Law: Definition, Purpose, Function, Elements and Types

Definition of Law – In social life, there are regulations in the form of norms and sanctions that are made by mutual agreement. Laws are made with the aim of regulating and maintaining order, justice so that chaos can be controlled or prevented.

Every country has different legal regulations, including Indonesia. In accordance with article 1, paragraph 3, Indonesia is a constitutional state and every Indonesian citizen must obey the laws that apply in Indonesia.

Laws in each country are regulations that are customary, officially considered binding and formalized by the state or government authorities. There are lots of laws in Indonesia, laws, government regulations, presidential decrees, to regional regulations.

If there are Indonesian citizens who do not comply with these laws, they will be subject to sanctions, which can be in the form of imprisonment or paying fines. The following is a summary of the law, starting from its meaning, purpose, function, elements to its types.

Definition of Law  

One can also enter into legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that adopt alternative means of settling disputes to standard court litigation.

The creation of law itself can be affected by the constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded in it. Law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and functions as a mediator of human relations.

Legal systems vary from country to country. In civil law jurisdictions, the legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates laws. Historically, religious laws influenced secular matters, and are still used in some religious communities.

Sharia law based on Islamic principles is used as the primary legal system in several countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The following is the definition of law according to some experts:

1. Aristotle

Aristotle is a philosopher who comes from Greece. Aristotle divides law into two, certain law and universal law.

Certain laws are rules that define and prohibit certain actions. Universal laws are natural laws, they have their own rules and directives. 

2. Ernst Utrecht 

Ernst Utrecht is a legal expert originally from Indonesia. According to him, the definition of law is a set of guidelines for life, in the form of orders or prohibitions that aim to regulate order in society that must be obeyed by the community.

If the community violates the rules that have been set, then the government or society must take action.

3. Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant was a famous philosopher from the 18th century. According to Immanuel, humans will be moved to act under the law, and that is an authoritative standard that is emotionally binding.

Humans can act according to their own will but not contrary to the morals that apply in their environment. According to Immanuel, law is a requirement that as a whole has free will to be able to adjust and follow regulations. 

4. Mochtar Kusumaatmadja 

Mochtar Kusumaatmadja views law as a tool for all kinds of processes of change in society. In addition, according to him law is a tool to protect, maintain and discipline society.

Law according to Mochtar law is a rule and principle that is useful in regulating public relations made with justice.

5.Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes was a British philosopher who thought that law was a formal adhesive device, useful in uniting a society that was initially disorganized.

In his view, law is a rule that controls people’s lives either by force or by order and is made by those in power within that community.

6. Hans Kelsen

Hans Kelsen, an Austrian jurist and philosopher. He was a proponent that law is a pure legal theory. Hans argues that law is a norm that contains conditions and consequences for certain actions. The consequences of violating the law can be in the form of threats of sanctions from those in power within the community.

The absence of a clear legal definition is actually an obstacle for those who wish to study law. Indeed, for ordinary people the meaning of law itself is not very important.

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According to the community, what is more important is how the law is enforced and the legal protection given to them. There are many fields of law, ranging from criminal law, civil law, procedures, constitutional law, international law, customary law, to environmental law.

Legal Purposes 

  1. Legal rules have a goal to protect human interests from threatening dangers.
  2. Regulating relations between human beings in order to create order and is expected to prevent conflicts between humans.
  3. The law protects human interests both individually and in groups. Basically humans are creatures that also need protection of their interests so that their interests can be protected from threats around them.
  4. The law has a goal to realize the greatest happiness for everyone. Not only providing a living, but also providing abundant food, protection and achieving togetherness.
  5. Law is a means to maintain and guarantee order. 

Legal Function 

  1. As a means of social control. a system that enforces rules regarding correct behavior.
  2. As a means to make changes in society.
  3. As a means of order and regularity of society.
  4. As a means of realizing social justice.
  5. As a means of development movement.
  6. As a critical function, conducting supervision both on the supervisory apparatus, implementing apparatus and law enforcement apparatus.
  7. As a tool to bind members in society so that the group’s existence becomes tighter.
  8. As a tool to rid the community of cases that disturb the community by imposing criminal, civil, administrative and community sanctions.
  9. As a tool to carry out the allocation of authority and decisions to government agencies.
  10. As a means of social stimulation. Law is not a tool that is only used to control society, but also lays legal foundations that can stimulate and facilitate interaction between people in an orderly and fair manner.

Legal Elements 

  1. Law is a rule that regulates human behavior in an association in society.
  2. Regulations are made by regulatory bodies
  3. Regulations are coercive
  4. Sanctions for violations made are strict.

Legal Fields 

1. Criminal Law

Criminal law is a rule that determines what actions may not be violated and are included in criminal acts. Criminal law also regulates what sanctions can be imposed if you violate criminal law.

Criminal law is part of the law in force in a country. Criminal law does not establish its own norms, but already exists in other norms.

Criminal law is based on written and unwritten laws. Indonesia does not yet have a Criminal Code. Therefore, Indonesia still applies criminal law which is a legacy from the colonial government.

The systematics of the Criminal Code is Book I on general provisions, Book II on crimes, Book III on violations.

Punishments that can be imposed on violators of criminal law are:

a. death penalty

The death penalty does not apply in countries that have abolished the death penalty, such as the Netherlands. Indonesia itself still applies the death penalty although there are still many pros and cons regarding this punishment.

b. prison sentence

Prison sentences are divided into life imprisonment and temporary imprisonment. Minimum imprisonment of 1 year and a maximum of 20 years. the convict must stay in prison for the duration of his sentence and is obliged to do the work that has been determined.

c. fine penalty

The convict may choose whether to pay a fine or replace it with a prison sentence. The prison sentence is not as severe as a prison sentence. Imprisonment is imposed if the offense committed is not too serious. maximum imprisonment of 6 months.

d. cover penalty

Closing sentences were imposed for political reasons on people who had committed crimes. This closing sentence is an additional criminal punishment.

2. Civil Law 

Civil law is a regulation that regulates the rights and obligations of a person with a legal entity. The term civil law was first recognized in Dutch, even from legal sources

Dutch Civil Law is derived from French civil law. At that time it was considered a very perfect law. This private law applies in France and is contained in two codifications.

When France ruled the Netherlands, the two codification laws were also enforced in the Netherlands, and were even still in use 24 years after Dutch independence. After that, the Netherlands began to compile a code of laws for civil law.

The Civil Code is composed of chapters:

  1. concerning persons, this chapter prescribes laws concerning man himself and the family.
  2. regarding property, this chapter regulates all matters relating to the law of property and inheritance.
  3. Regarding engagement, this chapter regulates all rights and obligations between people, with legal entities and certain parties.
  4. Concerning evidence, this chapter regulates all means of evidence and their legal consequences.
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3. Constitutional Law 

State constitutional law is the law of certain relations, which appears in the course of history and is governed by law which is called the state. So, constitutional law relates to the state.

In international law, the state is a subject of international law. In private law, the state is a legal entity subject to law. A state that is independent in external relations, is governed by laws that legally govern relations with one another.

Constitutional law is the primary law that establishes government offices, confers power, and regulates relations with citizens. This is a characteristic of constitutional law which regulates relations involving the government. Especially the relationship between various government agencies. Relations with citizens tend to be in the field of administrative law, unless we talk about the allocation of tools of power to citizens.

Not all countries have a constitution. However, countries that do not have a constitution usually have a jus commune or what is known as the law of the motherland. The law of the homeland contains a number of imperative and consensus regulations. These regulations include customary law rules, conventions, magistrate law, and international norms.

4. International Law 

International law is the law that governs all activities on an international scale. International law was originally only interpreted as a rule in relations between countries.

However, in its development, international relations are increasingly complex. In addition, international law also regulates the structure and behavior of international organizations, multinational companies and individuals. International law can be formulated as a body of laws consisting of rules that bind states.

International law has several forms of manifestation and patterns of its development. There is regional international law, law that applies only to the area where it applies, such as American-Latin American international law.

In addition, it also regulates the concept of protecting marine biological wealth. Meanwhile, special international law is a rule that applies specifically to certain countries, such as the European convention on human rights.

International law is law based on the thoughts of the international community which consists of a number of countries that have sovereignty and independence. what is meant is a country that stands alone or is not under the rule of another country. International law has legal subjects which include states, international organizations and individuals.

5. Customary Law 

Customary law is unwritten law. This is because there is no legal regulation recorded. An example of customary law is a ministerial regulation, he no longer gets the trust of the majority of the DPR and must resign from his post.

Such rules are not written in the law, but it is a general rule. There is no legal obligation for this minister to resign, however, this requirement is commonplace in national politics.

The characteristic of customary law is that the rules are passed down orally from generation to generation, or hereditary. Customary law can cover a wide range of areas, for example, marital rights and obligations, inheritance, relations between communities, ownership, and so on. Some examples of customary laws that are enforced in several countries are neighbor rights and devolution.

Juridically, customary law is a law or rule that is the result of traditional customary practices from time to time. Thus, it becomes a source of law. This is recognized by the court and can complement the law, provided that customary law does not conflict with other laws. 

6. Environmental Law

Environmental law is the law that regulates the pattern of the environment and all its devices, apart from that environmental law also regulates the conditions with humans who are under the influence of the environment.

Environmental law is a scientific discipline covering aspects of environmental governance, environmental protection, environmental health, human health, spatial planning, regional autonomy, sectoral aspects, environmental internationalization and law enforcement.

Environmental law in Indonesia is regulated in Law No. 32 of 2009. Law No. 32 also regulates preserving the environment and preventing environmental damage.

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