Difference between Law and Rule

Key Difference: Laws are actually rules and guidelines that are set up by the social institutions to govern behavior. These laws are made by government officials. Laws must be obeyed by all, including private citizens, groups and companies as well as public figures, organizations and institutions. Laws set out standards, procedures and principles that must be followed. Rules are guidelines that are provided to maintain smooth functioning of an organization and to maintain peace and harmony among its people. In terms of definition, rules are quite similar to laws. However, they differ from laws because they are not as rigid as a law.

In order to establish a society it must follow a set of rules and laws that help govern its smooth running. The laws and rules are established to ensure that everyone is treated as the same. The laws and rules ensure that each individual must follow a set of guidelines and if/she ends up breaking any of those rules they must accept the consequences no matter their social standing or position. The laws and rules used to maintain smooth and efficient functioning of the society. Imaging a society with no rules, where a person will be free to do as he/she wishes. It will unleash chaos and the society will fall. Laws and rules go hand-in-hand causing much confusion over their definitions. To many people, including in legal terms, laws and rules are the same and can be used simultaneously. However, these are different words and used in different contexts.

Laws are actually rules and guidelines that are set up by the social institutions to govern behavior. These laws are made by government officials that in some countries are elected by the public to represent their views. In simple terms, laws are basically things that a person can and cannot do. It is enforced by government officials such as police officers, agents and judges. Laws are ideas that must go through the process of checks, balances and votes in order for them to become a law. However, the enactment of a law varies based on the government. In an autocracy, the leader has the power to pass any law he wishes. In a democracy, the bill to enact a law must be voted on by the different parts of the government. Laws must be obeyed by all, including private citizens, groups and companies as well as public figures, organizations and institutions. Laws set out standards, procedures and principles that must be followed. A law is enforceable by the judicial system, i.e. those responsible for breaking them can be prosecuted in court. There are various types of laws framed like criminal laws, civil laws, and international laws. Breaking a law is a punishable crime and has drastic consequences such as hefty fines, jail time and community service time.

Dictionary.com defines ‘law’ as:

  • The principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision.
  • Any written or positive rule or collection of rules prescribed under the authority of the state or nation, as by the people in its constitution.
  • The controlling influence of such rules; the condition of society brought about by their observance.
  • A system or collection of such rules.

Rules are guidelines that are provided to maintain smooth functioning of an organization and to maintain peace and harmony among its people. In terms of definition, rules are quite similar to laws. However, they differ from laws because they are not as rigid as a law. Once a law is enacted it must be followed by all citizens but rules are often changed and altered depending on the place, organization and people. Rules are a less formal set of guidelines which has little or no consequences depending on the person that is enforcing them. Rules are also enforced by the person that is making the rule. For example, rules created in a household are enforced by the parent that created the rules. Similarly, rules established in a classroom are enforced by the teacher or the school administration. Rules enacted inside the household differ from the rules enacted inside the classroom. This is because rules are more detailed guidelines and must be changed depending on the situation. Many people often believe that rules that are established in the childhood helps a person to understand laws that are created by the government and also makes him follow the laws strictly. Rules also have smaller consequences and punishment such as no TV time, or no allowance, taking away of cellphones, etc.

Dictionary.com defines ‘rule’ as:

  • A principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement
  • The customary or normal circumstance, occurrence, manner, practice, quality, etc.
  • To control or direct; exercise dominating power, authority, or influence over; govern.
  • To decide or declare judicially or authoritatively
  • To make a formal decision or ruling, as on a point at law.

Laws and rules are different from each other in many ways. Laws are considered to be more rigid and are the same for everyone that is residing in that particular country. Rules are more lenient and prone to change. They are also only same and enforceable for a person belonging to that particular group or organization. Laws have stricter consequences, while rules have smaller consequences. Laws offer a broader guideline, while rules are more detailed guidelines.

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