Kinds of Law by Sir John Salmond, Imperative, Physical, Natural Law

Sun, 08/14/2011 - 03:30 -- Umar Farooq

Sir John Salmond refers to eight kinds of law, Imperative Law, Physical (Scientific) Law, Natural (Moral) Law, Conventional Law, Customary Law, Practical (Technical) Law, International Law and Civil Law.

Imperative Law

"Imperative Law means a rule of action imposed upon mere by some authority which enforces obedience to it." In other words it is a command enforced by some superior power either physically or in any other form of compulsion.

Kinds of Imperative Law

There are two kinds of imperative law, Divine or Human.

  1. Divine laws are consists of the commands imposed by God upon men either by threats of punishments or by hope of his blessings.
  2. Human laws are the laws by analogy.

Here Sir John Salmond classifies human Laws into four sub classes.

  • Imperative Laws imposed and enforced by state (Civil Law).
  • Imperative Law imposed & enforced by members of society (Moral Law).
  • Those imposed & enforced by different institutions or autonomous bodies like universities, Airline Companies etc. they are called "autonomic law”.
  • Those imposed upon states by the society of states are called International Law.

Physical or Scientific Law

Physical Laws are expressions of the

  1. Uniformities of nature and general principles expressing the
  2. Regularity and
  3. Harmony observable in the activities and operations of universe

They are not the creation of men and cannot be changed by them. Human laws change from time to time and from country to country but physical laws are invariable forever. The uniform actions of human beings, such as law of psychology, also fall into this class. They express not what man ought to do, but what they do.

Practical or Technical Law

It consists of principles and rules for the attainment of certain ends, e.g. laws of health, laws of architecture. These rules guide us as to what we ought to do in order to attain certain ends, within this category the laws of music and laws of style.

Natural or Moral Law

"By natural or moral law is meant the principles of natural right and wrong (the principles of natural justice)". Natural laws have been called.

  • Divine law i.e. commands of God imposed upon men
  • Law of reason i.e. being established by that reason by which' the world is governed
  • Unwritten law (as being written not on brazen tablets or on pillars of stone but by the finger of nature in the hearts of people)
  • Universal or common law (being of universal validity)
  • Eternal law (being uncreated and invariable)
  • Moral law (being the expression of the principles of morality)

Conventional Law

It is the body of rules agreed upon- and followed by the concerned parties to regulate their mutual conduct. It is a form of special law and law for the parties which can be made valid or enforced through an agreement. A good example of conventional law is the laws of cricket or any other game, rules of a club. It has been further divided into two groups which are:

  1. Rules enforced by the parties themselves but not recognized by the state, e.g. the rules of hokey.
  2. Rules which are recognized and enforced by the state, e.g. contract etc.

Customary Law

Customary laws are those rules of custom that are habitually followed by the majority of persons subject to them in the belief of binding nature: According to Salmond, customary law means “any rule of action which is actually observed by men (any rule which is the expression of some actual uniformity of voluntary action).” When a custom is firmly established, it is enforced by the authority of the state. Custom is not law by itself but an important source of law. Only those customs acquired the force of law, which are recognized by the Courts.

International Law

According to Hughes, "International law is the body of principles and rules which civilized states consider as binding upon them in their mutual relations." It can be defined as "the name for the body of customary and conventional rules, which are considered legally binding by civilized states in their intercourse with each other." According to Salmond- it is consisted of those rules which the sovereign states have agreed to observe in their dealings with one another. International agreements are of two kinds. They are either expressed or implied. Express agreements are contained in treaties and conventions, while implied agreements are to be found in the custom or practice of the states. International law is of two kinds.

  • Public International Law: It prevails universally in all over the world.
  • Private International Law: It is enforced only between some of states.

Civil Law

It is the law of the states regarding the land. Civil law according to Salmond is "the law of the state or the law of the land, the law of lawyers and the law of courts." Civil law is the positive law .or the land, which means the law as it exists. It is backed by the force and might of the state for purposes of enforcement. Civil law differs from special law as the latter applies only in special circumstances. The other term used for the civil law is municipal law and national law.