Difference Between Rules and Laws

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 31, 2023


Difference Between Rules and Laws

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Rules, regulations, and Laws help in the proper conduct in society. Rules and Laws are policies for how people should behave. They have been based on ideas about what is right and wrong. Life without rules and regulations wouldn't have meaning and order. Rules and Laws are the foundation on which society gets built. They help us protect from the disobedience of moral conduct and violating the basic safety of other individuals.

Laws and Rules help protect the more fragile class of society because they are often at the receiving end when such regulations get violated. Laws and Rules are two things that determine the potency of any organization. The rules that have been set up run a long way in determining the type of establishment and what the culture of the organization would be per time. A company without rules would be in endless chaos, plus the level of efficiency would be low.

Rules vs Laws

Rules and Laws are different in terms of their consequences. They both need to be followed, but the outcome of non-obedience is different. Rules are directions for behaviour that ought to be obeyed to evade punishment. Law is a scheme of instructions and guidelines that dictate social behaviour and offer proper behaviour in a society. Laws are based on principles with broader aspects, while rules get formed on specific technicalities in their application to particular cases and people entangled in different situations. Laws have the force of the court of law. The court determines the punishment of the violators. The punishment for people involved in breaking a rule is decided by those who create rules. Rules are more flexible and have lighter consequences when broken. Laws are inflexible and bear stiff penalties, including detention and, in some cases, the death penalty.

The differences between Rules and laws have been described on the basis of different parameters and factors in detail. Let’s have a look at them.

Difference Between Rules and Laws in Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonRulesLaws
DefinitionRules are directions for behaviour that must be followed to evade punishment. Law is a system of rules and guidelines that dictate social behaviour and offer adequate conduct within a society.
EnforcementRules can be set by individuals, by organizations, or by the head of a family.Laws are imposed by a higher governmental office, usually the police and the prosecutor’s office.
Setting UpRules are set and adjusted as the need arises and should be followed out of respect for those creating the rules.Laws must be passed through due process in order to take effect. They are written in a specific code.
InterpretationRules don’t have a provision of individual judgement. People are required to follow the rules as directed.Laws have a provision for interpretation. Judges can, in specific cases, make a decision according to their ethics.
ResponsibilityRules generally concentrate on or relate to individual good. The firm moral intent guides decision-making.Laws monitor future conduct. They have an element of probability and uniformity which helps avoid misunderstanding or discrimination.
PurposeRules help us learn to prepare for living in society. Their purpose is for the betterment of society.Laws are not a teaching tool. They are a tool for keeping order in society.
PunishmentThe punishment for people involved in breaking a rule is decided by those who create rules.Laws have the force of the court of law. The court determines the punishment of the violators. 

What are the Rules?

A Rule can be defined as a direction or a regulation for performing a particular activity. Rules are information that says what a person is and isn’t allowed to do. You must have specific rules said or unsaid at home that everyone follows. A school has rules that the students obey to maintain discipline in the school. Things having formal rules, such as sports, usually have directions written down or recorded so they can be reviewed when needed. The rules' purpose is to maintain equal opportunities for all members, with the same limitations and restrictions.

Without rules, people could get hurt or be at some disadvantage. The rules are the foundation of the harmonious and obedient coexistence of all civilizations. Many historians and sociologists have claimed that without rules, society would have descended into chaos, and human being would still be uncivilised and wild individuals.

Types of Rules

  • Social Rules- These regulations are already present in society, not written or published anywhere. The people of the society usually know them clearly and are communicated or transferred through the behaviour of all. Respecting these rules can make a character of an individual at the level of consciousness and commitment. The outcomes of their non-obedience are usually very slight and tolerant and not legal; they do not pass the disapproval or rejection of the collective. Rules like having the right etiquette, proper education, and good manners are some examples of Social rules.
  • Job-level Rules- These rules include activities a set of people should perform for each job or work activity. Job-level rules are global rules utilised to apply procedures and rules to all careers.
  • Guiding Rules- Guiding rules are generally published or written somewhere and recommended to be followed to ensure respect and equality within the space where they had developed. The effects of their non-compliance may differ and continue to depend on the surroundings, severity, and stakeholders. They are useful in giving verbal warnings to expulsions of the group, event or place.

What are Laws?

Law is a concrete rule of conduct and human relations. The law specifies and handles general requirements of human activity in the state. A Law is defined as a common rule of external behaviour enforced by a sovereign political authority. - Holland

From society's point of view, the law means Reason, Justice, Morality, Righteous, and Order. From the legislative point of view, it means Statutes, Acts, Rules, Regulations, Orders, and Ordinances. Amalgamating all perspectives, Law is a wider term which contains Acts, Statutes, Rules, Regulations, Orders, Ordinances, Justice, Morality, Reason, Righteous, Rules of court, Decrees, Judgments, Orders of courts, Injunctions, Tort, Jurisprudence, Legal theory, etc.

The law, most importantly, provides an instrument to settle disputes stemming from those duties and rights and allows parties to enforce promises. The moral concerns in developing these laws involve whether or not that behaviour hurts another person, intrudes on their rights, damages something irreplaceable, etc.

Types of Laws

  • Imperative Law- It is a rule of activity imposed by some authority that enforces compliance with the law. In simple words, it is a command implemented by some superior authority either physically or in any other type of compulsion. Imperative law has sub-types:-
  • Civil Law - It is the imperative law imposed by the government.
  • Moral Law - It is assessed by the members of society.
  • Autonomic Law - This is the category of law enforced by different institutions or independent bodies. 
  • Physical Law- Physical laws express the uniformities of nature and General Principles expressing the Regularity and Harmony observable in the activities of the universe. They are not the invention of men and cannot be altered by them.
  • Technical Law- It consists of principles and regulations for the achieving of specific ends like laws of health, laws of architecture, etc. These rules guide us on what we must do to attain certain ends.
  • Natural or Moral Law- Natural laws mean observing doctrines of natural right and wrong. It is also known as Divine, Eternal, Oral, and the law of Reason.
  • Criminal law- Criminal law is vital for the supervision of order and peace within the country. Criminal law specifies offences and stipulates punishment for them. It is considered the branch of the public ordinance.
  • Socialist Law- Socialist law is the legal system in communist states such as the former Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. Academic opinion is different on whether it is a separate procedure from civil law.

History of Law

The history of Law can be linked as earlier as the development of civilisation. Going back to 3000 BC, the Ancient Egyptian Law was based on the notion of Ma'at and portrayed by tradition, rhetorical discourse, social equality and objectiveness. King Hammurabi developed Babylonian law around 1760 BC, by codifying and carving it in stone.

The Old Testament dates around 1280 BC, and it took the shape of moral imperatives as suggestions for a good society. Ancient Athens was the first society to be based on the broad inclusion of its citizenry, excluding women and enslaved people.

Roman law was majorly influenced by Greek philosophy. Professional Jurists conceived its detailed rules and made sure they were highly sophisticated. Ancient India and China illustrate distinguishable approaches to law and historically had autonomous schools of lawful theory and practice. During the Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent, sharia was developed by the Muslim sultanates and empires. In India, the Hindu and Islamic legal traditions were superseded by common law when India became part of the British Empire. Chinese Law gave way to modernisation towards the final years of the Qing Dynasty in the form of six private law codes based primarily on the Japanese model of German law.

Main Differences Between Rules and Laws (In Points)

  • Law is an arrangement of rules and guidelines that command social behaviour and offer acceptable behaviour within a society. Rules are directions for a demeanor that should be obeyed to evade punishment. 
  • Laws must be passed through due process to take effect. They have been documented in a specific code. Rules are set and adjusted as the necessity arises and must be abided out of respect for those creating the rules.
  • Rules can be set by the family head, individuals having authority, or related organizations. The laws are imposed by a higher governmental office, usually the police and the prosecutor’s office.
  • Rules concentrate on or relate to individual good. The firm moral intent guides decision-making. Laws keep a check on future conduct. They have an element of probability and equality which helps avoid confusion or discrimination.
  • The punishment for people involved in breaking a rule is decided by those who create rules. Laws have the force of the court of law. The court determines the punishment of the violators.  
  • Laws are not a teaching tool. They are a tool for keeping order in society. Rules help us learn to prepare for living in a community. Their purpose is for the betterment of society.
  • Laws are based on expansive principles, while rules have biased technicalities in their application to typical cases and people involved in different situations. 
  • Laws are not suggested to establish teaching principles but are there to be executed, and are punishable by imprisonment and even death if they get violated. On the contrary, Rules help us learn to train for sustaining in society. When we are young, we learn about the importance of following rules such as not hitting, stealing, lying, or wasting. As we grow older, we are expected to become responsible members of society and abide by these laws.


As responsible citizens of society, we ought to obey rules and regulations to maintain peace and security in a civilised society. Without laws and rules, the society and country as a whole would become a wild and brutal place to be in. For example- In the case of job security, it is worth noting that when you are obeying the rules of a company, it does not mean that your job will always get secure. But following these rules means that you would not lose your appointment out of carelessness.

People today find it cool to violate rules and laws created by the court and society. But, it is extremely necessary to remember that what we do in society makes or breaks a society. Our actions will decide what we and our future generations shall face in the coming times.

This article aims to describe in detail the concept and types of Rules and Laws and highlights the difference between Rules and Laws in particular.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law
  • https://docs.oracle.com/cd/E57340_01/RR/Types_of_Rules.html
  • https://www.lifepersona.com/the-4-main-rules-types-with-examples



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"Difference Between Rules and Laws." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sat. 13 Jul. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-rules-and-laws>.

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