What is Law? And Features of Law


What is Law? And Features of Law

What is Law?

Latin's use of the word "law" suggests that it refers to a sovereign's command. Only a few of the definitions or descriptions that have been offered will be covered here:

Following is a definition of law:

(a) A set of guidelines that control how people interact and conduct themselves. This definition seems incredibly broad, taking into account the rules of every game, of clubs, and even of thief gangs.

(b) "A rule of action prescribed or dictated by some superior which some inferior is bound to obey" and is used uniformly to describe all types of actions, whether animate or inanimate, rational or irrational (Blackstone).

Note the following observations: Blackstone and Austin's definitions appear to be silent on omission or inaction.

(c) A command issued, directly or indirectly, to members of some independent political society in which a sovereign individual or body's authority is supreme. Rules of a father to his son or rules of a husband to his wife that are not legal are included in the definition of law as a rule of action.

d) A collection of rules that the government upholds and uses to administer the law (Salmond). Does the State not follow moral principles that don't fit the legal definitions?

(e) Rules, which the Courts will abide by; Oliver Wendell Home. These rules foretell what the courts will actually do. They are not pretentious in any way. This is a typical "egg and the chick" scenario.

(f) Rules that the Courts, the body's judicial organs, establish to determine one's legal rights and obligations (John Chipman Gray).

Law, then, refers to the court's regulations.

(g) A collection of laws, generally accepted legal doctrines, and the overall body of governing bodies for judicial and administrative actions. This is more of a description than a definition.

(h) A general set of laws, customs, and community norms that express the preferences of the ruling class. The state's coercive power ensures that these norms are followed for the protection, comfort, and growth of social relations and the maintenance of the public order, all of which are advantageous to and desirable to the ruling class.

(i) A general set of moral standards created or authorized by the state, whose coercive power ensures that these standards are followed.

Law is a complicated word that has many different meanings, none of which are generally accepted. Definitional disagreements were most likely caused by historical, ideological, social, or cultural factors, or they could have simply been a conflict between words and meanings. It appears that linguistic issues may never be resolved.

Older words continue to take on new meanings as new words continue to be used.

You should be familiar with the idea of law in different countries and be able to define "law" in several ways. You should be able to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each definition and be able to justify your choice. This issue has been agitating many Nigerians since the general elections in 1979 (not earlier), and it still will for some time. However, it is now settled law.


Features of Law

What is Law? And Features of Law

Law differs from other phenomena in that:


(a) Body of Norms

A norm is literally a model or a standard that the society or other large group accepts (voluntarily or involuntarily) and uses as a yardstick for judging someone or something. It speaks of the actual or established standard that is based on the typical or prevalent behavior of a group.

The benchmark for right and wrong behavior is an illustration of a norm. In terms of legal theory, Hans Kelsen holds that laws are norms and that a society's legal system is made up of those norms, each of which derives its legitimacy from the other norms. In essence, the grundnorm (also known as the basic norm) serves as the ultimate standard by which all laws are evaluated for validity.


(b) Imperative

According to proponents of the Imperative Theory, the rules of the law are the general directives that a nation or other political community issues to its citizens and that are then upheld by courts using the threat of physical force. According to their argument, if there were laws that predated or existed independently of the nation, they might closely resemble the law or even serve as a substitute for it, but they are not laws.


(c) Sanction

The word "sanction" comes from the Latin word "sancio," which means "to ordain, confirm, or forbid under penalty.". It is a punishment or coercive action that is taken as a result of breaking a law, rule, or order. According to the law, breaking a statute is punishable by physical force. Ostracism or another punishment is the appropriate response to a moral wrong, whereas excommunication and/or hell may be the result of breaking a religious rule.

According to international law, sanctions against a renegade country can take the form of economic or military coercion by one or more nations to make it abide by the law. Just as following religious rites is a religious norm, being truthful is a moral standard.

The responsibility of courts is to uphold the law, not a moral or religious standard. But a validating factor is morality. Additionally, every Nigerian is a moral being with a sense of what is right and wrong, even though this sense may not always be shared by all. g. for psychosocial causes. John Austin claims that every legal principle is supported by a sanction, but it seems that legal principles come before sanctions.

Most often, a sanction is a legally permitted post-conviction restriction or financial loss imposed on a party and in favor of the injured party as a result of a court's ruling. Additionally, laws without penalties must be acknowledged.

Despite the fact that certain groups of people engaged in certain behaviors that would have been punished in a normal situation, they are exempt from punishment.


Final thought  

You have learned a few legal terms and their definitions in this course's introductory unit. In an effort to define what law actually is, several examples from Nigeria and other continents were brought to the forefront. You learned the characteristics that can help you recognize "law" when you encounter it because there is no single, widely accepted definition of what it is. After fully understanding the benefits and drawbacks of the definitions you have learned, you may feel challenged to try your own.

The most contentious and challenging aspect of the study of the subject is frequently the task of coming up with an adequate definition of law. You ought to be able to assess some of the definitions we have offered. Blackstone's definition predated Austin's, whose definition, for instance, refers to "a law" or "a rule of law" rather than the actual law. No matter how morally sound or not, a command that satisfies the definitional criteria is a law. Justice Holmes' use of the future tense and inclusion of "prophesies" in his definition added to the complexity of a subject that was already complicated.

Be aware that Gray also introduced the new factor:

i. The state's laws.

ii. The legislation of a men's club.

iii. The Naturalists reject any definition of legal rights and obligations that does not take moral principles into account or allows for unjust laws. Because of these factors, Professor Glanville Williams proposed that the only sensible approach to dealing with the definition of a word with multiple meanings like "law" is to acknowledge that the definition, even if it were intended to be of the ordinary meaning, would have to be multiple.

A definition of law might begin, "Law may be defined as..., or..., or...," or something similar.

According to him, no one would be offended by this strategy.

Additionally, the lack of specificity cancels out the benefit of comprehensiveness.

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