Every society is governed by a specific body of rules and regulations. Without this body, the community will fall into a state of chaos and disorder. When this system of rules and regulations is recognised by the community members and administered through penalties, it is called the ‘law of the land’.
Establishing public order and just society is the primary objective of any law. It is meant to determine the individuals’ behaviour so that no individual falls victim to the arbitrary actions of the other individual or the state.
Laws make themselves relevant in the lives of people through their enforcement. They are supposed to serve for the welfare of the individuals. Also, they try to bring them within the order through penalties in case of deviation. These penalties are imposed by some controlling authority. Such authorities include a regent, a group of elders, a judiciary or a court.
Nature and Scope of Law
Law as a profession and discipline is concerned with an analytical study of the practices, customs and rules of conduct that particular society or community identifies as binding on itself. The research and practice of law include the following significant areas as its subject matter.
- Administrative Law
- Anti-trust Law
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Family Law
- Environmental Law
- Immigration Law
- Health Law
- Intellectual property Law
- Labour Law
- Maritime Law
- International Law
- Procedural Law
- Public Interest Law
- Property Law
- Tax Law
- Trusts and Estates
When the scholars and practitioners of law study the areas mentioned above on a comparative basis, that is, by finding out the similarities, differences and interrelationships among them in different countries, it is known as Comparative Law.
Theories of Law
There are several theories of law. However, the following two notions are the most significant among them.
Natural Theory of Law
It is the oldest theory of law, and its origin can be traced back to Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. In modern legal philosophy, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant and Hume are the leading proponents of this law theory.
This theory of law’s main argument is that social relations are governed by two kinds of laws. One of them is human-made and differs from society to society. In contrast, the other one is not human-made and does not vary from place to place.
The former was termed by scholars as positive law. In contrast, the latter was tagged as Natural law. For Natural law theorists, natural laws are of paramount importance and often serve as the standard for human-made or positive laws.
Positive Theory of Law
Also known as analysts or imperative theory of law, positive law theory tries to differentiate between the ‘ought to be’ and ‘is’ of laws. Some of the prominent scholars of this theory of law include Austin, Bentham and H.L.A Hart.
It believes that laws are basically ‘the command of sovereignty.’ The sovereignty, in turn, is an element of the state. This ‘command’ is given to the subjects who may also be subject to ‘sanctions’ by the sovereign if any deviation from the command is found.
As it is the state from which laws come into existence, there is no need to base laws on morality, ethics, reason or justice.
Advantages of Law
Some of the significant advantages of law include:
- It helps in establishing public order.
- It protects individuals from the arbitrary actions of other individuals and the state.
- It serves as a reliable basis for administering justice.
Disadvantages of Law
Laws tend to have some inherent limitations. These include:
- They often tend to be rigid. Consequently, the changing needs of society are often ignored by them.
- Existing laws often act as obstacles on the path of bringing about progressive changes in society.
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