By definition, man-made laws are laws made by people, which usually stand in opposition to the concept of natural or divine law. Natural or divine law was part of the dominant legal paradigm in Ancient Greece and Europe during the Middle Ages. According to the apologists of natural law, the virtue of human nature allows for inheriting certain rights. The rights are universal and objective since they have a transcendent source interpreted by some schools of thought as God or other entities.
In the United Kingdom, Christianity is still prevalent, and according to this religion, the natural (divine) law prescribes the adherents to incarnate the image of Christ into their lives through their deeds. Man-made law used to rank lower in comparison to natural law; however, due to the secularisation of British society, it has become the supreme law. The importance of man-made law enactment is indisputable, and its abolition would result in chaos and tragedy. This paper will discuss how the dominance of the mighty and survival of the fittest would be the possible consequences of abolition.
Functions of Law
It is essential to outline the primary functions of law to comprehend its significance. Even though the functions of divine and man-made law overlap or are similar in some aspects, a line should be drawn between the goals of their enforcement. Divine or natural law defines what is moral whereas man-made law defines what is just (Hayes 2017). Justice and morality are not interchangeable concepts: for instance, a person who committed adultery may be judged harshly by society but is unlikely to face any legal repercussions according to the United Kingdom’s current legislation. Further, man-made law determines what minimally acceptable social behavior is whereas divine law encourages one to strive for perfection and maximum compliance with the rules.
All points taken into consideration, from here on, it is only reasonable to examine the functions of the man-made law. The first function is establishing standards be it something as trivial as running everyday errands or something as intricate as the execution of justice (Ehrenberg 2016). If a conflict is to occur, man-made law is to be applied for its resolution. Lastly, man-made law exists to protect citizens’ rights and liberties; it is especially true in relation to vulnerable social groups (Ehrenberg 2016).
All in all, laws are supposed to help to maintain order in society: they eliminate double standards, offer peaceful solutions for conflicts and ensure that each citizen can enjoy his or her rights. Thus, if man-made laws of the United Kingdom were abolished, safety, integrity, order, and standards would be compromised. It is speculated that in this case, British society would be characterized by a high degree of stratification based on power and privilege.
Abolition of Man-Made Law: Maintaining Standards
The abolition of man-made law in the United Kingdom would be followed by the abuse of existing standards, if not their total disappearance. A prime example of how abolishing law would make maintaining standards impossible is what would happen to the criminal justice system. The well-established system of Justice of the peace under the concept of Queen’s Peace would crumble, and magistrates, both District Judges, and volunteers would resign and abandon their communities.
In the absence of the current legislation, certain groups of people would attempt to run criminal processes in their interests. For instance, as of now, in the UK, if a person is arrested, he or she has the right to free legal advice, communicating their whereabouts, and medical help (Being arrested: your rights n.d.). One cannot be held in custody for more than 24 hours or more than 96 hours in the case of a severe crime (Being arrested: your rights n.d.).
If a crime is not serious, a perpetrator receives a warning, has to pay a fine, or does community service (The criminal justice process n.d.). However, the mighty of the country would use minor crimes as an excuse to destroy a person’s life if they held a grudge against the said person. They would not adhere to the principles of restorative which prioritize reformation over punishment.
Abolition of Man-Made Law: Resolving Disputes
Sometimes, citizens find themselves entangled in a conflict that can only be resolved legally. Thus, laws that deal with their specific issue provide sufficient guidance as to what decision would be just and well-balanced. For instance, people have many disputes over inheriting property, and it is understandable for having real estate in one’s name is of great value. The current UK legislation outlines clear mechanisms of inheritance if a will was left as well as if a deceased owner did not leave any.
If the latter is the case, a person who wishes to deal with the estate needs to apply for probate. Usually, the UK inheritance law prioritizes spouses, civil partners, and children (Wills, probate and inheritance n.d.). If a person was legally separated from the owner when he or she died, the said person is not automatically entitled to the property (Wills, probate and inheritance n.d.). Were the inheritance law repealed, the disputes over property would be resolved in the interests of those who have more power and leverage. Since the owner obviously cannot meddle, people who would not otherwise be legally entitled would try to pressure the immediate relatives into giving up the property.
Abolition of Man-Made Law: Protecting Rights and Liberties
The equality of all human beings is a controversial concept: it is abundantly easy to see how people have different abilities, skills, backgrounds, and levels of wealth. However, what is supposed to be provided by law is the equity of opportunity, for instance, the right to education. In every society, one can find specific demographic cohorts that are at risk of having limited access to society’s common goods. In the United Kingdom, the current legislation seeks to protect the rights and liberties of vulnerable social groups. The 2010 Equality Act ensures equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities (Disability rights n.d.).
The Act prescribes employers to fairly assess such a person’s skills and make reasonable adjustments to accommodate him or her in the workplace (Disability rights n.d.). Moreover, a person with a disability cannot be chosen for redundancy only on the grounds of their health issues (Disability rights n.d.). If the Equality Act were repealed, the survival of the fittest would reign in the country, which would not allow disadvantaged people to join the workforce.
It is true that throughout the last several decades, the processes of globalization and migration trends have changed the demographics of the country. Namely, the United Kingdom has grown more ethnically, racially, and religiously more diverse. The UK government has made many attempts to protect minorities from attacks and general hostility. For instance, the 1965-1976 Race Relations Acts aimed at the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of skin color and better integration of immigrant communities (Discrimination and race relations policy n.d.).
Despite the government’s best attempts to tackle the issue from a legal standpoint, it has been reported that the number of hate crimes has doubled in the last five years (Weaver 2018). It is safe to assume that in the UK, there are still violent, politically engaged groups that would run hammock and commit even more crimes were man-made laws to be abolished. At that, they would try to assert dominance and make the lives of minorities unbearable.
Even though previously divine law was predominant in Western countries, nowadays, it is entirely replaced by man-made laws that prioritize justice over morality. Man-made laws fulfill a particular set of functions, and namely, they set standards for minimally acceptable behavior, societal and legal processes. Moreover, such laws are to be used in the case of otherwise unresolvable disputes; they also outline, ensure and protect rights and liberties.
The current legislation in the United Kingdom capitalizes on the inherent value of every human being, which would be undermined by the abolition of man-made laws. Some of the mighty would abuse their power to overthrown criminal justice processes and destroy the lives and reputations of innocent people. Citizens with enough power and leverage could claim ownership over any property. Lastly, the safety of minorities and vulnerable social groups would be jeopardized, and they would not be able to enjoy education, healthcare, and employment opportunities.
Being arrested: your rights n.d. Web.
Criminal justice process n.d. Web.
Disability rights n.d. Web.
Discrimination and race relations policy n.d. Web.
Ehrenberg, KM 2016, Functions or the law, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Hayes, C 2017. What’s divine about divine law?: early perspectives. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Weaver, M 2018, ‘Hate crime surge linked to Brexit and 2017 terrorist attacks’, The Guardian. Web.
Wills, probate and inheritance n.d. Web.