Difference between Law & Legislation

Laws are essential in every culture and society, as they help maintain order and compliance with norms. Although there is a qualitative difference between societal norms and laws that are enforceable by the judiciary, laws serve the purpose of controlling deviant behavior. However, the term “legislation” often confuses many people when it comes to understanding the law. The laws of the land remain pieces of legislation before being passed in the parliament and eventually taking the shape of laws that everyone must follow. Despite this, there are subtle differences between the two concepts, with legislation preceding law.


Law is a field of study, similar to arts and science. It is a system of punishments meant for those who violate the written rules passed by governments in place. In effect, there is a system of governance where elected legislators debate and pass rules and regulations in the interest of society. Once approved and passed by the parliament or any other assembly that may be in place, these rules become laws that all citizens of the country must abide by.

The laws of a nation are often based more or less on societal norms and become a tool for the government to keep a check on deviant behaviors in society. Laws are written and codified and can be invoked in a court to obtain punishments for those who violate these rules. There are many sources of law. While many of the laws of the land are contained in the constitution, which serves as the basis for laws made later, there are laws that take shape due to changes in society and culture.


Legislation is a term used for a law before it has become the law of the land – that is, when it is in the process of becoming a law. Laws are rules and regulations proposed and debated in parliament by elected legislators. At this stage, a law is referred to as a piece of proposed legislation. In many countries, legislation is also called a bill until it has been debated and passed by the houses of parliament and received the President’s seal of approval.

Legislation can be passed, enacted, or promulgated depending on whether it is a product of parliament or made by the government of the day. When made by the house of parliament, legislation is moved, debated, and amended before it is finally passed. Only after legislation receives the President’s approval or sanction is it referred to as the law of the land.

Key Takeaways

  • Law is the rule or regulation meant to uphold the constitution and societal norms through a system of punishment by courts with coercive power.
  • Before being enacted or promulgated, law remains in the shape of a piece of legislation.
  • Legislation is the law in the making, though some pieces of legislation never become laws of the land.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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