Purpose and Function of Law

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The word “Law” refers to various types of rules and principles. Law is a tool that controls how people behave. In society, law represents concepts like fairness, ethics, logic, order and what’s considered right. From a legislative standpoint, law encompasses statutes, acts, rules, regulations, orders and ordinances. 

From a judicial perspective, law includes court rules, decisions, judgments, court orders and injunctions. So, law is a broad term covering acts, statutes, rules, regulations, orders, ordinances, justice, ethics, logic, court rules, decisions, judgments, court orders, injunctions, civil wrongs, legal philosophy and legal theories.

What is Law?

The term “law” holds three primary meanings. Firstly, it signifies the concept of a “legal order.” This refers to a structured system that governs relationships and directs proper conduct through the organised and authoritative influence of a political society. It establishes a framework for resolving conflicts and maintaining order by employing the regulated force of the governing body.

Secondly, “law” encompasses the entirety of legal precepts existing within a politically organised community. It encompasses a comprehensive collection of rules, regulations and principles that guide the behaviour of individuals and institutions, ensuring a functioning and orderly society. This body of legal principles forms the foundation upon which the society’s operations and interactions are built.

Thirdly, the term “law” extends to encompass all forms of official control operating within a politically structured society. This encompasses not only the theoretical constructs of law but also the practical application of justice. It involves the implementation of established legal principles to resolve disputes and uphold fairness in society. This aspect of law distinguishes between the theoretical guidance provided by legal frameworks and the active execution of justice by authorities.

In a narrower sense, “law” can refer specifically to civil law or the legal regulations governing a particular geographic region. This definition emphasises the tangible and operational aspects of the legal system that govern daily interactions, disputes and matters of societal importance.

Purpose of Law 

Law serves various purposes, with four primary standing out:

Maintaining Order

Law acts as a derivative of establishing societal norms. Similar to how a civilised society necessitates shared values, law provides a consistent framework. Enforced law ensures alignment with society’s guidelines. For example, wildlife management laws safeguard and preserve game for future generations.

Establishing Standards

Law sets a benchmark for acceptable conduct within society. It designates actions that are considered criminal, indicating society’s stance on behaviours that could harm individuals or their belongings. For instance, causing unjustifiable harm to another person is a crime, constituting assault.

Resolving Disputes

In societies encompassing diverse desires, needs and values, disputes are inevitable. Law offers a formal avenue for resolving these conflicts, often through the court system.

Protecting Liberties and Rights

Constitutions and statutes grant various rights and freedoms to individuals within their respective jurisdictions. One of the crucial functions of law is safeguarding these rights from unjust infringement by entities like governments or individuals. Should someone perceive their right to free speech violated by the government, legal recourse is available through court proceedings.

These key purposes of law collectively underscore law’s role in upholding societal order, defining acceptable conduct, settling disagreements and safeguarding individual liberties and rights.

Functions of Law in Jurisprudence

The functions of law in jurisprudence have been a subject of diverse perspectives among jurists. Law is recognised as a dynamic concept that evolves with time and location, adapting to societal changes. Its contemporary interpretation positions law not merely as an end but as a means to achieve an end – the attainment of social justice. The consensus among theorists is that law serves as a key instrument for ensuring justice.

One viewpoint, articulated by Holland on functions of law asserts that law serves the greater welfare of society, transcending its role as a mere safeguard for individual rights. 

Roscoe Pound identified four key functions of law: the preservation of law and order, the upholding of societal equilibrium, the facilitation of individual freedom and the satisfaction of fundamental human needs. He perceived law as a form of social engineering, constructed to optimise the welfare of both individuals and the state.

Realists propose that functions of law in jurisprudence advance the best interests of individuals and the state, acting as a regulatory force.

Salmond’s perspective on the essence of law is logical. The term “law” encompasses a wide array of rules and principles. It functions as a mechanism regulating human behaviour, signifying justice, ethics, reason, structure and authority within society’s framework. It also pertains to legislative components such as laws, acts, rules, regulations, orders and ordinances. 

From a judicial standpoint, it involves court decisions, decrees, judgments, court orders and injunctions. This expansive definition encapsulates acts, laws, rules, regulations, orders, ethics, justice, reasoning, fairness, court procedures, decrees, judgments, injunctions, legal wrongs, legal philosophy and theories.

Throughout human civilisation, regulations have been integral to societal functioning. Rules have been established to guide behaviour, enabling harmonious coexistence. The functions of law in jurisprudence are not only to establish standards for conduct and safeguard freedoms but also to furnish a mechanism for resolving conflicts. It empowers parties to enforce commitments through legal proceedings.

Law extends to the business sphere, prescribing guidelines for employment, regulatory adherence and internal operations. Its presence curbs chaos enhances compliance and safeguards harmony within the business environment and broader society.


The purpose of law is to establish societal order by setting standards, guiding behaviour and resolving disputes. The law safeguards individual rights and freedoms, ensuring fairness and justice. It acts as a framework for maintaining harmony, regulating conduct and offering avenues for conflict resolution. Additionally, law adapts to societal changes, serving as a means to achieve social justice. The function of law extends beyond a mere set of rules, actively contributing to the well-being and stability of communities and individuals.

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