Bylaws vs Constitution: Difference and Comparison

A basic set of rules and regulations is necessary for any organisation or community to operate effectively. These rules and regulations come in several forms. Bylaws and constitutions 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.

Key Takeaways

  1. Bylaws are rules and regulations that govern an organization’s internal operations, while a constitution is a set of fundamental principles that outlines the organization’s purpose and structure.
  2. Bylaws are more specific and deal with day-to-day operations, while a constitution is more general and sets out the organization’s broader goals and objectives.
  3. Bylaws can be amended by a vote of the organization’s members, while constitutional changes require a more formal process, such as a two-thirds majority vote.

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, a country’s constitution serves to satisfy its citizens’ goals and aspirations. 

Bylaws vs Constitution

Bylaws refer to a set of rules that serve as the basis of an organisation or a community. They have a limited area of application. In addition, bylaws are present as written rules that are 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

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 are 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 the government or legislature specify the scale of control that bylaws may exercise.

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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 a set of written rules. The 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, the 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 the 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 them, and the minimum votes required for 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 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 community members. Additionally, the constitution specifies who has the power to make decisions and how an organisation will be formed.

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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 a component of the federal government.

Moreover, a country’s Constitution lays down the laws and rules of conduct. 

The Constitution is open to amendments to some laws and rules. However, a constitution also comprises some laws that are rigid and permanent. A constitution serves as a founding component for a large community like a country.

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. 
Difference Between Bylaws and Constitution
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 

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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8 thoughts on “Bylaws vs Constitution: Difference and Comparison”

  1. It’s fascinating to learn that India has the longest constitution in the world, while Mexico has the shortest. The comparison between the two based on their nature, level of authority, and written/unwritten format provides a comprehensive understanding of their differences.

    Reply
  2. The crucial role of bylaws in ensuring the smooth daily functioning of an organization is well-stated. It’s important that the bylaws are specific in order to prevent flexible or varied interpretation, as well as disturbances due to misuse of rules within the company.

    Reply
  3. The explanation of what constitutes a constitution and its role in ensuring coordination and setting limits on authority within an organization or country is enlightening. It emphasizes the importance of a constitution as a rulebook for harmonious coexistence.

    Reply
  4. The comparison table provided highlights the contrast between bylaws and constitution based on level of authority, nature, and government. This is a very useful reference for anyone looking to understand the distinction between the two.

    Reply
  5. The section highlighting the main differences between bylaws and constitution provides a clear summary. It effectively distinguishes the functions and characteristics of each, making it easier to comprehend their respective roles within an organization or community.

    Reply
  6. A proper understanding of the differences between bylaws and constitution is essential to smoothly run any organization or community. Bylaws are specific and deal with day-to-day operations, while a constitution is more general and signifies the broader goals and objectives of the organization.

    Reply
  7. The examples of organizations that may set up bylaws are quite informative. It’s interesting to note that different organizations or companies may have varying bylaws depending on factors like their member composition, duties of the board of directors, and election procedures.

    Reply
  8. The detailed description of the main differences between bylaws and constitution is very informative. It helps to clarify their unique functions and the distinct nature of each document.

    Reply

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