History of the Rule of Law

Law Contemporary society Rule

The question of the goal of the guideline of legislation and how the limitations should be drawn between moral judgement and the need to maintain a simple level of order within a world has been asked, over the hundreds of years, by many eminent theorists from the legal, politics and philosophical world. Several different opinions have surfaced with varying examples of agreement, with the concept that the guideline of laws is regulations and we should obey it, regardless of how unjust the rules can happen.

Although the precise interpretation of the rule of legislation has been interpreted in several ways by the various different theorists, the basic principle that the guideline of regulation means that no specific is above the law seems to hold in all interpretations. In Britain, the prime exemplory case of the guideline of legislation is the Magna Carter where King John decided to abide by the feudal laws and the inserting of restrictions on fees associated with feudal land.

What is the Rule of Rules?

Before considering whether or not the rule of regulation consists merely of the body of rules or whether there is certainly more to the way in which the guideline of law is applied, it is first essential to consider precisely what is meant by the 'rule of regulation'.

Dicey was not, in fact, accountable for the delivery of the rule of laws, but was instrumental in bringing it into the public industry for argument and consideration. He contended that the guideline of laws was made up of three key guidelines. Firstly, an individual gets the freedom to act at all he so desires without consequence provided it is not in breach of any laws. This gives supremacy to the guideline of law over some other arbitrary action of power that's not backed in legislations.

Secondly, that no person is above the law meaning that every subject, no matter stature, can be placed accountable to the law and punished in the courts of the land. Thirdly, that the rule of law is dependant on the collective rights of all individuals. Essentially, which means that the courts will enforce specific rights on the collective basis to all content within its jurisdiction.

This basic idea has been somewhat extended lately, most notably by Lord Bingham in his lecture given on 16 November 2006 to Cambridge University or college where he put forward eight sub-rules that should be seen as area of the overall rule of law. We were holding that firstly, the law should be accessible and understandable to all or any it governs, based on the idea that if someone is to be governed by way of a law they must be able to understand it fully.

Secondly, that whenever faced with your choice of responsibility or accountability, the law should be utilized without as far as is possible the use of discretion. Finally, that the law in the manner where it is applied should be equal and universal to all. He did, however, recognise that sometimes it would be necessary for a lot of people to be cured diversely. Fourthly, that any laws must provide an elementary level of cover for all fundamental human protection under the law, to every subject, no matter circumstances. Fifthly, where there's a civil dispute that can't be resolved, the get-togethers should have access to affordable and efficient means of coping with the dispute.

Sixthly, that members of federal government or officers of the federal government should react in good trust when carrying out their law enforcement duties and really should not act beyond their individual forces. Seventhly, that any adjudicative process should be good and transparent in the manner it arrives at decisions. Finally, their state has to consider its obligations to international rules when complying with any national rule of legislations.

In essence, the guidelines organized by L Bingham aren't substantially not the same as those laid out by Dicey; they are merely more detailed about the manner in which the laws should be applied. This offers greater guidance on the subject of what an individual should do when faced with a relatively unjust law. In addition, it gives greater perception into the manner in which the guideline of rules should be viewed, generally, and applied in relation to other political, spiritual and moral frameworks.

Application of the Rule of Law

Having understood the essential principles of what the rule of legislations consists of, it is then essential to progress to consider how this applies and also works, in practice, with regards to society all together. Again, this area has drawn attention from a few of the fantastic legal theorists of all time and has, in some instances, been hotly debated.

One of the fundamental ideas laid down by Dicey is the fact that the government does not have any greater expert in conditions of how it is viewed in the courts. The guideline of law obviously indicates that the federal government must have restraints and cannot simply react in virtually any arbitrary way that this pleases.

This has been borne out in several court cases like the early circumstance of Entick v Carrington where it was held that the warrant a Home Secretary had issued to type in a privately owned property was against the law and, therefore, the government was guilty of trespass.

Theorists from the very first stages have recognised that there is a dependence on some central rule to control all individuals. Not to have any central law would, almost certainly, result in anarchy. In its first format, the need for a rule of legislations was established by Plato and Aristotle where they recognized the need for at least a degree of rule or there would be complete anarchy within population.

Without any form of laws or rule the more robust plus more cunning would effectively make the almost all of their position by exploiting the weakened. It really is almost universally accepted that someone needs to take overall control of a means that maintains democracy and prevents the poor from being exploited. Because of this central control to work, the energy needs to be vested in some political and legislative power.

Aristotle, in particular, recognised the importance of the role of the central figure. He debated at span whether this central control ought to be the rule of legislations or guideline of men. His eventual bottom line was a rule of legislation was necessary and that the central physique needed to be in the form of some higher governmental authority. He figured a guideline of legislations was essential as laws and regulations are produced because of this of reason and thought and not based on clean passion. Furthermore, having one individual leader can evidently lead to tyranny or self-serving actions.

As the rules need to govern every adult specific, each individual must have a say in how these guidelines are set up. Finally, a rotation of these in charge of the guideline of legislations is desirable to ensure equality throughout. Therefore, Aristotle figured a rule of law, managed in a democratic manner, is essential to ensure that guidelines are consistent rather than arbitrary in the way they are both founded and looked after.

Encroachment on the Guideline of Law

Despite the universal reputation that the guideline of legislation is both appealing and needed for the effective procedure and governance of world, there were several encroachments on the original rule of legislations. There's a body of thought that implies the government has made several steps to encroach on the individual's liberties.

One of the most notable of the is the removal of the right to a trial by jury in certain limited circumstances. In doing so, it is argued that the equality and fairness of the machine is lost. Folks are not judged by their peers but are instead dictated to by an increased authority.

Another area that has encountered criticism is the way in which the secret service operates and, in particular, the Official Secrets Take action and related gagging purchases which may have been put on certain individuals. Clive Ponting, who was a civil servant during the Falklands Battle, was gagged and prevented from speaking about the actions of the federal government, during this time.

It is argued that encroachment on individual liberties, to the scope that it's essential to protect the greater good, shouldn't be regarded as a breaking of the entire substance of the rule of law. Although these governmental capabilities are seen as overpowering the individual's rights, it is also argued that these encroachments wouldn't normally in the standard course of day to day activities touch these encroachments.

Similarly, additionally it is argued that governmental bodies like the key services are overseen by 3rd party systems and, therefore, cannot act in a manner that is arbitrary or discriminatory.

Based upon this, it could be figured whilst the guideline of law is sometimes bent to support the needs of the public all together, it can't be carried out within an arbitrary way. Further, there are assessments and balances in location to make sure that no body exercises too much electricity over another.

The Role of Customs

One factor of the guideline of regulation which has to be considered when determining how the rules are established and how general traditions should be dealt with in the creation of such laws and regulations is that of customary practice. That is particularly difficult as customs vary depending on areas, religions and even interpersonal classes and are therefore very hard to regulate or legislate to take profile of. Nevertheless, it ought to be noted that customs do not create regulations, as such; they are simply employed by judges when making use of the law, which can sometimes cause an arbitrary application of customs with regards to the rule of rules.

In order to be recognized as a legislations, a custom must meet very strict tests including the simple fact that it must have been around since 'time immemorial', i. e. it must have been in lifestyle since at least 1189 (relative to a statute enacted in 1275).

The custom must also be sure in conditions of opportunity and application. The case of Wilson v Willes placed the customary right to remove all the turf as was necessary from the manor common land. It was held that custom had not been sufficiently certain to be considered a valid law, as it was not clear what restricts there have been on the quantity of turf.

Other requirements are the locality of the custom as customs are only ever applied on an area and not countrywide basis. They must have been consistently exercised and exercised as a right somewhat than an unusual whim. In a nutshell, the recognition of your custom as a legal guideline is merely applied in extreme circumstances and provided that it does not conflict with a preexisting law.

The Role of Morality

As proven as in early stages as Aristotle's works, the guideline of man or basic morality can't be relied after to provide the basis of legal composition for many individuals. Everyone has some other notion of what constitutes moral behavior; to permit every individual to follow their own moral code would result in chaos and disorder. Whilst everyone has their own moral specifications, most individuals recognise that there surely is a need for universal regulations, even if indeed they do not necessarily fall in line with their own moral judgments.

The difficulty comes when there is no apparent overall gain to regulations in question. For example, where the function does not harm another and there is seemingly no common goal then, under the rule of law, there should be no law stopping such actions. This has been the case with homosexuality which is now not regarded as illegal. There are other activities that are believed of as unlawful but not immoral, by some at least, such as driving a car over the speed limit, smoking pot or filing a false tax return.

It is clear that although legislation and morality are interlinked, they are not directly and inextricably regarded as one. Not surprisingly, individuals, overall will recognise that there is a need for a legal system and will contemplate it moral to check out these rules even if indeed they do not totally agree with them.

Are Unjust Laws, Laws by any means?

This differentiation between legislation and morality leads us to consider the ultimate question of whether the rule of regulation requires individuals to check out the law, even if it is manifestly unjust. Are individuals in truth obliged not to obey guidelines that they see as unjust as mentioned by Martin Luther Ruler when he composed from his prison cell in Birmingham, Alabama, stating 'one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws'?

Where a person is governed by the rule of law but makes a decision to break one of these laws as he views them as unjust, provided he allows the ensuing responsibility it can be said that he preserves his adherence to the rule of legislations. The guideline of law states that he should be handled quite and expediently and, therefore, spans a much higher remit than arranging down the regulations that must definitely be followed.

As explained by Dworkin, due to the fact the rule appears to be unjust does not give any individual the right to believe that this is a law at all. It does, however, give individuals the right to be dealt with fairly if they choose never to follow such a guideline.


The rule of law can be an essential part of any democratic modern culture. A central group of guidelines that everyone must follow is required to prevent arbitrary guideline and, eventually, total anarchy. Having said this, the guideline of law will not simply lay down a set of guidelines and apply them tyrannically. The guideline of regulation has a much wider opportunity and considers the way the laws should be employed and adapted to deal with societal changes and local traditions. It really is this overall construction of rules tainted with a amount of political and judicial discretion that makes the rule of law an ongoing success in dealing with the vagaries of individual nature.


Aristotle, Ethics E book V, in K. S. Chukkol, 'Enforcement of Judgements Against Community Officers and the Organizations and the Guideline of Regulation', in Ayua (ed. ), Legislation, Justice and the Nigerian Modern culture (NIALS, Lagos 1995) p. 61

David Brink, 'Legal Positivism and Natural Law Reconsidered' (1985) The Monist 68 364-387

Ronald Dworkin, Taking Privileges Seriously (paperback ed. , Harvard College or university Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1978)

John Finnis, Natural Legislations and Natural Rights (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1980)

Lon Fuller, The Morality of Legislations (modified ed. , Yale University Press, New Haven & London 1969)

Robert George (ed. ), Natural Regulation Theory: Modern-day Essays (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1992)

Matthew Kramer, 'On the Moral Position of the Guideline of Regulation' (2004) Cambridge Regulation Journal 63: 65

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