Laws to Know

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Hammurabi, the king of Babylon in the eighteenth century B.C., was the first to record the laws and their consequences.

The next time someone says it's the law, you could ask, “What kind?”

Blue Laws

These are also known as Sabbath laws. They were passed to restrict or forbid business and recreation on the Sabbath, which is the Christian day of rest. One blue law in some states forbids the sale of alcoholic beverages before noon on Sundays.

Common Laws

Rules based on custom or long usage that are usually not recorded as laws. They began in England.

Law of the Land

A phrase from the Magna Carta, the basic document of English law. Today the term refers to laws that are fundamental to democracy.

Martial Law

Temporary rule by the military that is imposed on citizens during a war, an emergency (like a natural disaster), or a political or economic crisis. Under martial law, military laws are followed instead of civil laws.

Moral Law

The law of one's conscience.

Murphy's Laws

No one is sure who Murphy was, but these laws are well known. They are:

  1. Nothing is as easy as it looks.
  2. Everything will take longer than you think.
  3. If anything can go wrong, it will.

In times of frustration, people will often remark that things are going according to Murphy's laws.

Parkinson's Law

C. Northcote Parkinson, a British writer, formulated this rule: “Work expands to fill the time allotted to it; or, conversely, the amount of work completed is in inverse proportion to the number of people employed.” Simply said: If you have an hour to do a 5-minute job, it will take an hour to do it. A large number of people accomplish less work than a smaller number of people.

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