Difference Between Laws and Rules

Laws vs Rules

Human beings live in civilized societies that are based upon the concept of rule of law. This means that everyone in the society is equal under the eyes of the law and same rules and consequences apply on an individual irrespective of his social class and position. This is done deliberately to ensure peace and order in a society. There are both laws as well as rules that are meant to be followed by the people so as to ensure smooth functioning of day to day affairs and anyone breaking these rules and laws are dealt accordingly. However, rules and laws are not synonyms, and there are differences that will be enumerated in this article.


Laws are guidelines for individuals and bodies of people so that they behave in a manner that is not detrimental to the rudimentary fabric of the society they are living and interacting. Laws are rules that are written and codified and also carry the provisions of how individuals will be dealt with if there is any violation of these laws. Laws are made by the government of the day but, in general, introducing, passing and amendment of laws is the responsibility of the legislature that is comprised of elected representatives of the people of a country. There is also the judiciary to look after violations of these laws that are made in the first place, to ensure peace and order in the society.


Every organization makes certain rules so as to ensure smooth functioning and peace and harmony among its employees. The same is seen at every level of the society where there are rules that are not written and codified, but everyone is aware of their presence and observes these rules so as to avoid censure and disapproval from the society. Inside a classroom, students talking or laughing while the teacher is explaining something is considered improper conduct that happens because students have broken the rule of maintaining silence. In much the same manner, there are rules governing the behaviors of individuals in a society that have evolved out of thousands of years of living and interacting with each other.

If there is a rule that one should not smoke inside the premises of a chemicals factory, the rule is meant for the safety and security of all those working inside so as to avoid an accident. Similarly, there are rules of traffic on the road that ensure there is no chaos and the traffic moves in a smooth manner on road.

Laws vs Rules

• Both rules and laws help in maintaining peace and order in a society, but rules are unwritten whereas laws are written and codified.

• Laws give legal sanctity to rules and carry punishment upon their violation, which is not the case with rules.

• There are enforcement authorities in the form of police and judiciary for laws, whereas rules are followed and adhered to by the people themselves.

• Laws are made inside the legislature by the elected representatives whereas rules evolve out of traditions and customs in a society.

• Those violating rules are looked down upon by the society, but violation of laws entails punishment by the judiciary.