Public Law: Theory Versus Practice

Awards Edition 21'

Legal Practices


Sarah Al Ghorab

“In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution,” said third United States President and Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson.

To elaborate upon the theme of this edition, a light must be shed on the academia of law. As public law entails various branches of law brought together for the public good, it is worth highlighting its importance from the perspective of a scholar to convey knowledge to young practitioners.

Public Law and Rule of Law

Public Law is concerned primarily with the public sector in the sense of regulating the powers of the institutions of the state, how they relate to each other and how they relate to individuals. On the other hand, private law deals with the matters particularly related to individuals’ private interests. The former thus includes: constitutional law, administrative law, criminal law, tax law, environmental law, public international law, and international humanitarian law.

All laws underpin the pillars of a modern legal state-promoting rule of law, which is a fundamental principle meaning “absolute supremacy of regular law as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power or even wide discretionary power on the part of government,” Jurist and Author Albert Dicey said.

Several factors measure the Rule of Law performance in a state, inter alia, constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, transparent government fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice. In assessing Egypt’s rank according to the 2020 WJP Rule of Law Index, one finds the urge of working on both educational and practical levels to enhance the state’s position, which in turn benefits individuals’ rights and freedoms.

Public Law “Tactics?”

Public law is a mandatory class at university level; students are introduced to different aspects of Public Law through a comparative analysis. That, in a way, unleashes their analytical and critical skills towards the recent issues facing the globe and the state policies in responding to them.


Public law is an interesting area for law graduates. On the national level, a professional in public law, who has a genuine interest in the executive, can work in fields such as litigation (e.g., a judge or an attorney), regulatory work, legislative drafting and advocacy, policymaking, etc. On the other hand, individuals who have an interest in the field may join political parties towards political participation and political activism (state’s policies).

It is significant to question the uniqueness of international law by pointing out that constitutional law in fact shares all the aspects that are intended to make international law so questionable. It should be noted that the traditional international/domestic difference might obscure what is, for various objectives, a more crucial and procreative conceptual divide. That divide is among ‘public law’ schemes like international and constitutional law that signify and govern the behavior of states and governments and ‘ordinary domestic law’ that is managed by the state public institutions.

During the time of COVID-19, governments around the globe have requested to constrain the behavior of private citizens and groups in ways that many nationals and residents could not have anticipated. These policies caused many people to ask: Are these restrictions constitutional? Does the government have authority to make these rules? How much regulation is too much, and can we do anything to avoid these constraints?