Role and Functions of Law

Subject: Law
Pages: 4
Words: 968
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


Law is a concept that has a long historical background. The human society has depended on law to govern its different faculties such as business and politics. The Roman Empire for example defines law as a set of commandments. These commandments required people to have an honorable life, inflict no harm on fellow citizens and give due to every citizen. These three elements resonate heavily with both the business and the society clearly signifying of the crucial role played by law to business and society (Halbert and Ingulli 2011). We can therefore conclude that law is a combination of rules. These rules have the mandate of directing the course of the behavior of humans. This paper seeks to establish the functions and the role of law in business and society (Hart 2012).

Definition of Law

Scholars have different definitions of law. However, all the definitions point to the fact that law refers to an embodied set of rules that give direction on actions or conducts of people. Furthermore, the laws are often under the custody of the authority controlling that given area or sphere. Other definitions of law simply describe it as that which failure of obedience to or following might lead to sanctions or other legal consequences (Vago and Nelson 2009).

Generally and from a broad perspective law governs every aspect of business, ensuring that businesses run smoothly. Furthermore, it keeps people indulging in business activities from hurting each other. It also helps in protecting the consumers from exploitation and harm (Hart 2012).

Functions of law in business and society

Law finds its function in a number of situations and issues. First, it helps in the maintenance of order and provision of protection (Vago and Nelson 2009). Law in its rudimentary nature is designed to provide grounds for the achievement of peace and stability. The presence of peace can therefore enable law to fulfill other functions such as the provision of protection of lives and liberty to people. In the realms of business, law gives people right to property and the protection thereof (Halbert and Ingulli 2011).

Law also provides the ground for the recognition of rights and duties. Substantive law for example provides for the punishment of crimes and criminal related coupled with ensuring compensation for damages. Law also minimizes the level of disputes and frictions between individuals and parties. This happens by courts and alternative conflict resolution mechanisms. This helps in increasing the levels of cohesion among people (Hart 2012).

Finally, we use law to set up structures of governance. This in turn is used to influence the behaviors of people in the society. Government structures also provide good ground for business ventures and conflict resolution in the society. Law also helps in maintaining significant social values and providing a method for social change (Vago and Nelson 2009).

These functions are effectively achieved through a system of rules that range from constitutional, administrative, contract, international, property, tort, criminal and trust all which clearly outlines the relevant guidelines that foster a smooth coexistence in business and society (Halbert and Ingulli 2011).

For instance, law prescribes the acceptable social conduct for any given society and punishes deviant behaviors that bring conflict and disorder. Law also helps in improving the stability of the society. This happens through its ability to influence the behavior of the society. The law also restricts business practices outside ethical and social norms of a society, while encouraging practices that further social goals (Halbert and Ingulli 2011).

The role of law

These are clearly outlined under the classification of law that depicts the role played by law to both business and society irrespective of whether the law originates from the constitution, a legislative body, or the judiciary (Hart 2012). The following categories best explain the role of law.

Public and Private law

Public law includes statutes enacted by congress and state legislatures and regulations issued by administrative agencies. It concerns the legal relationships between members of society, businesses and individuals and the government (Vago and Nelson 2009).

Private law on the other hand sets forth rules governing the legal relationship among members of society. It aids in resolving of disputes and provides a formula for the values and customs of society to influence is quite stable and changes slowly unlike public law that at times makes major changes in legal rules (Hart 2012).

Civil and criminal law

Criminal law concerns legal wrongs or crimes committed against the government. Criminal law works on the precepts that if it finds a person guilty of a criminal offense, the person may face charges of imprisonment or a predetermined fine. In other cases, the law may subject the person to both (Vago and Nelson 2009).

Civil law on the other hand deals with human rights in the society. It also deals with responsibilities of each individual in the society. Furthermore, it is only applicable as far as noncriminal matters are concerned. A person or business found liable for a civil wrong may be required to pay money damages to the injured party, to do or refrain from doing a specific act or both (Hart 2012).

Procedural or substantive law

Substantive law includes both common and statutory law and establishes legal rights and regulative behavior, with procedural law determining how to enforce substantive law through the courts (Halbert and Ingulli 2011).


There is an enormous role of law in the successful operation of business and society. No one would want to invest in a climate of disorder. The functionality of the society therefore depends on effective implementation of the law. The law protects the respect for observing the voluntarily agreed upon arrangements. Therefore, a clear understanding and enforcement of a legal environment is essential for management in all business, and beneficial for all people in society.


Hart, H. L. (2012). The concept of law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Halbert, T., & Ingulli, E. (2011). Law & ethics in the business environment. Mason: South-Western Pub.

Vago, S., & Nelson, A. (2009). Law and society (p. 331). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.