Formal mechanisms derive their structure and power from the laws, policies, and regulations made by the government. They operate as a part of the government and are funded by the state. Their function is to interpret and resolve conflicts about the laws, as well as determine responsibility for violations of the laws. In federal systems, formal justice mechanisms may also derive from the power of a specified federal entity within the nation-state.
The official courts form the centre of the formal justice sector. Key actors in the formal justice sector can include judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, civil attorneys, staff that support the operation of the courts, and those who provide court-mandated services to survivors. The formal justice sector may also include non-court mechanisms, such as arbitration, mediation, or restorative justice.
Law enforcement officers, such as police, also interact closely with both the formal and informal justice sector. For more information on law enforcement see the Security Sector module on this site.