the obligor is notified, the assignor will effectively be relieved of liability.

Anti-Assignment Clauses

If you'd prefer not to allow the party you're doing business with to assign a contract, you may be able to prevent this from occurring by clearly stating anti-assignment clauses in the original contract. The three most common anti-assignment clauses are:

  • Consent required for assignment
  • Consent not needed for new owners or affiliates
  • Consent not unreasonably withheld

Based on these three clauses, no party in the contract is allowed to delegate or assign any obligations or rights without prior written consent from the other parties. Any delegation or assignment in violation of this passage shall be deemed void. It is not possible to write an anti-assignment clause that goes against an assignment that is issued or ordered by a court.

If you need help with a legal assignment, you can  post your job  on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb. 

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UK – Legal Terms Explained: Assignment.

April 18, 2023 by Rohin Pujari

What is assignment?

An assignment is the transfer of an interest from one party (“ assignor ”) to another (“ assignee ”). Assignment allows the assignor to transfer the benefit of a contract to the assignee. For example, the tenant of recently built office premises may transfer the benefit of a collateral warranty originally granted in its favour to a subsequent tenant.

Without express words, assignment usually involves an assignment of accrued and future rights. Clear words are required to assign only future rights under a contract ( Energy Works (Hull) Ltd v MW High Tech Projects UK and others  [2020] EWHC 2537 (TCC)).

Assignment in a construction context typically refers to a legal or equitable assignment (although assignment can also occur by other means, e.g. operation of law). A key difference between legal and equitable assignments is that, in the case of a legal assignment, the assignee may enforce any assigned rights in its own name. In contrast, following an equitable assignment, the assignee would need to join the assignor in any action brought to enforce its rights.

To take effect as a legal assignment under English law, an assignment must comply with section 136(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925 (“ LPA 1925 “). This requires the assignment to be: (i) in writing; (ii) absolute; and (iii) expressly notified in writing to the other party to the contract (“ debtor “). In practice, parties tend to effect a legal assignment by way of an assignment agreement or deed of assignment to ensure that these requirements are satisfied.

However, if the parties fail to meet any of the requirements set out in LPA 1925 the assignment will usually have equitable effect. Equitable assignments may arise orally or in writing, and whilst recommended, there is no need to notify the debtor, provided a clear intention to assign can be established. Neither legal nor equitable assignments generally require the debtor’s consent.

  Assignment v novation

Although both terms are sometimes used interchangeably, assignment should be distinguished from novation. The most notable difference is that assignment only transfers the benefit of a contract (e.g. a warranty that works have been carried out to the required standard), whereas a novation transfers both the benefit and the burden (e.g. an obligation to pay for a service). As novation also requires the consent of all parties, it will typically be effected by a tripartite agreement between the novating party, the party to whom the contract is to be novated, and the counterparty to the relevant contract.

  Some issues concerning assignment

  • Restrictions on assignment  – Unless there is an express prohibition in the contract, the parties will usually be free to assign the benefit of a contract. However, many standard form building contracts, including the JCT Design and Build Contract, prohibit assignment, or allow it only subject to certain conditions. In this regard, a developer may seek to amend the contract to reduce any restrictions on their ability to assign. In contrast, a contractor may seek to limit any rights to assign, for example by specifying the number of permitted assignments. This is often linked to the contractor’s professional indemnity insurance terms which may provide for restricted cover in respect of successive assignments.
  • Ineffective assignment where prohibited  – If a party purports to assign a right in contravention of an assignment clause, the assignment will only be effective as between the assignee and the assignor, and will not be enforceable against the debtor.
  • Means of assignment  – A clause in a contract permitting assignment is not sufficient to effect an assignment. There must be a separate document or oral agreement to show the assignor’s intention to assign ( Allied Carpets Group Plc v Macfarlane (t/a Whicheloe Macfarlane Partnership)  [2002] EWHC 1155 (TCC)).

* This is an updated version of an article originally published as part of the ‘Legal Terms Explained’ series of  Construction Law .

For further information, please contact:

James Doe , Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills

[email protected]

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The Law of Assignment (3rd Edition)

Marcus smith, nico leslie.

This book is the leading text on the law relating to intangible property or choses in action. Its clear and approachable structure covers all forms of intangible property (debts, rights under contract, securities, intellectual property, leases, rights/causes of action, and equitable rights), considering the nature of intangible property, how it comes into being, and how it is transferred or assigned. The first part of the book analyses the general principles regarding intangibles and their transfer, and the second examines the practical considerations relating to particular types of intangibles, securities, insurance contracts, leases, and intellectual property under the law. This new edition includes new chapters on powers of attorney and factoring, areas particularly important to legal practice. Other significant developments include the expansion of the chapter on leases to include leasing of chattels, and more material on securities, especially regarding the operation of settlement systems.

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Affiliations are at time of print publication..

Marcus Smith, author

Nico Leslie, author

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  • Foreword to The Third Edition
  • Foreword to the Second Edition
  • Foreword to the First Edition
  • Preface to The Third Edition
  • Preface to the First Edition
  • Summary Contents
  • Detailed Contents
  • Table of Cases
  • Statutory Instruments
  • Netherlands
  • United States
  • Conventions
  • Regulations
  • International Conventions
  • List of References
  • List of Authority Abbreviations
  • Preliminary Material
  • Part III.01
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  • assignments basic law

Assignments: The Basic Law

The assignment of a right or obligation is a common contractual event under the law and the right to assign (or prohibition against assignments) is found in the majority of agreements, leases and business structural documents created in the United States.

As with many terms commonly used, people are familiar with the term but often are not aware or fully aware of what the terms entail. The concept of assignment of rights and obligations is one of those simple concepts with wide ranging ramifications in the contractual and business context and the law imposes severe restrictions on the validity and effect of assignment in many instances. Clear contractual provisions concerning assignments and rights should be in every document and structure created and this article will outline why such drafting is essential for the creation of appropriate and effective contracts and structures.

The reader should first read the article on Limited Liability Entities in the United States and Contracts since the information in those articles will be assumed in this article.

Basic Definitions and Concepts:

An assignment is the transfer of rights held by one party called the “assignor” to another party called the “assignee.” The legal nature of the assignment and the contractual terms of the agreement between the parties determines some additional rights and liabilities that accompany the assignment. The assignment of rights under a contract usually completely transfers the rights to the assignee to receive the benefits accruing under the contract. Ordinarily, the term assignment is limited to the transfer of rights that are intangible, like contractual rights and rights connected with property. Merchants Service Co. v. Small Claims Court , 35 Cal. 2d 109, 113-114 (Cal. 1950).

An assignment will generally be permitted under the law unless there is an express prohibition against assignment in the underlying contract or lease. Where assignments are permitted, the assignor need not consult the other party to the contract but may merely assign the rights at that time. However, an assignment cannot have any adverse effect on the duties of the other party to the contract, nor can it diminish the chance of the other party receiving complete performance. The assignor normally remains liable unless there is an agreement to the contrary by the other party to the contract.

The effect of a valid assignment is to remove privity between the assignor and the obligor and create privity between the obligor and the assignee. Privity is usually defined as a direct and immediate contractual relationship. See Merchants case above.

Further, for the assignment to be effective in most jurisdictions, it must occur in the present. One does not normally assign a future right; the assignment vests immediate rights and obligations.

No specific language is required to create an assignment so long as the assignor makes clear his/her intent to assign identified contractual rights to the assignee. Since expensive litigation can erupt from ambiguous or vague language, obtaining the correct verbiage is vital. An agreement must manifest the intent to transfer rights and can either be oral or in writing and the rights assigned must be certain.

Note that an assignment of an interest is the transfer of some identifiable property, claim, or right from the assignor to the assignee. The assignment operates to transfer to the assignee all of the rights, title, or interest of the assignor in the thing assigned. A transfer of all rights, title, and interests conveys everything that the assignor owned in the thing assigned and the assignee stands in the shoes of the assignor. Knott v. McDonald’s Corp ., 985 F. Supp. 1222 (N.D. Cal. 1997)

The parties must intend to effectuate an assignment at the time of the transfer, although no particular language or procedure is necessary. As long ago as the case of National Reserve Co. v. Metropolitan Trust Co ., 17 Cal. 2d 827 (Cal. 1941), the court held that in determining what rights or interests pass under an assignment, the intention of the parties as manifested in the instrument is controlling.

The intent of the parties to an assignment is a question of fact to be derived not only from the instrument executed by the parties but also from the surrounding circumstances. When there is no writing to evidence the intention to transfer some identifiable property, claim, or right, it is necessary to scrutinize the surrounding circumstances and parties’ acts to ascertain their intentions. Strosberg v. Brauvin Realty Servs., 295 Ill. App. 3d 17 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 1998)

The general rule applicable to assignments of choses in action is that an assignment, unless there is a contract to the contrary, carries with it all securities held by the assignor as collateral to the claim and all rights incidental thereto and vests in the assignee the equitable title to such collateral securities and incidental rights. An unqualified assignment of a contract or chose in action, however, with no indication of the intent of the parties, vests in the assignee the assigned contract or chose and all rights and remedies incidental thereto.

More examples: In Strosberg v. Brauvin Realty Servs ., 295 Ill. App. 3d 17 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 1998), the court held that the assignee of a party to a subordination agreement is entitled to the benefits and is subject to the burdens of the agreement. In Florida E. C. R. Co. v. Eno , 99 Fla. 887 (Fla. 1930), the court held that the mere assignment of all sums due in and of itself creates no different or other liability of the owner to the assignee than that which existed from the owner to the assignor.

And note that even though an assignment vests in the assignee all rights, remedies, and contingent benefits which are incidental to the thing assigned, those which are personal to the assignor and for his sole benefit are not assigned. Rasp v. Hidden Valley Lake, Inc ., 519 N.E.2d 153, 158 (Ind. Ct. App. 1988). Thus, if the underlying agreement provides that a service can only be provided to X, X cannot assign that right to Y.

Novation Compared to Assignment:

Although the difference between a novation and an assignment may appear narrow, it is an essential one. “Novation is a act whereby one party transfers all its obligations and benefits under a contract to a third party.” In a novation, a third party successfully substitutes the original party as a party to the contract. “When a contract is novated, the other contracting party must be left in the same position he was in prior to the novation being made.”

A sublease is the transfer when a tenant retains some right of reentry onto the leased premises. However, if the tenant transfers the entire leasehold estate, retaining no right of reentry or other reversionary interest, then the transfer is an assignment. The assignor is normally also removed from liability to the landlord only if the landlord consents or allowed that right in the lease. In a sublease, the original tenant is not released from the obligations of the original lease.

Equitable Assignments:

An equitable assignment is one in which one has a future interest and is not valid at law but valid in a court of equity. In National Bank of Republic v. United Sec. Life Ins. & Trust Co. , 17 App. D.C. 112 (D.C. Cir. 1900), the court held that to constitute an equitable assignment of a chose in action, the following has to occur generally: anything said written or done, in pursuance of an agreement and for valuable consideration, or in consideration of an antecedent debt, to place a chose in action or fund out of the control of the owner, and appropriate it to or in favor of another person, amounts to an equitable assignment. Thus, an agreement, between a debtor and a creditor, that the debt shall be paid out of a specific fund going to the debtor may operate as an equitable assignment.

In Egyptian Navigation Co. v. Baker Invs. Corp. , 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30804 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 14, 2008), the court stated that an equitable assignment occurs under English law when an assignor, with an intent to transfer his/her right to a chose in action, informs the assignee about the right so transferred.

An executory agreement or a declaration of trust are also equitable assignments if unenforceable as assignments by a court of law but enforceable by a court of equity exercising sound discretion according to the circumstances of the case. Since California combines courts of equity and courts of law, the same court would hear arguments as to whether an equitable assignment had occurred. Quite often, such relief is granted to avoid fraud or unjust enrichment.

Note that obtaining an assignment through fraudulent means invalidates the assignment. Fraud destroys the validity of everything into which it enters. It vitiates the most solemn contracts, documents, and even judgments. Walker v. Rich , 79 Cal. App. 139 (Cal. App. 1926). If an assignment is made with the fraudulent intent to delay, hinder, and defraud creditors, then it is void as fraudulent in fact. See our article on Transfers to Defraud Creditors .

But note that the motives that prompted an assignor to make the transfer will be considered as immaterial and will constitute no defense to an action by the assignee, if an assignment is considered as valid in all other respects.

Enforceability of Assignments:

Whether a right under a contract is capable of being transferred is determined by the law of the place where the contract was entered into. The validity and effect of an assignment is determined by the law of the place of assignment. The validity of an assignment of a contractual right is governed by the law of the state with the most significant relationship to the assignment and the parties.

In some jurisdictions, the traditional conflict of laws rules governing assignments has been rejected and the law of the place having the most significant contacts with the assignment applies. In Downs v. American Mut. Liability Ins. Co ., 14 N.Y.2d 266 (N.Y. 1964), a wife and her husband separated and the wife obtained a judgment of separation from the husband in New York. The judgment required the husband to pay a certain yearly sum to the wife. The husband assigned 50 percent of his future salary, wages, and earnings to the wife. The agreement authorized the employer to make such payments to the wife.

After the husband moved from New York, the wife learned that he was employed by an employer in Massachusetts. She sent the proper notice and demanded payment under the agreement. The employer refused and the wife brought an action for enforcement. The court observed that Massachusetts did not prohibit assignment of the husband’s wages. Moreover, Massachusetts law was not controlling because New York had the most significant relationship with the assignment. Therefore, the court ruled in favor of the wife.

Therefore, the validity of an assignment is determined by looking to the law of the forum with the most significant relationship to the assignment itself. To determine the applicable law of assignments, the court must look to the law of the state which is most significantly related to the principal issue before it.

Assignment of Contractual Rights:

Generally, the law allows the assignment of a contractual right unless the substitution of rights would materially change the duty of the obligor, materially increase the burden or risk imposed on the obligor by the contract, materially impair the chance of obtaining return performance, or materially reduce the value of the performance to the obligor. Restat 2d of Contracts, § 317(2)(a). This presumes that the underlying agreement is silent on the right to assign.

If the contract specifically precludes assignment, the contractual right is not assignable. Whether a contract is assignable is a matter of contractual intent and one must look to the language used by the parties to discern that intent.

In the absence of an express provision to the contrary, the rights and duties under a bilateral executory contract that does not involve personal skill, trust, or confidence may be assigned without the consent of the other party. But note that an assignment is invalid if it would materially alter the other party’s duties and responsibilities. Once an assignment is effective, the assignee stands in the shoes of the assignor and assumes all of assignor’s rights. Hence, after a valid assignment, the assignor’s right to performance is extinguished, transferred to assignee, and the assignee possesses the same rights, benefits, and remedies assignor once possessed. Robert Lamb Hart Planners & Architects v. Evergreen, Ltd. , 787 F. Supp. 753 (S.D. Ohio 1992).

On the other hand, an assignee’s right against the obligor is subject to “all of the limitations of the assignor’s right, all defenses thereto, and all set-offs and counterclaims which would have been available against the assignor had there been no assignment, provided that these defenses and set-offs are based on facts existing at the time of the assignment.” See Robert Lamb , case, above.

The power of the contract to restrict assignment is broad. Usually, contractual provisions that restrict assignment of the contract without the consent of the obligor are valid and enforceable, even when there is statutory authorization for the assignment. The restriction of the power to assign is often ineffective unless the restriction is expressly and precisely stated. Anti-assignment clauses are effective only if they contain clear, unambiguous language of prohibition. Anti-assignment clauses protect only the obligor and do not affect the transaction between the assignee and assignor.

Usually, a prohibition against the assignment of a contract does not prevent an assignment of the right to receive payments due, unless circumstances indicate the contrary. Moreover, the contracting parties cannot, by a mere non-assignment provision, prevent the effectual alienation of the right to money which becomes due under the contract.

A contract provision prohibiting or restricting an assignment may be waived, or a party may so act as to be estopped from objecting to the assignment, such as by effectively ratifying the assignment. The power to void an assignment made in violation of an anti-assignment clause may be waived either before or after the assignment. See our article on Contracts.

Noncompete Clauses and Assignments:

Of critical import to most buyers of businesses is the ability to ensure that key employees of the business being purchased cannot start a competing company. Some states strictly limit such clauses, some do allow them. California does restrict noncompete clauses, only allowing them under certain circumstances. A common question in those states that do allow them is whether such rights can be assigned to a new party, such as the buyer of the buyer.

A covenant not to compete, also called a non-competitive clause, is a formal agreement prohibiting one party from performing similar work or business within a designated area for a specified amount of time. This type of clause is generally included in contracts between employer and employee and contracts between buyer and seller of a business.

Many workers sign a covenant not to compete as part of the paperwork required for employment. It may be a separate document similar to a non-disclosure agreement, or buried within a number of other clauses in a contract. A covenant not to compete is generally legal and enforceable, although there are some exceptions and restrictions.

Whenever a company recruits skilled employees, it invests a significant amount of time and training. For example, it often takes years before a research chemist or a design engineer develops a workable knowledge of a company’s product line, including trade secrets and highly sensitive information. Once an employee gains this knowledge and experience, however, all sorts of things can happen. The employee could work for the company until retirement, accept a better offer from a competing company or start up his or her own business.

A covenant not to compete may cover a number of potential issues between employers and former employees. Many companies spend years developing a local base of customers or clients. It is important that this customer base not fall into the hands of local competitors. When an employee signs a covenant not to compete, he or she usually agrees not to use insider knowledge of the company’s customer base to disadvantage the company. The covenant not to compete often defines a broad geographical area considered off-limits to former employees, possibly tens or hundreds of miles.

Another area of concern covered by a covenant not to compete is a potential ‘brain drain’. Some high-level former employees may seek to recruit others from the same company to create new competition. Retention of employees, especially those with unique skills or proprietary knowledge, is vital for most companies, so a covenant not to compete may spell out definite restrictions on the hiring or recruiting of employees.

A covenant not to compete may also define a specific amount of time before a former employee can seek employment in a similar field. Many companies offer a substantial severance package to make sure former employees are financially solvent until the terms of the covenant not to compete have been met.

Because the use of a covenant not to compete can be controversial, a handful of states, including California, have largely banned this type of contractual language. The legal enforcement of these agreements falls on individual states, and many have sided with the employee during arbitration or litigation. A covenant not to compete must be reasonable and specific, with defined time periods and coverage areas. If the agreement gives the company too much power over former employees or is ambiguous, state courts may declare it to be overbroad and therefore unenforceable. In such case, the employee would be free to pursue any employment opportunity, including working for a direct competitor or starting up a new company of his or her own.

It has been held that an employee’s covenant not to compete is assignable where one business is transferred to another, that a merger does not constitute an assignment of a covenant not to compete, and that a covenant not to compete is enforceable by a successor to the employer where the assignment does not create an added burden of employment or other disadvantage to the employee. However, in some states such as Hawaii, it has also been held that a covenant not to compete is not assignable and under various statutes for various reasons that such covenants are not enforceable against an employee by a successor to the employer. Hawaii v. Gannett Pac. Corp. , 99 F. Supp. 2d 1241 (D. Haw. 1999)

It is vital to obtain the relevant law of the applicable state before drafting or attempting to enforce assignment rights in this particular area.

Conclusion:

In the current business world of fast changing structures, agreements, employees and projects, the ability to assign rights and obligations is essential to allow flexibility and adjustment to new situations. Conversely, the ability to hold a contracting party into the deal may be essential for the future of a party. Thus, the law of assignments and the restriction on same is a critical aspect of every agreement and every structure. This basic provision is often glanced at by the contracting parties, or scribbled into the deal at the last minute but can easily become the most vital part of the transaction.

As an example, one client of ours came into the office outraged that his co venturer on a sizable exporting agreement, who had excellent connections in Brazil, had elected to pursue another venture instead and assigned the agreement to a party unknown to our client and without the business contacts our client considered vital. When we examined the handwritten agreement our client had drafted in a restaurant in Sao Paolo, we discovered there was no restriction on assignment whatsoever…our client had not even considered that right when drafting the agreement after a full day of work.

One choses who one does business with carefully…to ensure that one’s choice remains the party on the other side of the contract, one must master the ability to negotiate proper assignment provisions.

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Assign is the act of transferring rights , property , or other benefits to another party (the assignee ) from the party who holds such benefits under contract (the assignor). This concept is used in both  contract  and property law . 

Contract Law  

Under contract law, when one party assigns a  contract , the assignment represents both: (1) an assignment of rights; and (2) a delegation of  duties . 

  • For example, if A contracts with B to teach B guitar for $50, A can assign this contract to C. 
  • Here, A has both: (1) assigned A’s rights under the contract to the $50; and (2) delegated A’s  duty  to teach guitar, to C. 
  • In this example, A is both the “assignor” and the “delegee” who delegates  the duties to another (C), C is known as the “ obligor ” who must perform the  obligations  to the  assignee , and B is the assignee who is owed duties and is liable to the obligor.

Assigning of Rights/Duties Under Contract Law

There are a few notable rules regarding assignments under contract law. 

First, if an individual has not yet secured the contract to perform duties to another, they cannot assign their future right to an assignee. 

  • That is, if A has not yet contracted with B to teach B guitar, A cannot assign their rights to C. 

Second, rights cannot be assigned when they  materially change the obligor’s duty and rights. 

Third, the obligor can sue the assignee directly if the assignee does not pay them. 

  • Following the previous example, this means that C ( obligor ) can sue B ( assignee ) if C teaches guitar to B, but B does not pay C $50 in return.

Delegation of Duties

If the promised performance requires a rare genius or skill, then the delegee cannot delegate it to the obligor. It can only be delegated if the promised  performance  is more commonplace. Further, an obligee can sue if the  assignee  does not perform.  However, the delegee is  secondarily liable  unless there has been an  express   release  of the delegee. 

  • Meaning if B does want C to teach guitar but C refuses to, then B can sue C. If C still refuses to perform, then B can compel A to fulfill the duties under secondary liability.

Lastly, a related concept is  novation , which is when a new obligor substitutes and releases an old obligor.  If novation occurs, then the original obligor’s duties are wiped out. Novation requires an original obligee’s  consent . 

Property Law

Under  property law , assignment typically arises in landlord-tenant situations.

  • For example, A might be renting from landlord B but wants another party (C) to take over the property. 
  • In this scenario, A might choose between  assigning  and  subleasing  the property to C. 
  • If  assigning , A would give C the entire balance of the term , with no reversion to anyone; whereas if  subleasing , A would give C the property for a limited period of the remaining term.
  • Under assignment, C would have  privity  of  estate  with the landlord while under a sublease, C would not. 

[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team ]

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English law assignments of part of a debt: Practical considerations

United Kingdom |  Publication |  December 2019

Enforcing partially assigned debts against the debtor

The increase of supply chain finance has driven an increased interest in parties considering the sale and purchase of parts of debts (as opposed to purchasing debts in their entirety).

While under English law part of a debt can be assigned, there is a general requirement that the relevant assignee joins the assignor to any proceedings against the debtor, which potentially impedes the assignee’s ability to enforce against the debtor efficiently.

This note considers whether this requirement may be dispensed with in certain circumstances.

Can you assign part of a debt?

Under English law, the beneficial ownership of part of a debt can be assigned, although the legal ownership cannot. 1  This means that an assignment of part of a debt will take effect as an equitable assignment instead of a legal assignment.

Joining the assignor to proceedings against the debtor

While both equitable and legal assignments are capable of removing the assigned asset from the insolvency estate of the assignor, failure to obtain a legal assignment and relying solely on an equitable assignment may require the assignee to join the relevant assignor as a party to any enforcement action against the debtor.

An assignee of part of a debt will want to be able to sue a debtor in its own name and, if it is required to join the assignor to proceedings against the debtor, this could add additional costs and delays if the assignor was unwilling to cooperate. 2

Kapoor v National Westminster Bank plc

English courts have, in recent years, been pragmatic in allowing an assignee of part of a debt to sue the debtor in its own name without the cooperation of the assignor.

In Charnesh Kapoor v National Westminster Bank plc, Kian Seng Tan 3 the court held that an equitable assignee of part of a debt is entitled in its own right and name to bring proceedings for the assigned debt. The equitable assignee will usually be required to join the assignor to the proceedings in order to ensure that the debtor is not exposed to double recovery, but the requirement is a procedural one that can be dispensed with by the court.

The reason for the requirement that an equitable assignee joins the assignor to proceedings against the debtor is not that the assignee has no right which it can assert independently, but that the debtor ought to be protected from the possibility of any further claim by the assignor who should therefore be bound by the judgment.

Application of Kapoor

It is a common feature of supply chain finance transactions that the assigned debt (or part of the debt) is supported by an independent payment undertaking. Such independent payment undertaking makes it clear that the debtor cannot raise defences and that it is required to pay the relevant debt (or part of a debt) without set-off or counterclaim. In respect of an assignee of part of an independent payment undertaking which is not disputed and has itself been equitably assigned to the assignee, we believe that there are good grounds that an English court would accept that the assignee is allowed to pursue an action directly against the debtor without needing the assignor to be joined, as this is likely to be a matter of procedure only, not substance.

This analysis is limited to English law and does not consider the laws of any other jurisdiction.

Notwithstanding the helpful clarifications summarised in Kapoor, as many receivables financing transactions involve a number of cross-border elements, assignees should continue to consider the effect of the laws (and, potentially court procedures) of any other relevant jurisdictions on the assignment of part of a debt even where the sale of such partial debt is completed under English law.

Legal title cannot be assigned in respect of part of a debt. A partial assignment would not satisfy the requirements for a legal assignment of section 136 of the Law of Property Act 1925.

If an assignor does not consent to being joined as a plaintiff in proceedings against the debtor it would be necessary to join the assignor as a co-defendant. However, where an assignor has gone into administration or liquidation, there may be a statutory prohibition on joining such assignor as a co-defendant (without the leave of the court or in certain circumstances the consent of the administrator).

[2011] EWCA Civ 1083

Tudor Plapcianu

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The Language Of Law: Concept And Specifics

Recognizing the current existence of legal linguistics as an independent interdisciplinary area of science, we highlight the problems existing in this field of knowledge, particularly related to inconsistent and fragmentary nature of studies, from both linguistic and legal points of view, lack of integrated approach as well as absence of unified and sufficient definitions of the investigated phenomena. Firstly, this may be attributed to the lack of specialized knowledge in the legal field, which linguists demonstrate by neglecting legal specifics of the customary language patterns, often focusing only on deficiencies contained in legal documents; secondly, legal experts, for their part, often consider only separate phenomena, not rising to the level of systemic studies and confining themselves for the most part to general reasoning on transparency and intelligibility of the language of law. The article contains a definition of the legal language, establishes its place in the language system as well as its relationship to other linguistic phenomena, including literary language, everyday language and professional language. The article suggests considering legal language in the narrow and the broad aspect. In the narrow sense the legal language may be compared to a professional language. In its broad sense the legal language includes professional legal language (i.e. the language used exclusively by the members of the corresponding profession) and unprofessional legal language (unrelated to the professional affiliation of speakers and addressees), since it may be used by non-lawyers. Keywords: Language of law legal language legal linguistics

Introduction

Presently one could consider legal linguistics as an independent interdisciplinary area of science. However, despite a rather significant volume of scientific works, sharing this subject, the terminology of this area of scientific research is quite unstable demonstrating inconsistency and lack of uniformity.

It should be noted, that currently the scientific area in question does not have a unified definition of the phenomenon we are interested in, just as there is no expressly accepted term for its designation: “language of law”, “legal language”, “lawyers’ language” – are among the terms that we encounter in academic literature. However, it is customary in legal science to distinguish between the terms “legal language” and “language of law”.

Problem Statement

Modern science is characterized by a large number of interdisciplinary research. So, the increasing interest of researchers is caused by questions arising at the intersection of law and linguistics. The first studies in this area were carried out at the beginning of the XIX century in Germany. However, attempts to create a unified approach were made only in the second half of the twentieth century. Since then, the issues of the interaction of language and law are regularly considered in the works of domestic and foreign jurists and linguists. Today we can talk about the existence of an independent interdisciplinary scientific field. At the same time, the process of forming a new field of science is accompanied by a number of difficulties: the instability of the terminological base, the ambiguity of its object, subject, tasks, methods, boundaries, etc. We believe that the existing conceptual apparatus is imperfect and requires clarification. It is also necessary to specify the key characteristics of the legal language.

Research Questions

Like most interdisciplinary research works, the studies in the area of legal linguistics are confronted by the challenge of use of terminology from the two sciences: law and linguistics. We believe the conceptual framework of linguistics to be the most appropriate for description of the legal language, since a linguistic phenomenon is impossible to describe without recurring to the science, which is focused on the language as a subject of study.

According to Kostromicheva ( 2007 ), this discipline, located in the transitory zone, “must equally pertain to the fields of linguistics and law. However, currently there is an apparent imbalance in favor of linguistics” (p. 57). The researcher notes that in the course of study of the matters situated at the interface between the language and law, the “pure” linguists reveal a high level of linguistic knowledge coupled with a lack of knowledge in the field of law ( Kostromicheva, 2007, p. 57 ). The linguists concentrate in their research on individual mistakes in the language of procedural acts and judicial discourse ( Zubarev, Statkus, & Krysin, 2017 ).

On the other hand, the studies initiated by legal scholars are often characterized with a too narrow a focus (separate research on terminology, language specifics of particular branches of law, forensic linguistics, etc.) lacking general systemic approach, which could be provided by linguistics. Moreover, such research works tend to include general reasoning on accuracy and transparency of the language.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to analyze the perspectives existing in legal linguistics in relation to definition of legal language and its place in the language system.

Research Methods

We achieved the established objectives using the dialectic method of inquiry complying with its requirements in relation to comprehensive and complete nature of study, exploration of a phenomenon in its development, interrelation and interdependence. Additionally, the following general scientific methods were used: scientific analysis (description, classification, and explanation), synthesis, deduction, abstraction and structural-functional method. With account for the subject of study, the following special methods of inquiry were used: formal-legal, formal-logical, systemic, statistical, historical and technical-legal analysis methods and others.

The scientists consider possible to distinguish two research lines within the field of legal linguistics. The first line is directly related to the study of different characteristics of the language of law. Whereas, the second one is oriented towards the matters of its legal regulation. Bossov ( 2009 ) conducted an analysis of the existing concepts in the field of legal texts, coming to the conclusion that all the studies may be conventionally divided into predominantly linguistic (including the texts dedicated to terminology and stylistics), strictly theoretical in nature, and, in contrast, those oriented to practical application, “aimed at enhancement of speech culture of lawyers or dedicated to the practical interpretation of particular terms” (p. 26). According to the author, both types of studies are insufficient, as they take into account either only linguistic or only practical aspects.

Consequently, one can refer to the need of development of an integrated approach to the study of phenomena in the field of legal linguistics, which we will attempt to do by reviewing the language of law in the context of its functional and stylistic structure, in conformity with the hierarchy of the Russian language.

It should be noted, that currently the scientific area in question does not have a unified definition of the phenomenon we are interested in, just as there is no expressly accepted term for its designation: “language of law”, “legal language”, “lawyers’ language” – are among the terms that we encounter in academic literature. However, it is customary in legal science to distinguish between the terms “legal language” and “language of law”. Thus, Vlasenko ( 2016 ) considers the former to be more general, defining it as “a legal vocabulary, a word-stock (pool) of jurisprudence… entire system of words and expressions (including terms and concepts), used by law in all of its aspects” (p. 14). As to the second term, the researcher refers to it as “a vocabulary of statutory and regulatory enactments (laws, etc.) subject to official interpretation” ( Vlasenko, 2016, p. 14 ). Spasov ( 2016 ) shares a similar point of view: “legal language is a holistic concept embracing several types of language of law…” (p. 83).

We believe that the above definitions are not sufficient to define the language of law, as they accentuate only the lexical component of the language, which is not enough and does not capture this phenomenon in its entirety. Shepelyov ( 2015 ) suggests the most generalized definition of the term “legal language”, highlighting its systemic nature: “legal language is an element of legal life” representing “a system, in which the language is a means of implementation of the legal sphere of society and the related spheres” (p. 70).

Based on the above approaches, we suggest considering the legal language in two aspects: the narrow and the broad one. In each of these aspects, it is based on the general norms of the literary language, set out in the orthography and grammar rules, but is rather more strictly regulated in order to make the legal texts unambiguous.

In the narrow sense, the legal language corresponds, in our view, to the language of professional communication. In the broad sense, the use of the legal language is not exclusively limited to legal professionals. In this context, one cannot speak of the legal language as of a purely professional language, since the legislative system is dedicated to serving the needs of a wide spectrum of social relations and, consequently, is accessible to an unlimited circle of people regardless of their professional occupation. In the broad sense, the legal language may be divided into professional legal language (i.e. used exclusively by the members of the corresponding profession) and unprofessional legal language (unrelated to the professional affiliation of speakers and addressees), since, in our opinion, in certain situations the legal language may be used by non-lawyers (for example, when filing a law suit), however involving a different level of proficiency of the legal language.

As we have already mentioned, the legal language is a complex multi-level formation, manifesting itself in various forms and ways. In this regard, there are also many theories concerning the place of the legal language and its relation to different planes of existence of the language in general.

Thus, there are two primary points of view on the essence of the legal language and its relation to the literary language. The first one implies complete confluence of the legal and the literary languages. The text of a law written in Russian language must be clear to all of its native speakers; law abidance involves understanding of laws, in this way, specific legal language reduces to professional slang of lawyers. This point of view was widely accepted in the soviet science and practice, “aiming to validate the idea of proximity of the Soviet law to the broad masses in contrast with the bourgeois law” ( Golev, 2004, p. 44 ).

Supporters of the second line of thought insist on the difference between the two languages, since, according to them, any legal text is created and then interpreted by professionals. Making the contents and meaning accessible to non-lawyers is a task for a legal expert (attorney, legal consultant, judge, etc.). In such a manner, this perspective makes a reference to the view on the legal language as a language of a closed professional group, which we will discuss later, comparing the legal language with other professional languages.

Undoubtedly, the functioning of the legal language relies on the general norms of the literary language, set out in the orthography rules and grammars, and is often characterized with additional, stricter norms intended to make the legal texts explicit and unambiguous.

Linguistics and legal linguistics contains a widely shared view on the legal language as one of sub-styles or functional styles of the literary language. Thus, for example, Shepelyov ( 2015 ) and other researchers highlight the need to consider the language of law as an independent functional style of Russian language arising as a result of development of the legal science ( Isakov, 2000 ).

The most detailed investigation of the legal language as an independent functional style was carried out by Shepelyov ( 2015 ). In his work, he consistently correlates the legal language with the existing functional styles of the literary language (official, scientific, publicistic and conversational) coming to the conclusion that “the analysis of each of the existing functional styles proves that none of them fully corresponds with the relevant element of the language of law. These elements prove to be broader, including components from several styles at the same time ( Shepelyov, 2015 ).

Turanin ( 2010 ) points to the need of distinction between the general literary language “used for artistic expression of various phenomena and processes” and literary sub-languages “necessary for description of specific phenomena and processes characteristic of particular fields of knowledge, possessing all the attributes of the literary language, but having their own particular features” (pp. 7-10). The scientist identifies the legal language as the latter.

We cannot deny the fact that the legal language (particularly, its written form) is based on the literary language in its essence. Nevertheless, we cannot fully agree with the perspectives suggesting their equivalence or considering the legal language as one of the literary sub-languages. As a non-dialectal form, the literary language contrasts with dialects and other non-literary language forms. In our opinion, the legal language is much wider than the literary language and comprises non-literary linguistic forms.

Among other non-literary linguistic forms, everyday conversational speech, colloquial language and dialects are particularly interesting for our study.

There are two viewpoints on the relation between the legal language and the everyday language. The first one implies that the legal language “… is not intended for everyday communication, the use of the legal language occurs only in the case of contact with the law” ( Turanin, 2010, pp. 7-10 ). Supporters of the opposite position insist that the legal language is basing itself on the everyday language. Thus, Sabo ( 2016 ) asserts that “what is termed legal language is essentially nothing else but the common language complemented with specialized expressions and technical terms, meaning the language which uses the everyday expressions more accurately” (pp. 245-246). According to our opinion, the substance of interrelationship between the legal language and the everyday language is expressed in the position of Shepelyov ( 2015 ): “The legal language in its spoken form is based on the everyday language. For this reason, the grammar and overall vocabulary of the legal language matches the grammatical system and vocabulary of the everyday language” (p. 66).

We will place particular focus on the relationship between the legal language and territorial and professional dialects. It is around this topic that the main disputes on the essence of the legal language revolve.

The question of penetration of territorial dialects into the legal language is hardly considered by the scientists. One might presume that the influence of the territorial speech on the legal language is completely ruled out. It is indeed impossible to find dialecticisms in, let us say, written federal statutes, however, there is a lexical layer which entered the general language from the regional and territorial dialects, and is still marked as “colloquial” or “archaic” vocabulary. This vocabulary is similar in nature to regionalisms, i.e. the words adopted from national languages and territorial dialects ( Rezvukhina, 2015, pp. 84-90 ). In this way, the modern legislation includes the term “pristroy” (from Rus. “annex”), e.g. in the text of the Regulation of the RF Government dated 26 December, 2017 No. 1642 On. Approval of the State Program of the Russian Federation “Development of Education” (in the Rules for provision and allocation of subsidies from the federal budget to the members of the Russian Federation for the co-financing of the costs arising in the course of implementation of government programs of the members of the Russian Federation for implementation of the activities aimed at promoting the establishment in the members of the Russian Federation (based on the forecasted demand) of new places in general-education institutions as part of the state program of the Russian Federation (“Development of Education”): “ensuring the establishment of new places in general-education institutions by way of construction, acquisition (reacquisition), reconstruction and (or) overhaul of at least one building ( annex (pristroy) to the building) in accordance with the application and the forecasted demand…”; in the text of the Ruling of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated December 19, 2017 No.13-КГ17-9: “Under such circumstances the decision of an appellate court on demolition of the entire annex (pristroy) let. A7 with the area of 88 sq.m. does not comply with the above law and its interpretation from the point of view of proportionality of the means to remedy violations”. In addition, it should be noted that the Russian Dialect Dictionary ( 2017 ) refers this word to the Perm and Ural dialects. In the thesaurus by Efremova ( 2018 ) this word is marked as “archaic”. In this case, the word “pristroyka” is recognized as a literary norm ( Efremova, 2018, p. 367 ). Consequently, we can make a conclusion about penetration of elements of territorial dialects and spoken languages into the legal language.

As for the relationship between the legal language and languages of professional communication, we believe it appropriate to consider it in two aspects: the narrow and the broad one. In each of these aspects, it is based on the general norms of the literary language, set out in the orthography and grammar rules, but is rather more strictly regulated in order to make the legal texts unambiguous.

In the narrow sense, the legal language is comparable, in our view, to a professional language, in the sense given to it by the representatives of the functional perspective, considering it as a specific functional language form in the framework of which various styles may be applied in their turn. Following Davydova ( 2011 ) we believe that it would be more accurate to speak of the legal language as of an integral phenomenon, functioning in various areas of legal work and, therefore, making use of several classic functional styles of Russian language ( Efremova, 2018 ).

However, we do not reduce the legal language to a unique terminology system, since, in our opinion, this phenomenon includes, apart from the terms, professional words (semi-official words, commonly used in spoken speech of people engaged in a certain profession) and even professional jargon ( Chufarova, 2018, p. 9-14 ).

In the broad sense, the use of legal language is not exclusively limited to legal professionals. In this context, one cannot speak of the legal language as of a purely professional language, since the legislative system is dedicated to serving the needs of a wide spectrum of social relations and, consequently, is accessible to an unlimited circle of people regardless of their professional occupation. In the broad sense, the legal language may be divided into professional legal language (i.e. used exclusively by the members of the corresponding profession) and unprofessional legal language (unrelated to the professional affiliation of speakers and addressees), since, in our opinion, in certain situations the legal language may be used by non-lawyers (for example, when filing a law suit), however involving a different level of proficiency of the legal language.

We believe that the everyday language constitutes the basis of the legal speech just as the literary language is the basis for the written form of the legal language.

Consequently, we believe, that in its functioning the legal language, relies on the general norms of the literary language, set out in the orthography rules and grammars, and is often characterized with additional stricter norms, intended to make the legal texts explicit and unambiguous and, according to its application field, makes use of various functional styles of the literary language.

It is due to the understanding, that the legal language in its functioning makes use of various styles, operating their characteristic linguistic means for the accomplishment of communication tasks, also associated with these styles, that we cannot identify the legal language with a particular style or assume that it represents a separate functional style in itself.

We suggest the following definition of the legal language: a sign system, designed to express informational component of the law system, providing for creative, implemental, scientific and educational activities and communication of participants in legal relations.

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Karasev, A. T., Savoskin, A. V., & Chufarova, E. N. (2020). The Language Of Law: Concept And Specifics. In A. Pavlova (Ed.), Philological Readings, vol 83. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 733-739). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.04.02.86

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Balance of Interests as a Principle of Civil Law: Some Aspects of Legal Consciousness

  • Yury Alexandrovich SVIRIN Department Civil Procedural Law and Bailiff Organization Department, All-Russian State University of Justice, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • Vladimir Viktorovich KULAKOV Department of Civil Law, Russian State University of Justice, Moscow, Russia Federation
  • Alexandr Anatolievich MOKHOV Kutafin Moscow State Law University, Moscov, Russian Federation
  • Sergej Nikolaevich SHESTOV Institute of Economics and Law, Academy of Labor and Social Relations, Sevastopol, Russian Federation
  • Vladislav Petrovich SOROKIN Department of Civil Law and Process Ows, Academy of Labour and Social Relations, Moscow, Russian Federation

The research considers the category of reasonable balance of interests in the context of civil relations. The authors of the article highlight the need to restrict permissibility as a method of civil regulation aimed at protecting the rights and interests of the weaker party in some legal relations. A reasonable balance of interests is ensured by laws and agreements, whose conditions become the subject of a judicial dispute in the absence of a mandatory rule. The authors have analyzed judicial acts conditioned by the need to maintain a reasonable balance of interests. As a result, they have determined that the first condition for applying the fair balance principle is the equivalence of counter-performance in the absence of both excessive benefits and excessive losses for the parties. The second condition is the party-related division in some civil relations. The authors have concluded that the risks of negative consequences should not be borne only by the weaker party if the latter could not reasonably foresee the consequences upon concluding the relevant agreement. Methods. The study is based on the comparative analysis of the Russian scientific doctrine and judicial practice. The main approach to the analysis of the legal tools in question is the method of system analysis. In addition, the authors used the structural-functional method and general scientific methods of cognition. The study aims at determining the principle of a reasonable balance of interests in civil law, its essence, necessity and expediency in the system of law enforcement. The authors aim to define conditions for applying legal norms to achieve a reasonable balance of interests among all parties in disputed legal relations. Results. The study results let the authors claim that the risks of negative consequences should not be borne only by the weaker party if it could not reasonably foresee such consequences upon concluding the agreement and the imbalance of interests among parties in civil-legal relations is caused by the violation by one or another party of the principles of fair practice and reasonableness . Although a reasonable balance of interests is a counterweight to the principles of contractual freedom and free will, courts should apply it to ensure the right of justice.

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Evgeny Pashukanis

Marksistskaia teoriia gosudarstva i prava , pp.9-44 in E. B. Pashukanis (ed.), Uchenie o gosudarstve i prave (1932), Partiinoe Izd., Moscow. From Evgeny Pashukanis, Selected Writings on Marxism and Law (eds. P. Beirne & R. Sharlet), London & New York 1980, pp.273-301. Translated by Peter B. Maggs . Copyright © Peter B. Maggs. Published here by kind permission of the translator. Downloaded from home.law.uiuc.edu/~pmaggs/pashukanis.htm Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive .

Introductory Note

In the winter of 1929-1930, during the first Five Year Plan, the national economy of the USSR underwent dramatic and violent ruptures with the inauguration of forced collectivization and rapid heavy industrialization. Concomitantly, it seemed, the Party insisted on the reconstruction and realignment of the appropriate superstructures in conformity with the effectuation of these new social relations of production. In this spirit Pashukanis was no longer criticized but now overtly attacked in the struggle on the “legal front”. In common with important figures in other intellectual disciplines, such as history, in late 1930 Pashukanis undertook a major self-criticism which was qualitatively different from the incremental changes to his work that he had produced earlier. During the following year, 1931, Pashukanis outlined this theoretical reconstruction in his speech to the first conference of Marxist jurists, a speech entitled Towards a Marxist-Leninist Theory of Law . The first results appeared a year later in a collective volume The Doctrine of State and Law .

Chapter I of this collective work is translated below, The Marxist Theory of State and Law , and was written by Pashukanis himself It should be noted that this volume exemplifies the formal transformations which occurred in Soviet legal scholarship during this heated period. Earlier, Pashukanis and other jurists had authored their own monographs; the trend was now towards a collective scholarship which promised to maximize individual safety. The source of authority for much of the work that ensued increasingly became the many expressions of Stalin’s interpretation of Bolshevik history, class struggle and revisionism, most notably his Problems of Leninism . Last, but not least, the language and vocabulary of academic discourse in the 1920s had been rich, open-ended and diverse, and varied tremendously with the personal preferences of the individual author; this gave way to a standardized and simplified style of prose devoid of nuance and ambiguity, and which was very much in keeping with the new theoretical content which comprised official textbooks on the theory of state and law. The reader will perhaps discover that The Marxist Theory of State and Law is a text imbued with these tensions. Pashukanis’ radical reconceptualization of the unity of form and content, and of the ultimate primacy of the relations of production, is without doubt to be preferred to his previous notions. But this is a preference guided by the advantages of editorial hindsight, and we feel that we cannot now distinguish between those reconceptualizations which Pashukanis may actually have intended and those which were produced by the external pressures of political opportunism.

CHAPTER I Socio-economic Formations, State, and Law

1. the doctrine of socio-economic formations as a basis for the marxist theory of state and law.

The doctrine of state and law is part of a broader whole, namely, the complex of sciences which study human society. The development of these sciences is in turn determined by the history of society itself, i.e. by the history of class struggle.

It has long since been noted that the most powerful and fruitful catalysts which foster the study of social phenomena are connected with revolutions. The English Revolution of the seventeenth century gave birth to the basic directions of bourgeois social thought, and forcibly advanced the scientific, i.e. materialist, understanding of social phenomena.

It suffices to mention such a work as Oceana – by the English writer Harrington, and which appeared soon after the English Revolution of the seventeenth century – in which changes in political structure are related to the changing distribution of landed property. It suffices to mention the work of Barnave – one of the architects of the great French Revolution – who in the same way sought explanations of political struggle and the political order in property relations. In studying bourgeois revolutions, French restorationist historians – Guizot, Mineaux and Thierry – concluded that the leitmotif of these revolutions was the class struggle between the third estate (i.e. the bourgeoisie) and the privileged estates of feudalism and their monarch. This is why Marx, in his well-known letter to Weydemeyer, indicates that the theory of the class struggle was known before him. “As far as I am concerned”, he wrote,

no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society, or the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle, and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes.

What I did that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical forms of struggle in the development of production ...; (2) that the class struggle inevitably leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and the establishment of a classless society. [1]

[ Section 2 omitted – eds. ]

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3. The class type of state and the form of government

The doctrine of socio-economic formations is particularly important to Marx’s theory of state and law, because it provides the basis for the precise and scientific delineation of the different types of state and the different systems of law.

Bourgeois political and juridical theorists attempt to establish a classification of political and legal forms without scientific criteria; not from the class essence of the forms, but from more or less external characteristics. Bourgeois theorists of the state, assiduously avoiding the question of the class nature of the state, propose every type of artificial and scholastic definition and conceptual distinction. For instance, in the past, textbooks on the state divided the state into three “elements”: territory, population and power.

Some scholars go further. Kellen – one of the most recent Swedish theorists of the state – distinguishes five elements or phenomena of the state: territory, people, economy, society and, finally, the state as the formal legal subject of power. All these definitions and distinctions of elements, or aspects of the state, are no more than a scholastic game of empty concepts since the main point is absent: the division of society into classes, and class domination. Of course, the state cannot exist without population, or territory, or economy, or society. This is an incontrovertible truth. But, at the same time, it is true that all these “elements” existed at that stage of development when there was no state. Equally, classless communist society – having territory, population and an economy – will do without the state since the necessity of class suppression will disappear.

The feature of power, or coercive power, also tells one exactly nothing. Lenin, in his polemic of the 1890s with Struve asserted that: “he most incorrectly sees the distinguishing feature of the state as coercive power. Coercive power exists in every human society – both in the tribal structure and in the family, but there was no state.” And further, Lenin concludes: “The distinguishing feature of the state is the existence of a separate class of people in whose hands power is concentrated. Obviously, no one could use the term ‘State’ in reference to a community in which the ‘organization of order’ is administered in turn by all of its members.” [2]

Struve’s position, according to which the distinguishing feature of a state is coercive power, was not without reason termed “professorial” by Lenin. Every bourgeois science of the state is full of conclusions on the essence of this coercive power. Disguising the class character of the state, bourgeois scholars interpret this coercion in a purely psychological sense. “For power and subordination”, wrote one of the Russian bourgeois jurists (Lazarevsky), “two elements are necessary: the consciousness of those exercising power that they have the right to obedience, and the consciousness of the subordinates that they must obey.”

From this, Lazarevsky and other bourgeois jurists reached the following conclusion: state power is based upon the general conviction of citizens that a specific state has the right to issue its decrees and laws. Thus, the real fact-concentration of the means of force and coercion in the hands of a particular class-is concealed and masked by the ideology of the bourgeoisie. While the feudal landowning state sanctified its power by the authority of religion, the bourgeoisie uses the fetishes of statute and law. In connection with this, we also find the theory of bourgeois jurists-which now has been adopted in its entirety by the Social Democrats whereby the state is viewed as an agency acting in the interests of the whole society. “If the source of state power derives from class”, wrote another of the bourgeois jurists (Magaziner), “then to fulfil its tasks it must stand above the class struggle. Formally, it is the arbiter of the class struggle, and even more than that: it develops the rules of this struggle.”

It is precisely this false theory of the supra-class nature of the state that is used for the justification of the treacherous policy of the Social Democrats. In the name “of the general interest”, Social Democrats deprive the unemployed of their welfare payments, help in reducing wages, and encourage shooting at workers’ demonstrations.

Not wishing to recognize the basic fact, i.e. that states differ according to their class basis, bourgeois theorists of the state concentrate all their attention on various forms of government. But this difference by itself is worthless. Thus, for instance, in ancient Greece and ancient Rome we have the most varied forms of government. But all the transitions from monarchy to republic, from aristocracy to democracy, which we observe there, do not destroy the basic fact that these states, regardless of their different forms, were slave-owning states. The apparatus of coercion, however it was organized, belong to the slave-owners and assured their mastery over the slaves with the help of armed force, assured the right of the slave-owners to dispose of the labour and personality of the slaves, to exploit them, to commit any desired act of violence against them.

Distinguishing between the form of rule and the class essence of the state is particularly important for the correct strategy of the working class in its struggle with capitalism. Proceeding from this distinction, we establish that to the extent that private property and the power of capital remain untouchable, to this extent the democratic form of government does not change the essence of the matter. Democracy with the preservation of capitalist exploitation will always be democracy for the minority, democracy for the propertied; it will always mean the exploitation and subjugation of the great mass of the working people. Therefore theorists of the Second International such as Kautsky, who contrast “democracy” in general with “dictatorship”, entirely refuse to consider their class nature. They replace Marxism with vulgar legal dogmatism, and act as the scholarly champions and lackeys of capitalism.

The different forms of rule had already arisen in slave-owning society. Basically, they consist of the following types: the monarchic state with an hereditary head, and the republic where power is elective and where there are no offices which pass by inheritance. In addition, aristocracy, or the power of a minority (i.e. a state where participation in the administration of the state is limited by law to a definite and rather narrow circle of privileged persons) is distinguished from democracy (or, literally, the rule of the people), i.e. a state where by law all take part in deciding public affairs either directly or through elected representatives. The distinction between monarchy, aristocracy and democracy had already been established by the Greek philosopher Aristotle in the fourth century. All the modern bourgeois theories of the state could add little to this classification.

Actually the significance of one form or another can be gleaned only by taking into account the concrete historical conditions under which it arose and existed, and only in the context of the class nature of a specific state. Attempts to establish any general abstract laws of the movement of state forms – with which bourgeois theorists of the state have often been occupied – have nothing in common with science.

In particular, the change of the form of government depends on concrete historical conditions, on the condition of the class struggle, and on how relationships are formed between the ruling class and the subordinate class, and also within the ruling class itself

The forms of government may change although the class nature of the state remains the same. France, in the course of the nineteenth century, and after the revolution of 1830 until the present time, was a constitutional monarchy, an empire and a republic, and the rule of the bourgeois capitalist state was maintained in all three of these forms. Conversely, the same form of government (for instance a democratic republic) which was encountered in antiquity as one of the variations of the slave-owning state, is in our time one of the forms of capitalist domination.

Therefore, in studying any state, it is very important primarily to examine not its external form but its internal class content, placing the concrete historical conditions of the class struggle at the very basis of scrutiny.

The question of the relationship between the class type of the state and the form of government is still very little developed. In the bourgeois theory of the state this question not only could not be developed, but could not even be correctly posed, because bourgeois science always tries to disguise the class nature of all states, and in particular the class nature of the capitalist state. Often therefore, bourgeois theorists of the state, without analysis, conflate characteristics relating to the form of government and characteristics relating to the class nature of the state.

As an example one may adduce the classification which is proposed in one of the newest German encyclopaedias of legal science.

The author [Kellreiter] distinguishes: (a) absolutism and dictatorship, and considers that the basic characteristic of these forms is that state powers are concentrated in the hands of one person. As an example, he mentions the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV in France, tsarist autocracy in Russia and the dictatorial power which was invested by the procedure of extraordinary powers in the one person, for instance the president of the German Republic on the basis of Art.48 of the Weimar Constitution; (b) constitutionalism, characterized by the separation of powers, their independence and their checks and balances, thereby weakening the pressure exerted by state power on the individual (examples: the German Constitution before the 1918 revolution, and the USA, where the President and Congress have independent powers); (c) democracy, whose basic premise is monism of power and a denial in principle of the difference between power and the subject of power (popular sovereignty, exemplified by the German Republic); and (d) the class-corporative state and the Soviet system where as opposed to formal democracy, the people appear not as an atomized mass of isolated citizens but as a totality of organized and discrete collectives. [3]

This classification is very typical of the confusion which bourgeois scholars consciously introduce into the question of the state. Starting with the fact that the concept of dictatorship is interpreted in the formal legal sense, deprived of all class content, the bourgeois jurist deliberately avoids the question: the dictatorship of which class and directed against whom ? He blurs the distinction between the dictatorship of a small group of exploiters and the dictatorship of the overwhelming majority of the working people; he distorts the concept of dictatorship, for he cannot avoid defining it without a relevant law or paragraph, while “the scientific concept of dictatorship means nothing less than power resting directly upon force, unlimited by laws, and unconstricted by absolute rules”. [4] Further it is sufficient to indicate, for instance, that under the latter heading the author includes: (a) a new type of state, never encountered before in history, where power belongs to the proletariat; (b) the reactionary dreams of certain professors and so-called guild socialists, about the return to the corporations and shops of the Middle Ages; and, finally (c) the fascist dictatorship of capital which Mussolini exercises in Italy.

This respected scholar consciously introduces confusion, consciously ignores the concrete historical conditions under which the working people actually can exercise administration of the state, acting as organized collectives. But such conditions are only the proletarian revolution and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

4. The class nature of law

Bourgeois science confuses the question of the essence of law no less than the question of the state. Here, Marxism-Leninism opposes the diverse majority of bourgeois, petit bourgeois and revisionist theories which, proceeding from the explanation of the historical and class nature of law, consider the state as a phenomenon essential to every human society. They thus transform law into a supra-historical category.

It is not surprising, therefore, that bourgeois philosophy of law serves as the main source for introducing confusion both into the concept of law and into the concept of state and society.

The bourgeois theory of the state is 90% the legal theory of the state. The unattractive class essence of the state, most often and most eagerly, is hidden by clever combinations of legal formalism, or else it is covered by a cloud of lofty philosophical legal abstractions.

The exposure of the class historical essence of law is not, therefore, an unimportant part of the Marxist-Leninist theory of society, of the state and of law.

The most widespread approach of bourgeois science to the solution of the question of the essence of law consists in the fact that it strives to embrace, through the concept of law, the existence of any consciously ordered human relationships, of any social rules, of any phenomenon of social authority or social power. Thus, bourgeois scholars easily transfer law to pre-class society, find it in the pre-state life of primitive tribes, and conclude that communism is unthinkable without law. They turn law as an empty abstraction into a universal concept devoid of historical content. Law, for bourgeois sociologists, becomes an empty form which is unconnected with concrete reality, with the relationships of production, with the antagonistic character of these relationships in class society, [and] with the presence of the state as a particular apparatus of power in the hands of the ruling class.

Representatives of idealist philosophy of law go still further. They begin with “the idea of law”, which stands above social history as something eternal, immutable and independent of space and time.

Here, for example, is the conclusion of one of the most important representatives of the ideological neo-Kantian philosophy of law – Stammler:

Through all the fates and deeds of man there extends a single unitary idea, the idea of law. All languages have a designation for this concept, and the direction of definitions and judgements expressed by it amount, upon careful study, to one and the same meaning.

Having made this discovery, it cost Stammler nothing “to prove” that regardless of the difference between the “life and activity of nations” and “the objects of legal consideration”, we observe the unity of the legal idea and its equal appearance and intervention.

This professorial rubbish is presented without the least attempt at factual proof In actuality it would be rather difficult to explain how this “unity of the legal idea and its equal appearance” gave birth to the laws of the Twelve Tablets of slave-owning Rome, the serf customs of the Middle Ages, the declarations of rights of capitalist democracies, and our Soviet Constitution.

But Stammler is not embarrassed by the scantiness of factual argument. He deals just as simply with the proof of the eternity of law. He begins from those legendary Cyclops described in the Odyssey; even these mythical wonders were the fathers of families and, according to Stammler, could not do without law. On the other hand, however, while Stammler is ready to admit that the pigmy tribes of Africa and the Eskimos did not know the state, he simply denies as deceptive all reports about peoples not knowing law. Moreover, Stammler immediately replaces the concrete historical consideration of the question with scholastic formal-logical tightrope walking, which among bourgeois professors is presented as a methodological precision. We present these conclusions, for they typify the whole trend and, moreover, are most fashionable in the West.

Stammler proposes that the concrete study of legal phenomena is entirely unable to provide anything in the understanding of the essence of law. For if we assign any phenomenon to the list of legal ones, this means that we already know that this is law and what its characteristics are. The definition of law which precedes the facts presupposes knowledge of what is law and what is not law. Accordingly, in the opinion of Stammler, in considering the concept of law, it is necessary to exclude all that is concrete and encountered in experience and to understand “that the legal idea is a purely methodological means for the ordering of spiritual life”.

This conclusion, which confronts one with its scholasticism, is nothing other than a Kantian ideological thesis embodied in the context of Stammler’s legal stupidity. It shows that the so-called forms of knowledge do not express the objective characteristics of matter, are determined a priori, and precede all human experience and its necessary conditions.

Having turned law into a methodological idea, Stammler tries to locate it not in the material world where everything is subordinate to the law of cause and effect, but in the area of goals. Law, according to Stammler, is a definition which proceeds not from the past (from cause to effect), but from the future (from goal to means). Finally, adding that law deals not with the internal procedure of thoughts as such, but with human interaction, Stammler gives this agonizing and thoroughly scholastic definition:

The concept of law is a pure form of thought. It methodically divides the endlessly differentiated material of human desires apprehended by the senses, and defines it as an inviolable and independent connecting will.

This professorial scholasticism has the attractive feature for the bourgeoisie that verbal and formalistic contrivances can hide the ugly reality of [their] exploiting society and exploiting law.

If law is “a pure form of thought”, then it is possible to avoid the ugly fact that the capitalist law of private property means the misery of unemployment, poverty and hunger for the proletarian and his family; and that in defence of this law stand police armed to the teeth, fascist bands, hangmen and prison guards; and that this law signifies a whole system of coercion, humiliation and oppression in colonies.

Such theories allow the disguising of the fact that the class interest of the bourgeoisie lies at the basis of bourgeois law. Instead of class law, philosophers such as Stammler dream up abstractions, “pure forms”, general human “ideas”, “whole and durable bonds of will” – and other entirely shameless things.

This philosophy of law is calculated to blunt the revolutionary class consciousness of the proletariat, and to reconcile it with bourgeois society and capitalist exploitation.

It is not without reason that the social fascists speak out as such zealous exponents of neo-Kantianism; it is not without reason that Social Democratic theorists on questions of law largely subscribe to neo-Kantian philosophy and re-hash the same Stammler in different ways.

In our Soviet legal literature, a rather wide dissemination has been achieved by bourgeois legal theories. In particular, there have been attempts to spread the idealist teaching of Stammler in the works of Pontovich and Popov-Ladyzhensky. The criticism and unmasking of this eructation is necessary for the purpose of eradicating this bourgeois ideological infection.

Thus, we know that the state is an historical phenomenon limited by the boundaries of class society. A state is a machine for the maintenance of the domination of one class over another. It is an organization of the ruling class, having at its disposal the most powerful means of suppression and coercion. Until the appearance of classes the state did not exist. In developed communism there will be no state.

In the same way as the state, law is inseparably tied to the division of society into classes. Every law is the law of the ruling class. The basis of law is the formulation and consolidation of the relationship to the means of production, owing to which in exploitative society, one part of the people can appropriate to itself the unpaid labour of another.

The form of exploitation determines the typical features of a legal system. In accordance with the three basic socio-economic formations of class society, we have three basic types of legal superstructure: slave-owning law, feudal law and bourgeois law. This of course does not exclude concrete historical national differences between each of the systems. For instance, English law is distinguished by many peculiarities in comparison with French bourgeois law as contained in the Napoleonic Code . Likewise, we do not exclude the presence of survivals of the past – transitional or mixed forms – which complicate the concrete picture.

However, the essential and basic – that which provides the guiding theme for the study of different legal institutions – is the difference between the position of the slave, the position of the serf and the position of the wage labourer. The relationship of exploitation is the basic lynchpin, around which all other legal relationships and legal institutions are arranged. From this it follows that the nature of property has decisive significance for each system of law. According to Lenge, the brilliant and cynical reactionary of the eighteenth century, the spirit of the laws is property.

5. Law as an historical phenomenon: definition of law

The appearance and withering away of law, similar to the appearance and withering of the state, is connected with two extremely important historical limitations. Law (and the state) appears with the division of society into classes. Passing through a long path of development, full of revolutionary leaps and qualitative changes, law and the state will wither away under communism as a result of the disappearance of classes and of all survivals of class society.

Nevertheless, certain authors, who consider themselves Marxists, adopt the viewpoint that law exists in pre-class society, that in primitive communism we meet with legal forms and legal relationships. Such a point of view is adopted for instance by Reisner. Reisner gives the term “law” to a whole series of institutions and customs of tribal society: marriage taboos and blood feud, customs regulating relationships between tribes, and customs relating to the use of the means of production belonging to a tribe. Law in this manner is transformed into an eternal institution, inherent to all forms of human society. From here it is just one step to the understanding of law as an eternal idea; and Reisner in essence leans towards such an understanding.

This viewpoint of course fundamentally contradicts Marxism. The customs of a society not knowing class divisions, property inequality and exploitation, differ qualitatively from the law and the statutes of class society. To categorize them together means to introduce an unlikely confusion. Every attempt to avoid this qualitative difference inevitably leads to scholasticism, to the purely external combination of phenomena of different types, or to abstract idealist constructs in the Stammlerian spirit.

We should not be confused by the fact that Engels, in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State , uses the expression “the eternal law”; or, that he cites, without particular qualification, Morgan’s description of the member of a tribal community as having “equality of rights”, and of a person violating tribal customs as having placed himself “outside the law”.

It is clear that the terms “right” and “law” are used here not in their direct sense, but by analogy. This does not mean, however, that in classless society we will be dealing only with purely technical rules. Such an argument was put forward by Stuchka in his dispute with Reisner. To assign the customs and the norms of pre-class society to the area of technology would mean to give the concept of technology a very extended and undefined sense. Marriage prohibitions, customs relating to the organization of the tribe, the power of the elders, blood feud etc. – all this of course is not technology and not technical methods, but the customs and norms of social order. The content and character of these customs corresponded of course to the level of productive forces and the production relationships erected on it. These social forms should be considered as a superstructure upon the economic base. But the basic qualitative difference between this superstructure and the political and legal superstructures of class society, consists in the absence of property inequality, exploitation, and organized class coercion.

While Marxism strives to give a concrete historical meaning to law, the characteristic feature of bourgeois philosophers of law is, on the contrary, the conclusion that law in general is outside classes, outside any particular socio-economic formation. Instead of deriving a concept of law from the study of historical facts, bourgeois scholars are occupied with the concoction of theories and definitions from the empty concept or even the word “law”.

We already saw how Stammler, with the help of scholastic contrivances, tries to show that concrete facts have no significance for the definition of law. We, however, say the opposite. It is impossible to give a general definition of law without knowing the law of slave-owning, feudal and capitalist societies. Only by studying the law of each of these socio-economic formations can we identify those characteristics which are in fact most general and most typical. In doing so we must not forget Engels’ warning to those who tend to exaggerate the significance of these general definitions.

For example, in Chapter VI of the first part of Anti-Dühring , having given a definition of life, Engels speaks of the inadequacy of all definitions because they are necessarily limited to the most general and simplistic areas. In the preface to Anti-Dühring , Engels formulated this thought still more clearly, indicating that “the only real definition is the development of the essence of the matter, and that is not a definition”. However, Engels at once states that for ordinary practical use, definitions which indicate the most general and characteristic features of a category are very convenient. We cannot do without them. It is also wrong to demand more from a definition than it can give; it is wrong to forget the inevitability of its insufficiency.

These statements by Engels should be kept in mind in approaching any general definition, including a definition of law. It is necessary to remember that it does not replace, and cannot replace, the study of all forms and aspects of law as a concrete historical phenomenon. In identifying the most general and characteristic features we can define law as the form of regulation and consolidation of production relationships and also of other social relationships of class society; law depends on the apparatus of state power of the ruling class, and reflects the interests of the latter.

This definition characterizes the role and significance of law in class society. But it is nevertheless incomplete. In contradistinction to all normative theories – which are limited to the external and formal side of law (norms, statutes, judicial positions etc.) – Marxist-Leninist theory considers a law as a unity of form and content. The legal superstructure comprises not only the totality of norms and actions of agencies, but the unity of this formal side and its content, i.e. of the social relationships which law reflects and at the same time sanctions, formalizes and modifies. The character of formalization does not depend on the “free will of the legislator”; it is defined by economics, but on the other hand the legal superstructure, once having arisen, exerts a reflexive effect upon the economy.

This definition stresses three aspects of the matter. First is the class nature of law: every law is the law of the ruling class. Attempts to consider law as a social relationship which transcends class society, lead either to superficial categorization of diverse phenomena, or to speculative idealistic constructs in the spirit of the bourgeois philosophy of law. Second is the basic and determinant significance of production relationships in the content that is implemented by law. Class interests directly reflect their relationship to the means of production. Property relationships occupy the prominent place in the characterization of a specific legal order. Communist society, where classes disappear, where labour becomes the primary want, where the effective principle will be from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs: this does not require law. The third aspect consists of the fact that the functioning of a legal superstructure demands a coercive apparatus. When we say that social relationships have assumed a legal expression, this means inter alia that they have been given a coercive nature by the state power of the ruling class. Withering away of the law can only occur simultaneously with the withering away of the state.

Relationships which have received legal expression are qualitatively different from those relationships which have not received this expression. The form of this expression may be different, as was indicated by Engels [5] ; it may sometimes be good and sometimes be bad. It may support the progressive development of these relationships or, on the contrary, retard them. Everything depends on whether power is in the hands of a revolutionary or a reactionary class. Here the real significance of the legal superstructure appears. However, the degree of this reality is a question of fact; it can be determined only by concrete study and not by any a priori calculations. Bourgeois jurists characteristically concentrate their attention on form, and utterly ignore content. They turn their backs on life and actual history. As Engels showed, “they consider public and private law as independent areas, which have their own independent development and which must and may be subjected to independent systematic elaboration by the consistent elimination of all internal contradictions.” [6]

Bourgeois jurists usually define law as the totality of norms to which a state has given coercive power. This view of law typifies so-called legal positivism. The most consistent representatives of this trend are the English jurists: of the earliest Blackstone (eighteenth century), and thereafter Austin. In other European countries legal positivism also won itself a dominant position in the nineteenth century, because the bourgeoisie either gained state power or everywhere achieved sufficient influence in the state so as not to fear the identification of law with statute. At the same time nothing was better for legal professionals, for judges, [and] for defence counsel since this definition fully satisfied their practical needs. If law in its entirety was the complex of orders proceeding from the state, and consolidated by sanction in the case of disobedience, then the task of jurisprudence was defined with maximum clarity. The work of the jurist, according to the positivists, did not consist in justifying law from some external point of view – philosophers were occupied with this; the task of the jurists did not include explaining from where a norm emerged, and what determined its content – this was the task of political scientists and sociologists. The role of the jurist remained the logical interpretation of particular legal provisions, the establishment of an internal logical connection between them, combining them into larger systematic units in legal institutions, and finally in this way the creation of a system of law.

The definition of law as the totality of norms is the starting point for supporting the so-called dogmatic method. This consists of using formal logical conclusions in order to move from particular norms to more general concepts and back, proceeding from general positions to propose the solution of concrete legal cases or disputes. It is obvious that the practical part of this role developing especially luxuriantly in the litigious circumstances of bourgeois society – has nothing in common with a scientific theory of law. Applications of so-called legal logic are not only theoretically fruitless, they are not only incapable of revealing the essence of law and thus of showing its connection with other phenomena-with economics, with politics, with class struggle – but they are also harmful and impermissible in the practice of our Soviet courts and other state institutions. We need decisions of cases, not formally, but in their essence; the state of the working people, as distinct from the bourgeois state, does not hide either its class character or its goal – the construction of socialism. Therefore, the application of norms of Soviet law must not be based on certain formal logical considerations, but upon the consideration of all the concrete features of the given case, of the class essence of those relationships to which it becomes necessary to apply a general norm, and of the general direction on of the policy of Soviet power at the given moment. In the opposite case a result would be obtained which Lenin defined as: “Correct in form, a mockery in substance.”

The denial of formal legal logic cultivated by the bourgeoisie does not mean a denial of revolutionary legality, does not mean that judicial cases and questions of administration must be decided chaotically in the Soviet state, systematically on the basis of the random whims of individuals, or on the basis of local influences. The struggle for revolutionary legality is a struggle on two fronts: against legal formalism and the transfer to Soviet soil of bourgeois chicanery, and against those who do not understand the organizational significance of Soviet decrees as one of the methods of the uniform conduct of the policy of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Thus, the law is the means of formulating and consolidating the production relationships of class society and the social relationships which are connected with them. In the legal superstructure, these relationships appear as property relations and as relations of domination and subordination. They appear, in particular, as relations of an ideological nature, i.e. as relations which are formed in connection with certain views and are supported by the conscious will of the people.

We shall not touch upon the question of the degree to which the legal ideology of the exploiting classes is capable of correctly reflecting reality, and in what measure it inevitably distorts it (representing the interest of the exploiting class as the social interest in order, legality, freedom etc.). Here, we merely emphasize the fact that without the work of legislators, judges, police and prison guards (in a word, of the whole apparatus of the class state), law would become a fiction. “Law is nothing without an apparatus capable of enforcing observation of the norms of law” (Lenin).

The conscious will – towards the formulation and consolidation of production and other relationships – is the will of the ruling class which finds its expression in custom, in law, in the activity of the court and in administration. The legal superstructure exists and functions because behind it stands an organization of the ruling class, namely the apparatus of coercion and power in the form of the army, the police, court bailiffs, prison guards and hangmen. This does not mean that the ruling class has to use physical force in every case. Much is achieved by simple threat, by the knowledge of helplessness and of the futility of struggle, by economic pressure, and finally by the fact that the working classes are in the ideological captivity of the exploiters. It is sufficient to mention the narcotic of the religious ideology of humility and meekness, or the genuflection before the idol of bourgeois legality preached by the reformist.

But the ultimate argument for, and the basis of, the legal order is always the means of physical force. Only by depending on them could the slaveowner of antiquity or the modern capitalist enjoy his right.

The attempts by certain bourgeois jurists to separate law from the state, or to contrast “law” and “force”, are dictated by the attempt to hide and conceal the class essence of law.

Often these proofs that law is independent of the state bear a truly laughable character. Thus, for instance, Stammler claims that he has proved this thesis relying on the fact that on a dirigible which flies over the North Pole, i.e. outside the sphere of action of any state power, the emergence of legal relationships is possible.

By such empty dogmatic chicanery the scientific question of the relationship of state and law is decided. Can one be surprised at Lenin’s sharp reaction to Stammler when he says that: “From stupid arguments, Stammler draws equally stupid conclusions.”

The dependence of law on the state, however, does not signify that the state creates the legal superstructure by its arbitrary will. For the state itself, as Engels says, is only a more or less complex reflection of the economic needs of the dominant class in production.

The proletariat, having overthrown the bourgeoisie and consolidated its dictatorship, had to create Soviet law in conformity with the economy, in particular the existence of many millions of small and very small peasant farms. After the victory of the proletarian revolution the realization of socialism is not an instantaneous act but a long process of construction under the conditions of acute class struggle.

From the policy of limiting its exploitative tendencies and the elimination of its front ranks, we moved to the policy of liquidating the kulaks as a class by widespread collectivization. A successful fulfilment of the first Five Year Plan; the creation of our own base for the technical reconstruction of the whole national economy; the transfer of the basic mass of the peasantry to collectivization; these events enabled the basic task of the second Five Year Plan to be:

the final liquidation of capitalist elements and classes in general, the full elimination of the causes of class differences and exploitation, the overcoming of the survivals of capitalism in the economy and the consciousness of the people, the transformation of the whole working population of the country into conscious and active builders of a classless society. [7]

At each of these stages Soviet law regulated and formulated production relationships differently.

Soviet law in each of the stages was naturally different from the law of capitalist states. For law under the proletarian dictatorship has always had the goal of protecting the interest of “the working majority, the suppression of class elements hostile to the proletariat, and the defence of socialist construction. Those individual Soviet jurists who considered law as the totality of norms (i.e. externally and formally) are not in a position to understand this. Finding identically formulated norms in the system of bourgeois and Soviet law, these jurists began to speak of the similarity between bourgeois and Soviet law, to search out “general” institutions, and to trace the development of certain “general” bases for bourgeois and Soviet law. This tendency was very strong in the first years of NEP. The identification of Soviet with bourgeois law derived from an understanding of NEP as a return to capitalism, which found expression in the Marxist ranks.

If NEP, as the Zinoviev opposition asserted at the XIVth Party Congress, is “capitalism which holds the proletarian state on a chain”, then Soviet law must be presented as bourgeois law, in which certain limitations are introduced, to the extent in the period of imperialism that the capitalist state also regulates and limits the freedom of disposition of property, contractual freedom etc.

Such a distortion in the description of NEP led directly to an alliance with bourgeois reformists in the understanding of Soviet law.

In fact, NEP “is a special policy of the proletarian state intended to permit capitalism while the commanding heights are held by the proletarian state, intended for the struggle between the capitalist and socialist elements, intended for the growth of the role of the socialist elements at the expense of the capitalist elements, intended for the victory of the socialist elements over the capitalist elements, intended for the elimination of classes and for the construction of the foundation of a socialist economy.” [8]

Soviet law as a special form of policy followed by the proletariat and the proletarian state, was intended precisely for the victory of socialism. As such, it is radically different from bourgeois law despite the formal resemblance of individual statutes.

Juridicial formalism, which conceives of nothing other than the norm and reduces law to the purely logical operation of these norms, appears as a variety of reformism, as a Soviet “juridical socialism”. By confining themselves only to the norm and the purely juridical (i.e. formal ideas and concepts), they ignored the socio-economic and political essence of the matter. As a result, these jurists arrive at the conclusion that the transformation of property from an arbitrary and unrestricted right into a “social function” (i.e. a tendency which is “peculiar to the law of the advanced”, that is, capitalist, countries), finds its “fullest” expression in Soviet legislation. Making this contention, the Jurists “forgot” such a trifle as the October Revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

It is not only important to “read” the norm, but also to know what class, what state, and what state apparatus is applying this norm.

6. Law and production relationships

Production relationships form the basis of society. It is necessary to begin with these relationships in order to comprehend the complex picture presented by the history of mankind.

To search for the basic characteristic of society and social relations in an area other than production relationships means to deprive oneself of the possibility of a scientific understanding of the laws of development of social formations. However, it by no means follows from this that, according to Marx, only relations of production and exchange are social relations. Such a concept is a caricature of Marxism. The equation of social relations with production relations in this case is understood purely mechanically. However, a number of times Lenin noted that Marx’s great service was that he did not limit himself to the description of the economic “skeleton” of capitalist society, but that:

in explaining the construction and development of a definite social formation “exclusively” by production relations, he nonetheless thoroughly and constantly studied the superstructure corresponding to these production relations, which clothed the skeleton with flesh and blood. The reason that Das Kapital had such enormous success was that this book (“by a German economist”) showed the capitalist social formation as a living thing-with its everyday aspects, with the actual social phenomena essential to the production relations between antagonistic classes, with the bourgeois political superstructure protecting the domination of the capitalist class, with the bourgeois ideas of freedom, equality etc., with bourgeois family relations. [9]

Stuchka looks differently at the matter. In his opinion, Marx considered only relations of production and exchange to be social relations. But this would mean affirming that Marx limited himself to the “skeleton” alone, as if having indicated the basic and eventually determinant in social life and social relations he then passed by that which is derivative and requires explanation. However, more than once Marx directly points out the existence of social relationships which are not production relations but which merely derive from them and correspond to them. Characterizing revolutionary proletarian socialism in France in 1848, Marx wrote:

This socialism is the proclamation of the permanence of the revolution , a proclamation of the class dictatorship of the proletariat as a necessary transition toward the elimination of class differences altogether, toward the elimination of all production relations upon which these differences are based, toward the elimination of all social relationships corresponding to these production relations, toward a revolution in the entire world of ideas arising from these relationships. [10]

Nevertheless, Comrade Stuchka firmly defends his understanding of the term “social relationships”:

We proceed from social relationships; I emphasize the word “social”, for here my critics are desperately confused. I thus selected the word “social” and a whole chapter in my first book was dedicated to it only in the sense of relations of production and exchange (as Marx and every Marxist understands this). [11]

Proceeding from the equation of production and social relationships, Stuchka defined law as a “system (or order) of social relations corresponding to the interests of the ruling class and protected by its organized force”. In this definition, as he himself indicated, there was room only for the law of property and the law of obligations.

As earlier, so even now [he wrote] I consider basic law , law in general, to be civil law , understanding thereby the form of organization of social relationships in the narrow and specific sense of the word (i.e. relations of production and exchange). I consider that all the remaining areas of law are either of a subordinate or derivative character, and that only bourgeois law (subjecting to its influence all the remaining areas of law) created a legal state, or state law and criminal law, as an equivalent norm for crime and punishment, not even mentioning administrative, financial etc., and finally international law or even the law of war. [12]

The positions outlined in this excerpt contain a series of mistakes. There is no doubt that the formulation and conformation of social relationships to the means of production is basic to law. Proceeding from the economic basis, from different forms of exploitation, we differentiate slaveowning, feudal and capitalist systems of law. But, in the first place, it is incorrect to subsume the property relations of slaveowning or feudal society under the concept of civil, i.e. bourgeois, law as “law in general”. In the second place, state law may not be equated with the so-called Rechtsstaat of the bourgeoisie. If one takes this point of view then one must either deny the existence of a distinctive feudal state law, or show that despite the existence of a Soviet state we do have Soviet state law. At the same time, in other places in his textbook, Stuchka proceeds from the existence of different class systems of law: feudal, bourgeois, Soviet. Here he argues for a “general law” which is equated with the civil law of bourgeois society. At the same time state law is equated with the theory of bourgeois jurists of the so-called Rechtsstaat , and criminal law (i.e. formalized class repression) with the ideology of equivalent retribution.

The basic question – do relationships exist that enter into the content of law, which are not, however, relations of production and exchange? – is avoided by Stuchka; he cites the subsidiary, derivative etc. character of state, criminal etc. law. However, it is clear that the structure of family relationships, the formalization of class domination in the state organization, the formalization of class repression, all this is embraced by the different branches of law (family, state and criminal).

The content of this legal intermediary is the social and political relationships which, in the final analysis, are reducible to the same production relationships, but by no means correspond to them.

Stuchka’s subsequent definition of law suffers from the shortcoming that he limits the area of law merely to production relations. This definition also introduces confusion because it confuses law with economics. Proceeding from the indisputable position that not all which is stated in a norm (in a statute) is realized in fact, Stuchka has made the incorrect conclusion that law is indeed the very relation of production and exchange. Stuchka has therefore declared Marx’s teaching – that law is an ideological superstructure to be a tribute to the “volitional theory” of the old jurists.

Whoever has mastered the form of theorizing of Marx and Engels that capital, money etc., are social relationships, will at once understand my views on the system of social relationships. This will be hardest of all for a jurist for whom law is a purely technical and artificial superstructure, strangely enough, holding sway over its base. Even Karl Marx gave a small tribute to this concept when he spoke of law as an ideological superstructure. But Marx was raised on Roman law and in general on the juridic concepts of the 1830s, considering it an expression “of the general will” ( Volkswillen ), and he was [therefore] accustomed to its terminology. [13]

In conducting the struggle with the narrow, formal legal concept of law as a totality of norms, we cannot deny the real existence of the legal superstructure, i.e. of relationships formulated and consolidated by the conscious will of the ruling class. Only to the extent that this process of formulation and consolidation proceeds may one speak of law. To study law only as totality of norms means to follow the path of formalism and dogmatism. But to study law only as relationships of production and exchange means to confuse law with economics, to retard the understanding of the reciprocal action of the legal superstructure and its active role. At the same time as production relations are imposed on people regardless of their will, legal relationships are impossible without the participation of the conscious will of the ruling class. The teaching of Marx, Engels and Lenin on law as an ideological superstructure needs no correction. Law cannot be understood unless we consider it as the basic form of the policy of the ruling class. In the later editions of The Revolutionary Role of State and Law , Stuchka supplemented his definition of law, developing the theory of the so-called three forms of law. The first, or in Stuchka’s words, the concrete form of law, is a legal relationship which corresponds to a production relationship and, with it, constitutes the base [or] reality. On the contrary, the two “abstract” forms – statute and legal ideology as Stuchka expresses it – are the essence of “the manifest superstructure”. [14]

This approach is also incorrect and non-dialectical. A legal relationship is a form of production relations because the active influence of the class organization of the ruling class transforms the factual relationship into a legal one, gives it a new quality, and thus includes it in the construction of the legal superstructure. This result is not achieved automatically by laissez faire , in the same way that prices are established under free competition. Even in the case of so-called customary law, the ruling class – through its special agencies, through the courts – ensures that the relations correspond to obligatory rules. This is all the more true with respect to the legislative creation of norms.

In particular, the revolutionary role of the legal superstructure is enormous in the transitional period when its active and conscious influence upon production and other social relationships assumes exceptional significance. Soviet law, like any law, will cease to exist if it is not applied. But the application of law is an active and conscious process by which the state apparatus plays the decisive role as a powerful weapon of class struggle. Would it be possible, for instance, to speak of Soviet law which did not somehow recognize the Soviet state, the Soviet agencies of power, Soviet courts etc.? It is clear that while an individual statute may be removed from the real legal order and remain a pious wish, concrete legal relationships may never be removed from the consciousness and will of the ruling class, may never be transferred from the superstructure to the base without parting from the heart of historical materialism.

From all that has been said above it is clear that the definition of law as a formal intermediary of the economy must be recognized as insufficient and incorrect. The different branches of law are connected differently with the economy; this must never be forgotten, and this is not expressed in the above-mentioned definition. On the contrary it can lead to the notion that the area of law is limited to property relationships alone. Then all the other types of law must be declared non-existent. Stuchka would, in fact, have had to reach this conclusion. But he speaks of criminal and state law, not entirely consistently with his other position, i.e. by referring to them he recognizes their existence.

There is no doubt that economics is at the base of political, familial and all other social relations. [15] But the election law of any capitalist country facilitates the economy differently from civil law or the Criminal Code. To try to force all the varied branches of law into one formula is to give preference to empty abstractions.

Law as a formal facilitation of social and (primarily) production relationships must be studied concretely. This study may not be replaced with ready citations from Hegel with respect to the “transformation of form into substance and substance into form”. The dialectical method, which teaches that every truth is concrete, becomes in this instance its own opposite-dead scholasticism, barren arguments and disputes on the theme that “form is not without content and content not without form”. However, the matter really consists of showing the role and character of law as form in specific and concrete branches of law and concrete historial conditions with a relation to concrete content. Only in this manner can the real relation of form and content be established and can one be convinced that it is far from identical in different instances. Often legal form hides economic content directly contrary to it (thus in the period when we conducted the policy of restricting the kulak, the leasing of a horse or tools by a poor peasant to a rich one often hid the sale of the first’s labour power to the second). A transaction of purchase and sale can hide the most diverse economic content. The same could be said about any other relationships within the so-called law of obligations. Here we meet with a phenomenon whose form is relatively indifferent to its content, but it is improper to conclude from this that in civil law we have a “faceless instrumentality” which must be used independently of the economic class content of the relationships which it implements. On the contrary, the significance of form is recognized only through content, through economics, through politics and through relations between classes.

Therefore, it is a flagrant error to equate law as an historical phenomenon – including various class systems – with the totality of those features of bourgeois law that derive from the exchange of commodities of equal value. [16] Such a concept of law minimizes the class coercion essential to bourgeois law, essential to feudal law and to all law. Law in bourgeois society serves not only the facilitation of exchange, but simultaneously and mainly supports and consolidates the unequal distribution of property and the monopoly of the capitalist in production. Bourgeois property is not exhausted by the relationships between commodity owners. These [owners – eds. ] are tied by exchange and the contractual relationship is the form of this exchange. Bourgeois property includes in a masked form the same relationship of domination and subordination which, in feudal property, appears chiefly as personal subordination.

This methodological mistake was related to the relegation of the class repressive role of law, and to an incorrect presentation of the relation between state and law (the state as the guarantor of exchange), and to mistakes in questions of morality (the denial of proletarian morality) and in questions of criminal law.

The attempts to distinguish between formal characteristics and abstract legal concepts expressing the relationship between commodity owners, and to proclaim this “form of law” as the subject of the Marxist theory of law, should be recognized as grossly mistaken. This paves the way to the separation of form and content, and diverts theory from the task of socialist construction to scholasticism.

The immediate relation, in practice, between the proletariat (as the ruling class) and law (as a weapon with whose help the tasks of class struggle at any given stage are decided) is in this case replaced by the abstract theoretical denial of the “narrow horizons of bourgeois law” in the name of developed communism.

From this perspective Soviet law is seen exclusively as a legacy of class society imposed on the proletariat and which haunts it until the second phase of communism. The abstract theoretical exposure of “bourgeois” law hides the task of the concrete analysis of Soviet law at different stages of the revolution. Accordingly, it gives insufficient concrete indication of the practical struggle against bourgeois influences, and against opportunist distortions of the Party’s general line on Soviet law.

The theoretical mistake of exaggerating the importance of market relations can be the basis for right opportunist conclusions about always preserving the bourgeois forms of law corresponding to private exchange. Conversely, to ignore exchange in considering the problems of Soviet law leads to “leftist” positions about the withering away of law which is now in the process of socializing the means of production, and about the withering away of economic accountability and the principle of payment according to labour, i.e. to the defence of the elimination of individual responsibility and wage egalitarianism.

Top of the page

1. K. Marx, Letter to Weydemeyer (March 5, 1852), MESW , vol.1, p.528.

2. V. I. Lenin, The Economic Content of Narodnism (1895), LCW , vol.1, p.419.

3. See Kellreiter’s article The State ;, in D. Elster et al. (eds), Handwörterbuch der Rechtswissenschaft (1923), Fischer, Jena, p.599.

4. V.I. Lenin, A Contribution to the History of the Question of Dictatorship (1920), LCW , vol.31, p.353.

5. F. Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (1888), MESW , vol.3, p.371.

6. ibid. , p.371.

7. From a resolution of the XVIIth Party Conference (1932).

8. J. Stalin, The Fourteenth Congress of the CPSU (1925), Stalin: Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow (1954), vol.7, p.374.

9. V.I. Lenin, What the “Friends of the People” Are (1894), LCW , vol.1, pp.141-42.

10. K. Marx, The Class Struggles in France (1850), MESW , vol.1, p.282.

11. P.I. Stuchka, A Course on Soviet Civil Law (1927), Communist Academy, vol.1, p.13.

12. ibid. , pp.78-79.

13. P.I. Stuchka, The Revolutionary Role of Law and State (1921), Moscow, p.15.

14. ibid. (3rd edition); and P.I. Stuchka’s article Law in Encyclopaedia of State and Law, (1925-1927), vol.3, pp.415-430.

15. “The state and law are determined by economic relations. Of course, the same must be said of civil law whose role in essence consists of the legislative clarification of the existing economic relations between individuals which are normal in the given circumstances” F. Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (1888), op. cit. p.370.

16. This erroneous conception was developed in E.B. Pashukanis, The General Theory of Law and Marxism (1927), 3rd edition. See also E.B. Pashukanis, The Situation on the Legal Theory Front , Soviet State and the Revolution of Law (1930), no.11-12; and For a Marxist-Leninist Theory of State and Law (1931) Moscow, where a critique of this mistaken conception is given.  

Last updated on 13.5.2004

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legal assignment english law

  • Housing, local and community
  • Planning and building
  • Building regulation

Government to lay new law to halt the march of gender-neutral toilets in buildings

New requirements will be brought forward for single sex toilet facilities in new non-domestic buildings to alleviate safety, privacy and dignity concerns.   

legal assignment english law

The new legislation follows the results of a consultation on the proposals, where responses showed 81% agreed with the intention for separate single-sex toilet facilities and 82% agreed with the intention to provide universal toilets where space allows.  A universal toilet is self-contained, and a fully enclosed toilet room with a wash hand basin for individual use.

Responses highlighted particular concerns from women, elderly and the disabled who felt unfairly disadvantaged as publicly accessible toilets are increasingly being converted into gender neutral facilities where users share cubicle and hand-washing facilities. This leads to increasing waiting in shared queues, decreased choice and less privacy and dignity. 

The new requirements will mean everyone can access appropriate facilities either through a separate single-sex space or a self-contained, universal toilet.   

Changes to building regulations will mean that new non-domestic buildings, including restaurants, shopping centres, offices and public toilets will be required to provide separate single-sex toilets for women and men. Self-contained, universal toilets may be provided in addition, where space allows, or instead of single-sex toilets where there isn’t enough space.   

In addition to single-sex toilets becoming the default for new non-domestic buildings and places undertaking major refurbishment, the policy encourages provision of self-contained universal toilets, which are a fully enclosed toilet room with a washbasin and hand-drying facilities for individual use.   

Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch said:

These regulations will guide organisations to design unisex and single-sex toilets, ending the rise of so-called “gender-neutral” mixed sex toilet spaces, which deny privacy and dignity to both men and women. Today’s announcement will also create better provision for women so that our particular biological, health and sanitary needs are met. This is following our work last week limiting the use of mixed-sex wards in the NHS and demonstrates how this government is committed to ensuring single-sex spaces are protected for all.

Housing Minister Lee Rowley said:

We know all members of society value safety, privacy and dignity, and this new legislation will help ensure the right facilities are in place for everyone.  It is vital that new buildings, particularly in public spaces, are serving the community with right toilet provision.

The government is clear that single-sex spaces are essential for ensuring privacy and dignity for the elderly, women, and girls. 

The move comes following a set of announcements of firm action to protect spaces for women and girls, such as the government’s introduction of a new NHS constitution which put patient safety and dignity at the heart of care, including reinforcing the NHS’s commitment to providing single-sex wards. It also follows the Minister for Women and Equalities’ call for examples of organisations issuing incorrect guidance on single-sex spaces. 

In addition, the Department for Education re-enforced that schools are required to comply with minimum standards, including that separate toilets for boys and girls aged 8 years and over are to be provided. While colleges are not subject to the same legal requirements, they should take the same approach given the same safeguarding considerations apply.

Changes to building regulations will ensure that:   

  • separate single-sex toilets facilities are provided for men and women
  • self-contained, universal toilets may be provided in addition to single-sex toilets, where space allows
  • self-contained universal toilets may be provided instead of single-sex toilets only where lack of space reasonably precludes provision of single-sex toilet accommodation

Further information

The new requirement will apply to new non-domestic buildings, or buildings which undergo a material change of use, with some exceptions.   

These exemptions are:   

  • residential homes
  • en suite facilities in individual rooms for residential purposes 
  • residential rooms in care homes
  • premises used wholly or mainly for early years provision 
  • cellular accommodation in custodial facilities

While separate toilet facilities for boys and girls aged 8 years or over must already be provided in schools, except where the toilet facility is provided in a room that can be secured from the inside and that is intended for use by one pupil at a time.  

The changes will affect England only.  

In the Building Regulations 2010 Part T and Approved Document T, the phrase universal toilets is used. This refers to self-contained, private toilets, which are a fully enclosed toilet room with a wash hand basin for individual use.

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Ukraine war latest: Thousands of civilians flee region under attack; Lord Cameron warns of 'extremely dangerous' moment in war

Fighting is ongoing in Kharkiv, Ukraine's governor for the region has said - as Russia claims it has taken control of multiple villages in its surprise offensive. Lord Cameron has warned it is an "extremely dangerous" moment in the war.

Sunday 12 May 2024 09:56, UK

Damage in Vovchansk, Kharkiv region

  • More than 4,000 civilians have fled Kharkiv region after Friday morning's surprise attack by Putin's military  
  • UK foreign secretary Lord Cameron says new Russian offensive marks 'extremely dangerous' moment for Ukraine
  • Eyewitness:   Sky's Deborah Haynes reports from town 'being flattened' in offensive
  • Analysis:  Russia's attack in Kharkiv region not a complete surprise - but the force of it is
  • Ukraine shelling kills one and injures 29 in Russia's Belgorod, says region's governor  
  • Russian forces 'contained' and have not advanced further, says Ukrainian military spokesperson
  • Live reporting by Jake Levison

We've been reporting on Vovchansk, where more than a third of the town's civilians have been evacuated due to devastating Russian attacks.

The Sky News team on the ground there have been sending us images and footage from the Ukrainian town bordering Russia.

They say it's essentially being "flattened".

Lord Cameron has spoken to Trevor Phillips this morning on Sky News.

Asked about Russia's surprise offensive in Kharkiv, the UK's foreign secretary says this is an "extremely dangerous" moment.

"This only underlines that this is an unjustified, illegal invasion by Putin into an independent, sovereign country," he says.

"And he's now, as it were, invaded it again from the north of Kharkiv. We must do everything we can to help the Ukrainians.

"That's why it's so essential we've given our £3bn a year package, and we've said that that's going to go on year after year. We're encouraging others to do the same. 

"And, crucially, the work we've done to encourage the Americans to come forward with their package. I mean, it's sad that it's taken long to come, but it will make a difference."

So has the American input - a $61bn package - come too late?

"It would have been better if it came earlier, because there's no doubt that Ukraine was suffering in the land war, as it were," he says.

"We all need to do more, that is what the UK is doing, we're leading once again. First to do tanks, first to do anti-tank weapons, first to do long-range artillery.

"Now the first to say here is a package that isn't just this year, it's next year and the year after. But the American money will make a difference - so we've got to get in there, give the Ukrainians the support they need.

"They have no problems - I was there the other day - their morale is still strong, they are still inflicting appalling casualty rates on the Russians.

"If only the Russians could see how many people they are losing.

"If other countries did all the things the UK is doing in terms of long-range weapons, in terms of the training and support. We've just basically got to make our strength count."

By  Deborah Haynes , security and defence editor

Flames and black smoke chugged from the windows of a two-storey apartment block in a frontline Ukrainian town.

Residents said a Russian missile or bomb had punched a large crater into the soil in front of the building, devastating their homes.

The attack had only happened a short while ago and the scene on Saturday morning was still chaotic, with people worried the fire would spread to a row of apartments next door.

"There are pensioners inside," said one man. "If the fire gets in, they will be burnt."

Firefighters had yet to arrive, but the town of Vovchansk, barely three miles from the Russian border, has become a warzone since Russia launched a surprise new offensive in the northeast of Ukraine in the early hours of Friday morning.

Shocked and crying, a lady, who gave her name as Valentyna, swept up broken glass on the ground.

"Everyone is suffering," the 59-year-old said.

Read more here ...

More than 4,000 residents have been evacuated from parts of the Kharkiv region where fighting is taking place.

That number's been provided by the region's governor,  Oleh Syniehubovan, who gave an update on Telegram this morning.

It's up from 2,500 yesterday afternoon. 

Mr Syniehubovan said emergency services had helped the residents leave and was providing accommodation to anyone who didn't have family or friends to stay with outside of the region.

Although Mr Syniehubovan hasn't specified where all 4,000 evacuations took place within Kharkiv, we know that at least 1,000 of them were from the town of Vovchansk, barely three miles from the Russian border.

The town with a population of just 3,000, located just three miles from Ukraine's border with Russia, has become a warzone since Russia launched its surprise attack on Friday morning.

We'll have more for you on the situation in Vovchansk shortly.

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region bordering Ukraine said one woman has been killed and 29 wounded by continuous attacks by Ukraine over the weekend.

"The city of Belgorod and Belgorod region were subjected to massive shelling by Ukrainian armed forces," governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on the Telegram late on Saturday.

He did not specify when the shelling took place, but claimed about 300 flats in 85 apartment buildings and four commercial properties were damaged, and that four roofs of apartment buildings had received direct hits.

A city hospital, a children's regional hospital, a school and two sports facilities were also damaged, he said.

The image below was supplied to Reuters via the Belgorod governor, who claims the damaged vehicles are at the site of a recent military strike in the region.

The reports have not been independently confirmed and there has been no comment from Ukrainian officials.

Kyiv officials say its attacks do not target civilians but are launched at Russia's military, energy and transport infrastructure to undermine Moscow's war effort and respond to Russian strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

Hello and welcome back to our coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Yesterday fierce fighting in Kharkiv continued after Russia launched its surprise offensive in northeastern Ukraine on Friday.

Russia's defence ministry claimed its troops had taken five border villages in the region, though Ukrainian officials insisted fighting was ongoing in those villages and Russia's forces were being "contained" there.

Ukrainian officials continued helping thousands of civilians evacuate due to the heavy shelling.

Before we press on with updates from today, here's a look at other major events from the past day. They all relate to the Russian city of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine:

The UK's Ministry of Defence highlighted reports suggesting a Russian fighter aircraft accidentally dropped a bomb on a civilian area in Belgorod last week;

Russia's defence ministry said its forces downed 21 Ukrainian rockets and 16 drones across its Belgorod, Kursk and Volgograd regions yesterday morning;

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region said one man was killed and another injured after one Ukrainian drone hit a parked truck on the border village of Novostroyevka-Pervaya.

Russia says its troops have taken five villages and the Kharkiv region's governor says they are trying to take more as fierce fighting continues.

But Nazar Voloshyn, a spokesperson for Ukraine's military in the east, insists Moscow's troops are being contained in those villages.

"The enemy is contained in the grey zone, and it is not expanding," he said in a Ukrainian television interview, according to the Kyiv Independent.

The so-called "grey zone" refers to the villages of Borysivka, Ohirtseve, Pylna and Strilecha, all of which are directly on the border with Russia's Belgorod region.

Russian officials said they had also captured another village, Pletenivka.

As we reported earlier, Kharkiv's governor says fighting is ongoing in all the villages Russia has already claimed to have taken.

More now from Kharkiv's governor, who says 2,500 people have now been evacuated from the danger zone in Kharkiv, up from 1,775 this morning.

Oleh Syniehubov says regional authorities are continuing to get civilians out of the areas where fighting continues. 

And while Russia's defence ministry said earlier its forces had taken five border villages in the Kharkiv region, Mr Syniehubov says clashes are still ongoing in all five of the villages.

"As of now the enemy keeps pressing in the north of our region. Our forces have repelled nine attacks," he said in his media briefing.

Top Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said they do not believe Russia has the capacity to launch a successful operation to capture the city of Kharkiv, home to 1.3 million people.

But analysts have suggested Mr Putin's end goal may not be to capture the entire city, but rather to better protect the Russian border and to spread Ukraine's military more thinly.

Our security and defence editor   Deborah Haynes   is reporting to us from a residential area that was just hit by a Russian strike in Vovchansk.

She's standing by a block that's in flames and says local residents she's spoken to are scared the fire will spread to other residential blocks too.

One of the residents of the destroyed block, who had suffered injuries to her leg as a result of the explosion, spoke to Haynes.

"She doesn't know what to do - she's very confused," Haynes says. "This is a scene of chaos and terror."

She says the rest of the town is also "pretty much destroyed", adding explosions can still be heard nearby.

Haynes adds the town is still very much "under attack".

The Russian military is continuing its attacks in Kharkiv, the region's governor says.

Oleh Syniehubov said President Putin's troops were still trying to advance further after reportedly taking up to 1km yesterday.

The fierce fighting is raging across three villages near the Ukrainian border, he added.

His comments came shortly after Russia's defence ministry claimed its forces had taken five border villages in the Kharkiv region. 

Ukraine is yet to directly comment on Russia's claims.

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legal assignment english law

50 of the BEST Mother-Daughter Movies

Here is a list of 50 of the BEST Mother-Daughter movies to plan your best movie night!

Each of these movies listed below has some type of dynamic relationship and even conflict between mother and daughter.

Most of the list of movies are obvious but some are not.

This list is not in a particular order, but I am wondering if there are ones missing or ones that you feel don’t below.  Let me know what you think and we will continue to edit and add to the list.

  • Little Women (1994) – This adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel follows the lives of the four March sisters as they navigate love, loss, and sisterhood under the guidance of their mother.
  • Lady Bird (2017) – A coming-of-age comedy-drama that explores the tumultuous relationship between a strong-willed teenager and her equally strong-willed mother as they navigate love, independence, and dreams.
  • Terms of Endearment (1983) – A heartfelt film that explores the complex relationship between a mother and her daughter as they face love, loss, and personal growth.
  • Stepmom (1998) – A poignant drama about a terminally ill mother (Susan Sarandon) and her ex-husband’s new partner (Julia Roberts) as they navigate the challenges of co-parenting and ultimately find common ground.
  • Mamma Mia! (2008) – A musical comedy that follows a bride-to-be as she tries to uncover the identity of her father among three potential candidates, with her mother’s past love life providing the backdrop.
  • Mermaids (1990) – Set in the 1960s, this comedy-drama follows a single mother and her two daughters as they navigate the challenges of love, growing up, and finding their place in the world.
  • Freaky Friday (2003) – A comedy film about a mother and daughter who magically switch bodies, leading to humorous and insightful moments as they gain a newfound understanding of each other’s lives.
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006) – This indie comedy-drama revolves around a dysfunctional family as they embark on a road trip to support their young daughter’s dream of competing in a beauty pageant.
  • In Her Shoes (2005) – A dramedy that explores the complex relationship between two sisters (Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette) as they navigate their differences and ultimately find common ground.
  • The Parent Trap (1998) – Identical twin sisters, separated at birth and raised by different parents, meet at summer camp and devise a plan to reunite their long-divorced parents.
  • The Princess Diaries (2001) – A charming family film about an ordinary teenager (Anne Hathaway) who discovers she is a princess and must navigate the challenges of royal life with the support of her quirky grandmother (Julie Andrews).
  • The Joy Luck Club (1993) – Adapted from Amy Tan’s novel, this film delves into the lives of four Chinese-American women and their relationships with their mothers, exploring themes of cultural identity, sacrifice, and the power of storytelling.
  • The Blind Side (2009) – Based on a true story, this inspiring film follows a wealthy woman (Sandra Bullock) who takes in a homeless teenager (Quinton Aaron) and helps him realize his potential, showcasing the transformative power of love and motherly care.
  • Brave (2012) – An animated adventure film set in the Scottish Highlands, where a young princess named Merida must break a curse and reconcile with her mother while discovering the true meaning of bravery.
  • Now and Then (1995) – This nostalgic coming-of-age film follows four friends as they reminisce about their shared childhood experiences, reflecting on the impact of their mothers’ friendships and guidance.
  • Anywhere But Here (1999) – A drama about a free-spirited mother (Susan Sarandon) who uproots her daughter’s life to pursue her own dreams, leading to a journey of self-discovery for both of them.
  • 27 Dresses (2008) – While primarily a romantic comedy, this film explores the close bond between two sisters as one of them (Katherine Heigl) selflessly supports the other through various romantic entanglements.
  • Because I Said So (2007) – A romantic comedy that centers around the meddling, yet well-intentioned, efforts of a mother (Diane Keaton) to find the perfect man for her daughter (Mandy Moore).
  • The Secret Life of Bees (2008) – Set in the 1960s, this powerful drama follows a young girl (Dakota Fanning) as she escapes an abusive household and finds solace and a sense of belonging with a group of beekeeping sisters, led by the maternal figure played by Queen Latifah.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) – A romantic comedy about a young woman (Nia Vardalos) from a Greek-American family as she navigates her cultural traditions, family dynamics, and the pursuit of love.
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002) – Based on the novel by Rebecca Wells, this film tells the story of a mother-daughter relationship strained by secrets, healing through the bond of a close-knit group of lifelong friends.
  • Nowhere Boy (2009) – A biographical drama about the teenage years of John Lennon (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his complex relationship with his mother, Julia Lennon (Anne-Marie Duff), who influences his musical journey.
  • The Help (2011) – Set in the 1960s, this film focuses on the relationships between African-American maids and the white families they work for, highlighting the motherly connections and shared struggles between the characters.
  • The Family Stone (2005) – A comedy-drama about the Stone family’s holiday gathering, where the eldest son brings his uptight girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker) home, leading to clashes, unexpected connections, and a deeper understanding of family bonds.
  • White Oleander (2002) – Based on the novel by Janet Fitch, this drama follows a young girl (Alison Lohman) who endures a series of foster homes while her incarcerated mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) exerts a lasting influence on her life.
  • Incredibles 2 (2018) – An animated superhero film that explores the dynamics of the Parr family as the mother, Helen/Elastigirl, takes the spotlight to save the world while her husband Mr. Incredible stays at home to care for their children.
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005) – Four best friends discover a pair of magical jeans that fit them all perfectly, symbolizing their enduring friendship and providing support as they navigate their individual challenges.
  • An Unfinished Life (2005) – A drama about a troubled woman (Jennifer Lopez) who moves to her estranged father-in-law’s (Robert Redford) ranch with her daughter, leading to healing, forgiveness, and a deeper understanding of family.
  • For Keeps (1988) – A romantic comedy-drama that explores the challenges faced by a teenage couple (Molly Ringwald and Randall Batinkoff) when they unexpectedly become parents and must confront the realities of adulthood and parenthood together.
  • My Girl (1991) – Set in the 1970s, this coming-of-age film follows an 11-year-old girl (Anna Chlumsky) as she deals with the loss of her mother and forms an unlikely friendship with a boy (Macaulay Culkin) from a funeral home.
  • Jack & Diane (2012) – A romantic drama that delves into the passionate relationship between two teenage girls and the impact it has on their individual lives and the lives of their families.
  • Girl, Interrupted (1999) – Based on a memoir, this drama focuses on a young woman (Winona Ryder) who voluntarily commits herself to a mental institution, forming unexpected bonds and finding solace in the presence of other patients, including a motherly figure (Angelina Jolie).
  • The Duchess (2008) – A period drama based on the life of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley), as she navigates the challenges of her loveless marriage and seeks independence, all while trying to be a loving mother.
  • Aquamarine (2006) – A teen fantasy film about two friends who discover a mermaid named Aquamarine and help her find true love while learning valuable lessons about friendship and growing up.
  • Whip It (2009) – A sports comedy-drama about a rebellious teenager (Ellen Page) who finds her passion in roller derby, with the support and encouragement of her unconventional mother (Marcia Gay Harden).
  • Mermaids (1990) – A comedy-drama about a single mother and her two daughters as they navigate the challenges of love, growing up, and finding their place in the world.
  • Anna Karenina (2012) – Based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel, this period drama follows the tragic love affair of Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley), a woman torn between her duty as a mother and her desires for love and freedom.
  • The Sisterhood of Night (2014) – A mystery drama that explores the consequences faced by a group of girls involved in a secret society, with their mothers and the community at large trying to unravel the truth.
  • Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008) – Set during the Great Depression, this family film centers around a resourceful young girl (Abigail Breslin) who dreams of becoming a journalist while her mother (Julia Ormond) teaches her valuable life lessons.
  • Little Secrets (2001) – A family film about a young girl who runs a secret business where she helps others keep their deepest secrets, all while facing her own challenges and learning important lessons from her mother.
  • The Guilt Trip (2012) – A comedy about an inventor (Seth Rogen) who embarks on a road trip with his overprotective mother (Barbra Streisand), leading to humorous and heartfelt moments as they confront their relationship and discover more about each other.
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002) – This film tells the story of a mother-daughter relationship strained by secrets, healing through the bond of a close-knit group of lifelong friends.
  • 20th Century Women (2016) – Set in 1979, this drama explores the relationships between a single mother (Annette Bening), her teenage son, and the young women who influence his life, providing unique perspectives on womanhood and motherhood.
  • Riding in Cars with Boys (2001) – A dramedy based on the memoir of Beverly Donofrio, this film follows a young woman (Drew Barrymore) who becomes a teenage mother and must navigate the challenges of parenthood while pursuing her dreams.
  • Jackie & Ryan (2014) – A romantic drama about a single mother (Katherine Heigl) who forms a connection with a traveling musician (Ben Barnes) and finds inspiration and support in their relationship.
  • Elsa & Fred (2014) – A romantic comedy-drama about a widower (Christopher Plummer) who forms an unlikely friendship and romance with his eccentric neighbor (Shirley MacLaine), bringing newfound joy and spontaneity into both their lives.
  • Anywhere But Here (1999) – A drama about a free-spirited mother who uproots her daughter’s life to pursue her own dreams, leading to a journey of self-discovery for both of them.
  • Morning Glory (2010) – A comedy-drama that follows the career aspirations of a young television producer (Rachel McAdams) as she takes on the challenge of revitalizing a morning show, with her relationship with her mother (Diane Keaton) serving as an important source of support.
  • The Kids Are All Right (2010) – A comedy-drama about a same-sex couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) whose family dynamic is challenged when their children seek out their biological father, leading to a thoughtful exploration of modern family dynamics and the bonds between mothers and their children.
  • Room (2015) – Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue, this intense drama follows a young mother (Brie Larson) and her son as they escape from captivity and adjust to life outside, highlighting the powerful and unconditional love between a mother and child.

How to plan a Mother-Daughter Movie Night!

  • Make a date with your mom or your daughter!
  • Plan snacks and popcorn and favorite beverages!
  • Keep it light-hearted and entertain the conversations during the movie!
  • More tips on Family Movie Nights .

Here is a list of 50 of the BEST Mother-Daughter movies to plan your best movie night! Each of these movies listed below has some type of dynamic relationship and even conflict between mother and daughter. Most of the list of movies are obvious but some are not. 50 of the BEST Mother-Daughter Movies This […]

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COMMENTS

  1. Assignment

    Assignment. The transfer of a right from one party to another. For example, a party to a contract (the assignor) may, as a general rule and subject to the express terms of a contract, assign its rights under the contract to a third party (the assignee) without the consent of the party against whom those rights are held. Obligations cannot be ...

  2. Assignment and novation

    Legal and equitable assignment. The Law of Property Act creates the ability to legally assign a debt or any other chose in action where the debtor, trustee or other relevant person is notified in writing. If the assignment complied with the formalities in the Act it is a legal assignment, otherwise it will be an equitable assignment.

  3. FAQs on assignments in finance transactions

    the law of assignment in English law finance transactions. 1. Are all notified assignments legal assignments? No, while all legal assignments must have been notified to the debtor, notice to the debtor is not enough by itself to make an assignment a legal assignment. The full requirements for a legal assignment are set out in the answer to ...

  4. Assignment (law)

    Assignment (law) Assignment [1] is a legal term used in the context of the laws of contract and of property. In both instances, assignment is the process whereby a person, the assignor, transfers rights or benefits to another, the assignee. [2] An assignment may not transfer a duty, burden or detriment without the express agreement of the assignee.

  5. Assignments

    The assignment. English law distinguishes two types of assignment: legal and equitable. To assign the legal interest in something means that you have assigned simply the title to that property and ...

  6. Why It Matters (Chapter 15)

    Summary. This chapter sets out a number of practical implications from the analysis in the preceding chapters. It explains how, on the model of equitable and statutory assignment set out in this book, anti-assignment clauses may have a limited effect even in connection with equitable assignments. It also explains how the 'rule' in Dearle v.

  7. assignment

    assignment. Assignment is a legal term whereby an individual, the "assignor," transfers rights, property, or other benefits to another known as the " assignee .". This concept is used in both contract and property law. The term can refer to either the act of transfer or the rights /property/benefits being transferred.

  8. Legal Assignment: Everything You Need to Know

    A legal assignment occurs when: In the Purman Estate case, the court stated that a legal assignment is a transfer of property, or of some right or interest, from one person to another. It also stated that it must be the proper transfer of one whole interest in that property. An assignment of rights occurs when an assignor gives up or transfers ...

  9. UK

    To take effect as a legal assignment under English law, an assignment must comply with section 136(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925 ("LPA 1925"). This requires the assignment to be: (i) in writing; (ii) absolute; and (iii) expressly notified in writing to the other party to the contract ("debtor"). In practice, parties tend to effect ...

  10. Oxford Legal Research Library: The Law of Assignment

    Abstract. This book is the leading text on the law relating to intangible property or choses in action. Its clear and approachable structure covers all forms of intangible property (debts, rights under contract, securities, intellectual property, leases, rights/causes of action, and equitable rights), considering the nature of intangible ...

  11. Assignments: The Basic Law

    Ordinarily, the term assignment is limited to the transfer of rights that are intangible, like contractual rights and rights connected with property. Merchants Service Co. v. Small Claims Court, 35 Cal. 2d 109, 113-114 (Cal. 1950). An assignment will generally be permitted under the law unless there is an express prohibition against assignment ...

  12. RETHINKING ASSIGNABILITY

    English law's answer to this question is complex, and many of its rules are difficult to justify. In some respects, the law appears unreasonably pro-assignment, whereas sometimes it denies assignability to rights that should be assignable. ... "Debts and Non-Assignment Clauses", pp. 424-26; Turner, P.G., " Legal Assignment of Rights of ...

  13. assign

    Assign is the act of transferring rights, property, or other benefits to another party (the assignee) from the party who holds such benefits under contract (the assignor). This concept is used in both contract and property law. Contract Law Under contract law, when one party assigns a contract, the assignment represents both: (1) an assignment of rights; and (2) a delegation of duties.

  14. English law assignments of part of a debt: Practical considerations

    Under English law, the beneficial ownership of part of a debt can be assigned, although the legal ownership cannot. 1 This means that an assignment of part of a debt will take effect as an equitable assignment instead of a legal assignment. Joining the assignor to proceedings against the debtor

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    These resources address a broad range of legal writing issues, and will be updated periodically. Please contact [email protected] with questions or feedback. For information about the Law School Writing Center, or to make an appointment, please visit the Writing Center main page. Handouts: Structure, Organization, and Clarity.

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    The first one implies complete confluence of the legal and the literary languages. The text of a law written in Russian language must be clear to all of its native speakers; law abidance involves understanding of laws, in this way, specific legal language reduces to professional slang of lawyers.

  18. Balance of Interests as a Principle of Civil Law: Some Aspects of Legal

    The research considers the category of reasonable balance of interests in the context of civil relations. The authors of the article highlight the need to restrict permissibility as a method of civil regulation aimed at protecting the rights and interests of the weaker party in some legal relations. A reasonable balance of interests is ensured by laws and agreements, whose conditions become ...

  19. If a contract is silent on assignment does the law imply that the

    Where a contract is silent on assignment and transferability, i.e. there is no assignment and transfer provision, am I right that in my understanding that, under English law, the parties are deemed to have an unfettered right to assign and transfer their rights and obligations under the contract to a third party without having the need to obtain the other party's consent?

  20. PDF The Concept "Rules-based Order" in International Legal Discourses

    order, the rule of law, international legal system, soft law, normativity in international law FOR CITATION: Vylegzhanin A.N. [et al.]. The Term "Rules-based International Order" in Inter ...

  21. Evgeny Pashukanis: Marxist Theory of State and Law (1932)

    1. The doctrine of socio-economic formations as a basis for the Marxist theory of state and law. The doctrine of state and law is part of a broader whole, namely, the complex of sciences which study human society. The development of these sciences is in turn determined by the history of society itself, i.e. by the history of class struggle.

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  26. 50 of the BEST Mother-Daughter Movies

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