There is great diversity in the use of the term ‘law’. The same name is employed to denote altogether different things, e.g., Laws of Nature, Laws of God, Laws of Honour, and Laws of Morality, positive Law. A line was accordingly drawn between laws relating to external nature and those dealing with the actions of men.
Professor Holland Professor Holland observes that “a law in the proper sense of the term is a general rule of action, talkig cognizance only of external acts, enforced by a determinate authority, which authority is human, and among human authorities, is that which is paramount in a political society.
Hobbes defined laws “as the commands of him or them that have coercive power. Austin followed him a law is a rule of conduct imposed and enforced by the sovereign.” Salmond substituted the definition by observing that “Law is the body of principle recognised and applied by the State in the administration of Justice.” lt consists of the rules recognised and acted on by Courts of Justice.
According to Salmond, all law, however made, is Recognised and administered by the Courts and no rules are recognised and administered by the Courts which are not rules of law. lt is, therefore, to the Courts and not to the legislature that we must go in order to ascertain the true nature of the law. on the other hand, Blackstone maintained that a rule of law made on a pre-existing custom exists as positive law apart from the legislature or Judge and Maine pointed out that there is law in primitive societies.
Savigny recorded law as itself subject to evclution and as no arbitrary expression of will of the law-giver.
The above is not the definition of ‘a law’ but of the law. In fact the term ‘law’ is’ used in two senses, whicn May be characterised as the concrete and the abstract. In the concrete sense we speak of “a law” or “laws”. “A law” means a statute, ordinance, decree or an Act cf a Parliament. In this sense we say that Parliamenthas enacted or repealed a law. It is a source of law in the abstract sense. In the abstract sense we speak of “law” or “the law”, e.g., the law of England, the law of libel, criminal law, etc. Law here denotes the entire body of legal principles prevailing in a particular system.
This ambiguity is a peculiar feature of English speech. In Continental languages there are distinct words for the two meanings found in the Eng1ish term ‘law’. Law in the concrete is lex loci, and law in the abstract jus, droit; recht. Lex meaning a statute is a source of jus.
The following are a few other concepts of law as given by enunent writers, which will enable us to Have a clear perspective of the different hotions of law.
- Every law is a gift of God and decision of sages Demostheries.
- Law is not right alone or might alone, but a perfect combination between the two.”salmond”.
- A law is a command which obliges a person or persons to a course of conduct.”Austin”.