Difference Between Bylaws and Constitution (With Table)

For any organisation or community to operate effectively, a basic set of rules and regulations is necessary. These rules and regulations come in several forms. Bylaws and constitution refer to two such documents that prescribe principles of conduct. While the two may seem similar, they are considerably different in their nature and operation.

Bylaws vs Constitution 

The difference between bylaws and the constitution is that bylaws are specific. For example, bylaws may specify how members of a company should operate. In contrast, the constitution is more general. For example, the constitution of a country serves to satisfy the goals and aspirations of its citizens. 

Bylaws refer to a set of rules that serve as the basis of an organisation or a community. They usually have a limited area of application. In addition, bylaws are present as written rules that are generally specific. It is vital that the wording of the bylaws should be specific. It avoids any flexible or varied interpretation of the bylaws. 

The Constitution refers to a basic set of principles or rules that an organisation or community should follow. The Constitution is general and may be present as a written or unwritten document. India has the longest constitution in the world. In contrast, Mexico has the shortest constitution in the world.

Comparison Table Between Bylaws and Constitution

Parameters of ComparisonBylawsConstitution 
DefinitionBylaw refers to any law or rule defined by an organisation for the purpose of regulating itself. The constitution refers to a legal document that consists of rules and regulations that specify the norms of behaviour and a moral code of conduct.
Level of AuthorityBylaws must work under a higher authority. The Constitution is the highest level of authority. 
Nature Bylaws are specific in nature.The Constitution is general in nature.
Government Bylaws are set-up by the local government.The Constitution is set-up by the federal government
Written/UnwrittenBylaws are written documents. The Constitution may be written or unwritten. 

What is Bylaws?

By definition, bylaw refers to any law or rule defined by an organisation to regulate itself. At most times, bylaws are set by a higher authority. Institutions such as government or legislature specify the scale of control that bylaws may exercise. Examples of organisations that may set up bylaws include a locality, business corporation, or municipality. 

When a company or an organisation comes into existence, the first step is to create bylaws. The bylaws here are generally a set of written rules. A role of the bylaws is to ensure the smooth daily functioning of tasks in the organisation or company. Additionally, different organisations or companies may have varying bylaws. 

Bylaws address issues like the reason for the set-up of the organisation, its member composition, duties of the board of directors, their election procedure, tenure, and so on. It is vital that the wording of the bylaws should be specific. It avoids any flexible or varied interpretation of the bylaws. Moreover, it prevents any disturbances in the company due to misuse of rules. 

When drafting the bylaws, it is vital to note that the bylaws don’t contradict the constitution. In the bylaws document, the last section provides room for amendments. It also specifies the procedure for amendments, who can initiate the amendments and the minimum votes required for the approval. In conclusion, bylaws ensure conformance and discipline in an organisation. 

What is Constitution?

By definition, the constitution refers to a legal document that consists of rules and regulations that specify the norms of behaviour and a moral code of conduct. A constitution plays several roles and functions in society. It generally consists of fundamental principles and a directive principle of state policy

The Constitution ensures coordination and assurance. It sets up rules for a basic level of coordination among the members of a community. Additionally, the constitution specifies who has the power to make decisions and how an organisation will be formed. It also places limits on the authority of individuals or groups within an organisation to avoid misuse of power. 

A constitution may be set up for a company, a large-scale organisation or an entire country. It may be a written or an unwritten document and is usually a component of federal governments. Moreover, the Constitution of a country lays down the laws and rules of conduct. 

The Constitution is open to amendments of some laws and rules. However, a constitution also comprises some laws that are rigid and permanent. For a large community like a country, a constitution serves as a founding component. In conclusion, a constitution serves as a rulebook to ensure harmonious coexistence within a community. 

Main Differences Between Bylaws and Constitution

  1. Bylaw refers to any law or rule defined by a community to regulate itself. On the other hand, the constitution refers to a legal document that consists of rules and regulations that specify the norms of behaviour and a moral code of conduct.
  2. The bylaws are in written format. In contrast, the constitution is available both in written and non-written forms.
  3. Bylaws are specific. On the other hand, the constitution is relatively general. 
  4. Bylaws are set up by the local government. In contrast, the Constitution is set up by the federal government. 
  5. Bylaws must work under a higher authority. On the other hand, the Constitution is the highest level of power. 

Conclusion

To sum up, bylaws and constitutions vary in their area of operation, role, nature, and intensity. Bylaws are specific. On the other hand, the constitution is relatively general. The bylaws are in written format. In contrast, the constitution is available both in written and non-written form. It is usually a component of federal governments. 

Both bylaws and constitutions are open to amendments. However, a constitution has some laws that are rigid and not open to amendments. Additionally, the purpose behind both bylaws and the constitution is to ensure harmony and avoid conflicts. In conclusion, bylaws and constitutions have both differences and similarities.

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=MYptAAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA51&dq=constitution+&ots=ULaU23iWm0&sig=BP4h2q3nOrwXVQP5_1T5IejH_74 
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3782083 
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