Difference Between Public Law and Private Law

Justice is the fair and consistent application of laws and principles to ensure everyone is treated the same way.

Public law and private law are two broad categories of law with different purposes and interactions governed by each. Public law addresses issues that impact society or the entire state. It includes constitutional law, criminal law, and administrative law. These areas regulate the relationship between individuals and the government by establishing guidelines for government conduct and designating the rights and responsibilities of public entities. Criminal law, for instance, governs actions deemed to be offences against society, whereas administrative law governs the operation of government agencies.

Private law, on the other hand, focuses on legal issues that typically involve private individuals or entities. It consists of disciplines such as contract law, tort law, and property law. This branch of law establishes rules for private transactions and relationships. For instance, contract law governs agreements between parties, whereas property law regulates asset ownership and transfer. Private law governs relationships between individuals or private entities, whereas public law governs relationships between individuals and the state. Notably, while violations of public law can result in criminal prosecution, violations of private law typically lead to civil litigation.

What is Public Law?

Public law is an extensive area of law that deals with how people interact with the government and how various facets of the government interact with each other. It has three main parts: constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law. Constitutional law guides both the state and federal governments on how to operate. It explains how the different parts of the government are set up and what their powers and limits are. It also defends basic human rights and freedoms by setting rules for equality, freedom of speech, religion, and privacy.

Administrative law is about how government departments should work. It says how these agencies can make and enforce rules, make sure people follow them and settle disagreements. This part of public law helps to make sure that the executive branch’s power is balanced by checks and balances. Criminal law is another important part of public law. It deals with actions that adversely affect society, even if the direct victim is a single person. It lists the different kinds of crimes, how they should be punished, and the rules for bringing criminal charges. In the end, public law is an important part of keeping a society that is just, fair, and well-run. It makes it easier for the government to work, tells people what their rights and responsibilities are, and makes sure the government stays within the law.

What is Private Law?

Private law is a branch of the law that deals with issues between private people or businesses. It focuses on personal, property, and contract rights. Contract law, tort law, property law, and family law are all parts of it. Contract law decides how agreements between two or more parties should be made, understood, and carried out. It talks about things like breaking a contract, what can be done about it, and how to understand the rules of a contract. Tort law deals with legal wrongs that don’t have to do with a contract. This includes damage done by carelessness, slander, being a pest, or trespassing. It usually focuses on making up for wrongs done to people.

Property law is about who owns and how to use both physical and intangible things. It sets rules about real estate, personal property, and intellectual property. It also spells out rights and responsibilities linked to buying, using, and selling property. Family law deals with things like marriage, divorce, control of children, and adoption. It tells people what their rights and responsibilities are in their homes. Private law, in its simplest form, is the set of rules that govern relationships and disagreements between people or private entities, with a focus on private rights and duties. Most violations lead to civil lawsuits, which try to settle disagreements and provide solutions, which often come in the form of damages.

Difference Between Public Law and Private Law

The term “public law” refers to the body of law that governs interactions between citizens and the government. Governance, crime, and public administration are just a few of the societal concerns it addresses. Relationships between private parties are regulated by private law, which encompasses areas such as contract law, tort law, property law, and family law. It addresses issues of privacy, ownership, and contracts. In essence, public law regulates how the state interacts with citizens, and private law governs how citizens interact with one another or with private businesses. In most cases, violators of public law face criminal prosecution, while violators of private law face civil litigation. We’ve outlined the main distinctions between public law and private law below.

Subject Matter

While public law addresses societal or state-level concerns like governance and public order, private law centres on interactions between private parties.


Constitutional law, criminal law, and administrative law all fall under the umbrella of public law. Contract law, tort law, real estate law, and family law are all examples of private law.


Relationships between citizens and the state, as well as those between the several branches of government, are governed by public law. Relationships between private parties are regulated by private law.

Legal Action

Infractions of public law may result in criminal charges. When private law has been broken, the result is typically civil litigation.


While public law’s purpose is to safeguard citizens and keep the peace, private law is concerned solely with resolving conflicts between individuals and giving them access to appropriate remedies.


Government entities, such as the police and regulatory boards, are responsible for enforcing public law. The most common method of enforcing private law is through private litigation.


The duties and protections of private persons and public agencies are laid out in public law. The relationships between private parties, both individuals and businesses, are governed by private law.


Infractions of public law can result in legal consequences including monetary fines, jail time, or community service. Damages in lieu of performance, or “compensatory damages,” are common remedies for private law violations.