Private law

Private law refers to the set of legal doctrines and rules governing relationships between private individuals. It is very different from public law, which covers the relationship between the state and the individual. This type of law covers a number of key areas of law: contracts, property, equity and trusts, grievances, succession and family law are among the most important. While many of the basic principles of private law derive from the common law created by judges, it increasingly relies on or restructures customary law. Many relationships governed by private law are intimate in nature, such as family relationships, but may also extend to commercial and financial relationships.

What is private law?

Private law is the type of law whose function is to regulate private relations between individuals in order to protect moral and patrimonial interests. It is a branch of civil and commercial law.

About private law

Private law consists of a branch of law that encompasses all kinds of situations related to particular individuals who are related to each other, encompassing all the different norms and parameters between individuals and the State, if it participates in a particular function. It is based primarily on civil law and is responsible for regulating the individual’s conduct when acting as the owner of a patrimony and as an element of the family or a particular social group.


The main characteristics of private law are as follows:

Juridical nature of private law

It is based mainly on the internal private legal law of the State and on the sovereignty it exercises over the States. It is based on the fact that the law must be nationalistic or internal, but nevertheless, it could be divided into two groups, those that consider private international law as an international branch, and those that consider it as a public international law branch.


The creation of private law dates back to ancient Rome. However, whether private law is rather a branch of law with more modern origins, is still under discussion. In Rome, despite these thoughts, legal cases were resolved with foreign natural elements. Other authors affirm that its origins are in Greece, where there were three fundamental concepts, the law, the city and the citizens, aspects that shaped the architecture of society.


Three aspects which speak to us about the application of law in private cases are the Treaty of Sardis and Ephesus, the defense of Socrates and the Egyptian contracts. In Rome, the quality of person law was applied to citizens and foreigners. It is believed that private law began in the eleventh century, with specialists in classical Roman law, as they were responsible for giving meaning to the law words to make clear the function of this.


Its main objective is to regulate the different relationships between individuals within a state. They intervene in contracts of sale or rental of goods within a public administration, and a private party or society, taking into account the rules of commercial law.

Sources of private law

The sources of private law are: law, custom, jurisprudence, doctrine and the general principles of law itself.


The fundamental principles of private law are the autonomy of will, as each party pursues its own interests, and the principle of equality, as all individuals find themselves in it within the framework of the various private acts.


The purposes of private law are to provide legal certainty for individual parties and the state. To provide legal security in order to obtain security, certainty and property protection. To have efficiency to be able to be applied in courts if necessary, for such reason the norms must be considered as legitimate. Achieve stability and precision.


The greatest importance is that it promotes the need for equality among individuals, which seeks to achieve equity in the interpretation of different laws through the State and its administrations or government entities in a sovereign position.

Some examples

Some examples in which private law is used are: enforcement of contracts, marriages, professional relationships, order within private organizations, airspace law, legal status of individuals within the international field, relationships between parents and children.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Private law. Recovered on 24 February, 2024, de Euston96:

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