What are the sources of law?
We explain what the sources of law are and why they are so important. Its influence on jurisprudence and its classification.
What are the sources of law?
It is known as sources of the right to past acts, events and traditions that serve to create, modify or extinguish legal norms , that is, laws . This often includes the very bodies from which these laws emanate, as well as the historical participants in the constitution of Law as a human discipline.
The sources of law exist because over time the notion of justice , law and order have varied greatly, influenced by discourses of another nature such as religion and morals , which were the most primitive codes of conduct of archaic humanity . There is abundant evidence of this in ancient texts such as the Bible or the Hammurabi Code .
However, in modern times international treaties, constitutions, laws and regulations are also included , even if they are out of force, since they constitute the history of written law . The same goes for natural or universal law, whose principles are associated with the very existence of the human being .
On the one hand, the sources of law are useful in jurisprudence , as they provide prior examples and considerable cases before making a decision (something particularly important in Anglo-Saxon law or Common law ). On the other hand, they are also used from a historical perspective when thinking more theoretically or scientifically about discipline.
Types of sources of law
The sources of law, according to traditional consideration, are classified as:
- Material sources or sources in the material sense . These are the agencies, authorities and institutions that are empowered in some human community to create laws that recognize or extinguish rights, legal norms or regulations in different fields. An example of this is the Supreme Court of Justice of a nation.
- Formal sources or sources in the formal sense . These are the documents, texts and books in which the law is formally included, or some of its segments, whether they are in force or have been repealed in favor of new ones. This also includes the process of its elaboration and promulgation. It can be about custom, doctrine, international treaties, etc. For example, the legislation carried out in the parliament of a country, according to the regulation itself that explains its functions and capabilities.
- Historical sources . These are documents inherited from the past that contain relevant information about legal matters or the laws of their time, even if they are ancient and extinct cultures. A perfect example of this is the aforementioned Code of Hammurabi , from ancient Mesopotamia .
Other classifications of law sources
Other possible criteria, of a theoretical nature, on the sources of law, distinguish between:
- Political sources . Those that aspire to collective organization or institutional processes, such as political party programs, for example.
- Cultural sources . Those obtained by observing the past and the theoretical study of legal news.
- Originating sources . Those that create the right from nothing ( ex nihilo , “out of nothing” in Latin), like those of revolutionary political processes.
- Derived sources . Those that are inspired by a previous legal framework.