Act vs Law: Difference and Comparison

An act is a proposed piece of legislation that has been introduced and passed by a legislative body, while a law is a formally enacted and legally binding rule or regulation that has gone through the legislative process and is enforceable in a jurisdiction.

Key Takeaways

  1. An act is a legislative proposal approved by the legislature and signed into law by the executive branch.
  2. Law is a system of rules and regulations that the government enforces.
  3. An act is a specific piece of legislation, while law refers to the entire body of rules and regulations that govern a society.

Act vs Law

Act is passed by the legislative, while laws are the rules and regulations enforced by the government. Act is a decree that is passed by the respective legislature, while law is a collection of mandatory rules to be followed. Act establishes laws, while law ensures people follow them.

Act vs Law

The law can be implemented or take the form of ordinance, regulations, rules, by-laws, orders, statutes, amendments, etc. Law is a rule of procedure established by agreement, authority, or custom.

Anything that holds power to grant legal obligations, rights, liabilities, etc., to the country’s citizens is termed as Law.

An Act is a decree or law approved by the respective legislature, i.e. State Legislative Assembly or Parliament. A bill is placed in the legislature and then voted on by the members of the legislative body.

If passed, it is sent to the Governor or President for approval. Once approved, it is enacted as an Act.

Comparison Table

DefinitionA decree or statute passed by a legislative body, such as a parliament or congress.A system of rules and regulations that are established and enforced by a government or other authority.
OriginCreated through a formal legislative process, involving debate, voting, and approval by different legislative bodies.Can evolve from a variety of sources, including legislation, judicial decisions, and common law traditions.
ScopeDeals with a specific subject or issue.Can be broad and encompass a wide range of subjects and issues.
Level of detailOften contains detailed provisions and procedures for implementing the law.May be more general and rely on regulations or judicial interpretations to provide specific details.
ExampleClean Air Act, Affordable Care Act, Patriot ActCriminal law, civil law, constitutional law, international law
PurposeTo regulate specific aspects of society, protect rights, ensure public safety, and promote order.To establish a framework for governing a society and resolving disputes.
EnforcementEnforced by government agencies and courts.Enforced by a variety of means, including government agencies, courts, and social pressure.

What is an Act?

An act refers to a formal decree or statute passed by a legislative body, such as a parliament, congress, or state legislature. It is a legally binding law that has been debated, voted on, and approved by the appropriate authorities.

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Here are some key characteristics of an act:

  • Formal passage:¬†It follows a specific legislative process,¬†involving introduction,¬†debate,¬†amendment,¬†voting,¬†and approval by the relevant legislative bodies.
  • Legally binding:¬†Once passed,¬†it becomes law and carries the force of law,¬†enforceable by government agencies and courts.
  • Specificity:¬†It focuses on a particular subject or issue,¬†providing detailed provisions and procedures for implementation and enforcement.
  • Naming and numbering:¬†Acts are assigned a unique name or number for identification and reference purposes.
  • Changeable:¬†Acts can be amended or repealed through subsequent legislation passed by the same legislative body.

Examples of acts:

  • The Clean Air Act:¬†Regulates air pollution in the United States.
  • The Affordable Care Act:¬†Expands health insurance coverage in the United States.
  • The Patriot Act:¬†Expands the government‚Äôs surveillance powers in the United States.
  • The Criminal Code:¬†Defines and punishes criminal offenses in Canada.
  • The Constitution:¬†Establishes the fundamental legal framework of a country.

Distinguishing between acts and laws:

While acts are considered a type of law, they differ in some ways:

  • Specificity:¬†Acts are more specific and focused than laws,¬†addressing a particular issue or subject area.
  • Source:¬†Acts are created through a formal legislative process,¬†while laws can evolve from various sources like judicial decisions and common law traditions.
  • Level of detail:¬†Acts contain detailed provisions and procedures for implementation,¬†while laws may be more general and rely on regulations for specific details.
act vs law

What is Law?

Law refers to a set of rules and regulations established and enforced by a government or other authority to govern behavior. These rules aim to maintain order, protect individual rights, and ensure the smooth functioning of society.

Here are some key characteristics of law:

  • System of rules:¬†It encompasses a comprehensive and interconnected set of rules that apply to various aspects of human behavior.
  • Enforced by authority:¬†Laws are not mere suggestions but are enforced by government agencies like courts,¬†police,¬†and other institutions.
  • Binding nature:¬†Individuals and entities are bound to obey the law,¬†and failure to do so can result in sanctions,¬†penalties,¬†or legal consequences.
  • Dynamic and evolving:¬†Laws are not static but evolve over time through various mechanisms,¬†including legislation,¬†judicial decisions,¬†and changes in social norms.
  • Different types and sources:¬†Law encompasses various types,¬†including criminal,¬†civil,¬†constitutional,¬†administrative,¬†and international law.¬†These laws can originate from different sources like statutes enacted by legislatures,¬†judicial decisions,¬†and customary practices.

Here are some of the main functions of law:

  • Maintaining order and protecting society:¬†Laws establish a framework for peaceful coexistence and prevent chaos and anarchy.
  • Protecting individual rights and freedoms:¬†Laws safeguard fundamental rights like freedom of speech,¬†religion,¬†and property.
  • Resolving disputes and conflicts:¬†Laws provide a mechanism for resolving disputes between individuals and entities through courts and legal procedures.
  • Promoting social justice and equality:¬†Laws aim to create a society where everyone is treated fairly and equally,¬†regardless of background or status.
  • Guiding and regulating behavior:¬†Laws guide individuals and organizations,¬†encouraging social responsibility and ethical conduct.

Main Differences Between Act and Law

  1. Stage in the Legislative Process:
    • Act: An act is a proposed legislation introduced and passed by a legislative body, such as a parliament or congress. It represents a proposal for a new law or an amendment to an existing law.
    • Law: A law is a formally enacted and legally binding rule or regulation that has successfully completed the legislative process. It has been passed by the legislative body, signed by the relevant authority (such as the president or monarch), and is enforceable within the jurisdiction.
  2. Binding Legal Status:
    • Act: An act does not have immediate legal force or binding status; it becomes a law once approved and enacted through the legislative process.
    • Law: A law is legally binding and enforceable once it has been enacted and is in effect. It governs the conduct of the jurisdiction‚Äôs individuals, organizations, and institutions.
  3. Scope:
    • Act: An act can cover a wide range of subjects, issues, or areas of governance, including creating, amending, or repealing laws on various topics.
    • Law: A law can address specific legal matters, rights, obligations, and regulations within a particular jurisdiction. Laws can pertain to diverse areas, such as criminal justice, civil rights, taxation, etc.
  4. Hierarchy:
    • Act: Acts are considered a higher legislative authority and serve as the framework for creating and amending laws.
    • Law: Laws are the specific rules and regulations derived from acts, and they provide detailed guidelines and provisions for governing specific aspects of society or government.
  5. Naming Conventions:
    • Act: Acts are named based on their legislative origin, such as ‚ÄúThe Immigration Act of 2022‚ÄĚ or ‚ÄúThe Taxation Amendment Act.‚ÄĚ
    • Law: Laws may have descriptive titles but are commonly referred to by their legal code or number, such as ‚ÄúTitle VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.‚ÄĚ
  6. Enforcement and Penalties:
    • Act: An act does not specify enforcement mechanisms or penalties for non-compliance. These details are outlined in the corresponding laws derived from the act.
    • Law: Laws specify the enforcement mechanisms, penalties, and consequences for violations, making them legally binding and enforceable.
Difference Between Act and Law
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Last Updated : 13 February, 2024

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20 thoughts on ‚ÄúAct vs Law: Difference and Comparison‚ÄĚ

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