Generally LAW refers to rules, regulations, guidelines, orders, by-laws and so on which the state recognizes and enforces to its citizens so as to achieve justice in society.

According to;

Salmond; Law means a body of principles recognized and applied by the state in the administration of justice.

Holland; defines law as a general rule of external human action enforced by a sovereign political authority.

Woodraw Wilson; defines law as that portion of the established thought and habit of mankind which has gained distinct and formal recognition in the shape of uniform laws supported by the authority and power of the government.


From the above definitions, the following essential elements or characteristics of law may be established:

  • Set of body of rules: Law is composed of a set or body of rules. These rules may originate from customs of the people, Act of parliament, court cases or some other acceptable sources. They may be rules which prohibit certain behavior or which require people to compensate others whom they may have injured in some way.
  • Applicable to the Community; The set or body of rules apply to a specific community such as a sovereign state, business community or even an institution. Such rules may differ from community to community.
  • Guidance of human Conduct; The set or body of rules are intended to guide human conduct or behavior in society. Therefore rules which fail the test of guidance are either amended or removed altogether.
  • Change of Law; because the society is dynamic, law must also change according to the changing circumstances of the society. Therefore Law keeps changing from time to time.
  • Enforcement of Laws; Law must be enforced; otherwise its objectives may not be achieved. Enforcement is carried out by Law enforcement agencies such as police and courts of Law.

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