Public and Private Law Enforcement – Essay Example

The paper "Public and Private Law Enforcement" is an outstanding example of a law essay. Consumer laws like any others have to be actively enforced for them to be effective. The laws are created to protect the rights of the consuming public from exploitation by aggressive and unethical business practices. They are designed to ensure that there are fair competition and true information in the market-place.  Examples include the Consumer Product Safety Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. There are two main ways of enforcing them. Chaudhary (2002, pp 28).
The first is through the public enforcement method where government law enforcement agencies including the police, detectives and public attorneys pursue the case. An example is the United States v. Ronald Dale Cole, 1:07-CR-284 (N.D. Ga.) of May 30, 2008, in which Ronald pleaded guilty to charge the charge that, using the name Ronnie Cole Inc., he reset and altered an odometer in violation of the law.
The second is private enforcement. This involves individuals acting in person or as a group to file in court complaints about issues affecting them. This could be because the case is rejected by the police or attorney as being unsustainable in court or in contravention of the rights of others. That may not be acceptable or convincing to the litigant. An example is Case Number: SC07-2423, Benjamin v. Tandem Healthcare. Filed in the Supreme Court of Florida on December 23, 2008, Jodi Benjamin accused the health facility of violation of nursing home resident’s rights and negligence wrongful death, leading to the wrongful death of Marlene Gagnon.
Public Enforcement
Public enforcement is characterized by the following. First, decisions are made on the basis of the public good rather than to the advantage of the individual. Public enforcers apply the law while considering the ramifications and consequences. For instance, if one buys medicinal drugs which happen to have expired, then the seller is a public menace. But if it happens that the complaining consumer took an overdose of the drugs and that fell ill, then he is the public menace. Nevertheless, the individual complainant may decide to pursue the case privately all the same.
Another advantage is that public enforcement protects all consumers equally rather than just looking after the selfish interests of an individual. In this way, the law that applies to one consumer applies to all consumers without favor or discrimination.
Thirdly, public enforcement costs the individual nothing since Government bears the cost of enforcement. This ensures that both the rich and the poor can access justice equally.
Fourthly, wrongful conduct may be punished as a civil or criminal case. Private litigation is only treated as civil in nature.
Finally, public enforcement has political backing since the government has a vested interest in showing that it is protecting the public. Conversely, if the government feels politically threatened by the case then it may be abandoned unfairly. 
Private Enforcement
In private enforcement, the individual gets to make enforcement decisions instead of these being made on their behalf by government attorneys or policemen. Secondly, compensation goes directly to the consumer since this is a civil case and the government has not undergone in the process. Thirdly, punishment is through deterrent punishments in the form of heavy compensation to the litigant. Then, the government does not undertake any costs at all in this kind of litigation which is an advantage to the taxpayer.
Finally, the litigant can avoid the disadvantages of political expediency which may otherwise interfere with the case.
Whichever of the two methods a consumer uses to enforce the law, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider.