Meaning of law
A law is a special type of rule that has been made by a person or institution that has the authority to make laws. This is referred to as ‘sovereign power’. In democratic countries, such as Australia, Britain and the United States, the sovereign power is Parliament. Society elects Members of Parliament to make laws on their behalf. Laws made by Parliament are known as statute laws. Australia has a type of legal system known as ‘common law’. This system allows for laws to also be made by judges when there is a lack of statute law. Parliament can also give the authority to make laws to other bodies; laws made by these bodies are known as ‘delegated legislation’. The most important feature of law is that it is universal. This means that the law applies constantly and consistently. In other words, the law is always in effect; Individuals do not have the authority to decide if they need to comply with the law, the law also applies to everyone. This is one of the most important aspects of the law. Regardless of a person’s position, wealth or power, they must comply with the law. No one is above the law – this is known as the rule of law. Laws are strictly enforced by society and those who breach laws often face sanctions, such as fines, community service orders or, in the most serious cases, imprisonment. Laws are enforced by the police and the courts, who are acting on behalf of society.
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