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The Purpose of Law Essay

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The subject of law is a very interesting and complicated one and many questions have arisen regarding it; The most common being what exactly the purpose is; What is the law there to do?

A lot of people have different opinions and views regarding the purpose of law, its philosophy and its relevancy. In order to better answer the topic question I must go back to the original history of law and how it first started and then I might be better able to answer it.

The formal system of law originated over 800 years ago as a way to settle disputes over feuding citizens and lords in addition to formally and bureaucratically trialling accused felons of their crimes and punish them effectively.

This ancient courts included the modern day equivalent of judges called ‘wandering justices’, the wandering justices in order to fulfil their physical and bureaucratic duties go to various places of dispute; resolve the dispute then they make a record of the cases and the decisions that arise from it on paper, this was the first method of case law and was by far the most common way of jurisprudence hence the title ‘common law’.

This is the first instance of law although there have been a similar system of punishment around different ancient cultures and religions, most notoriously being the ancient roman custom of stoning and crucifixion. This system of punishment was unfair, unjust and did not provide the defendants the opportunity to prove their case fairly and without pre-bias and prejudice.

Although the law has constantly changed and evolved in definition and principle over the ages from the ancient Romans to the modern day British jurisprudence system; the purpose of it has hardly changed; it is required to provide order and prevent a system of anarchy and lawlessness which we are aware could potentially cause the fall and declination of civilization.

The law as often been described people as ‘a system of justice that prosecutes and defend parties’, although this has some truth in it; It doesn’t necessarily represent the system of law as a whole. The law is not just about prosecuting and defending it also covers a wide range of our life, from forming contracts to the validity and requirements of setting up a marriage. The law goes hand to hand with the government in setting out the rules we are meant to follow or otherwise we face prosecution from the state (criminal law) or from our peers (civil law).

The law also to most critics has nothing to do with justice and is simply a bureaucratic method of punishment and detainment. We have seen a lot of stories in the news of families of murdered or severely brutalised people being irritated at the law for not delivering a harsh enough punishment to the perpetrators of the heinous crimes and stating ‘It’s simply not fair!’. Their minds are clouded with hate and grief, that they feel like the law is not doing enough for them; the families of the victims.

What they don’t understand is that the system of law is now becoming more and more utilitarian in sentencing, so the sentences are not just there simply for the typical ‘an eye for an eye’ retributional causes; The sentence is also for the development of the perpetrator and the government are trying to rehabilate them and prepare them for re-entrance to society, this is a humane and cost effective way to deal with criminals, instead of the traditional draconian methods of execution or imprisonment until death.

To the dismay of the victims’ family the law has evolved from its traditional harshness, to fairness for both the society and the perpetrator. So in the opinion of the victims family ‘Justice has not been served’, therefore finalising my claim of the law not having a lot to do with ‘justice’.

The law is there to maintain and implement order in society; To preserve people’s rights and enforce them acting upon their responsibilities and social duties of care, To punish felons and compensate individuals who have had their duty of care and human rights breached; To support the bureaucratic process of our daily lives which includes marriage and inheritance for the average individual to mergers and acquisition for corporate entities.

Sadly for all the things that the law is there to do; there is one vital thing that it forgets to do and that is to provide justice for the perished and the grieving, this inconsolable flaw of failing to provide the one thing of importance and relevance have made critics right in the assumption that the law is far too bureaucratic and lenient to be truly effective and suitable for its purpose; I agree with this and personally feel that the abolishment of capital punishment as been the greatest legal mistake of the 20th century and its consequence has seen the fall of true justice and the rise of youth crime culture.

Indeed after all the negative things said about the law, we all still require the law greatly and are in need of its protection and the deterrence it provides for the potential criminals and the incentive it provides for the noble citizens to be even more righteous in their acts. It defends peoples rights and obliges their responsibilities and the dignifying thing about law is that just as Atticus Finch said in the Harper Lee classic ‘To kill a mockingbird’, “there is only one human institution where all men are truly equal, and that is in the court of law”, sadly this fact of law applies to criminals and felons but thankfully it also applies to thousands of people who could have been potentially falsely imprisoned due to the immediate assumption that they were guilty or for the frank severity of their crimes.

This bilateral fairness which allows both parties to state their case without prejudice and for all accused people to be considered innocent until proving guilty beyond reasonable doubt is true testimony to the evolution and growth of our system of law and makes us the envy of less human rights cautious countries and makes Britain the nation it is today.

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