What is Law? | Definition, Scope, Pros vs Cons

A specific body of rules and regulations governs every society. Without this body, the community will fall into 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 a just society is the primary objective of any law. It is meant to determine the individual’s 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 the welfare of the individuals. Also, they try to bring them within the order through penalties in case of deviation. Some controlling authority imposes these penalties. Such authorities include a regent, a group of elders, a judiciary or a court.

Key Takeaways

  1. The law refers to a set of rules and regulations that govern behavior, enforced by a society’s government.
  2. It is crucial in maintaining peace, justice, and social order.
  3. There are various types of law, including criminal, civil, international, and constitutional.
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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 a particular society or community identifies as binding on itself. The research and practice of law include the following significant areas as its subject matter.

  1. Administrative Law
  2. Anti-trust Law
  3. Constitutional Law
  4. Criminal Law
  5. Family Law
  6. Environmental Law
  7. Immigration Law
  8. Health Law
  9. Intellectual property Law
  10. Labour Law
  11. Maritime Law
  12. International Law
  13. Procedural Law
  14. Public Interest Law
  15. Property Law
  16. Tax Law
  17. Trusts and Estates
  18. Torts
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When scholars and law practitioners 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 law theory, 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 two kinds of laws govern social relations. One of them is human-made and differs from society to society. In contrast, the other 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 paramount and 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 differentiates between the ‘ought to be’ and ‘is’ of laws. Some prominent scholars of this law theory include Austin, Bentham and H.L.A Hart.

 It believes that laws are basically ‘the command of sovereignty.’ 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 exist, there is no need to base laws on morality, ethics, reason or justice.

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Advantages of Law

Some of the significant advantages of law include the following:

  1. It helps establish public order.
  2. It protects individuals from the arbitrary actions of other individuals and the state.
  3. It serves as a reliable basis for administering justice.

Disadvantages of Law

Laws tend to have some inherent limitations. These include:

  1. They tend to be rigid. Consequently, the changing needs of society are ignored by them.
  2. Existing laws act as obstacles to bringing about progressive changes in society.
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=3CNDBgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=what+is+law&ots=Fu7CGtAZrD&sig=DNbtaqzA4UJ8ec7RTcEA2AL32jw
  2. https://brill.com/view/title/13919

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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