What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules that govern human behavior and are enforced by governmental and social institutions. The precise definition of law is an ongoing debate. Some define it as a science, while others call it “the art of justice.” The objective of law is to prevent wrongful conduct, protect the rights of people, and prevent injustice.

Principles of the Rule of Law

The principles of the rule of law are central to any democratic society. They make sure that every citizen has equal access to justice regardless of their social class and station. Moreover, the rule of law ensures that government officials and citizens are accountable for their actions. It also provides for the separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

The basic elements of the rule of law are fairness, equality, and procedural justice. Those elements must be established and enforced by a public, independent, and impartial judiciary. Other elements of the rule of law include the separation of powers and the avoidance of arbitrariness in the law.

Formal aspects

The study of formal aspects of law is a distinct area of legal philosophy. It focuses on the formal characteristics of law in a given society and has important implications for society. One example is the United States Constitution, which was drafted to protect the rights of its citizens and limit the power of the government. Other examples include the customs and unwritten aspects of a legal system. The absence of these aspects may result in an unjust system of justice and illegitimate government.

Formal aspects of law encompass the rules that govern legal proceedings and ensure that justice is rendered fairly. In addition, they clarify the practical consequences of legislation. In a legal system, formal aspects must also accommodate the complexities of social relations and the need for interpretation. Moreover, the legal system of the Russian Federation does not have a tradition of judge-made laws, which means that attempts to avoid rough formalism can potentially damage the monopoly of the legislator.

Procedural aspects

A legal system’s procedural aspects have an impact on how cases are decided. They include the rights to information and counsel, the right to confront accusers, and the right to basic presumption of innocence. These procedural rights are also found in other areas of law, such as environmental law, which incorporates procedural rights in its Aarhus Convention.

Substantive values

In law, substantive values are the principles that guide the application of the law. These principles are not procedural rules; rather, they are important social values. A good jurist will never forget to apply these values in his or her analysis of statutory laws, case law, and concrete cases. The primary objective of a judge is to apply these principles in the best interest of society.

Substantive values are often accompanied by procedural values, which are independent of substantive content. The formal aspects of law have important implications, such as the United States Constitution, which is meant to protect citizens and limit government power. In contrast, informal aspects of law are customary and unwritten aspects of a legal system. When these aspects of law are absent, justice may not be impartial or effective.

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