A law is a collection of generally binding legal standards embodied in a formal procedure by the authorized state body - has been adopted - the legislature.


The need for permanent and uniform system of relationships within a community through legislation is old - has changed in the course of time, only the person or legitimacy of the legislature. Very old laws are found for example in law books such as the Codex Hammurabi.


After the word origin the term "law" something set down, something established. A law is in the proper sense of the word a definition of rules. Therefore, one the legislative process is also described as law - as opposed to jurisdiction. According to Duden 's The Law " from a fixed state, legally binding regulation". " Set" of the verb is derived the term "Articles" from. The jurisprudential terminology differs between the law in the formal sense and the law in the material sense. This pair of terms is not to be confused with the terms' formal right "and" substantive law ".

Law in the material sense

Law in the material sense (also: substantive law ) is any general abstract scheme with an external effect ( rule of law ).

This is any measure of a carrier of official authority, which aims to bring in an indefinite number of individual cases, certain legal consequences that do not affect exclusively within that institution of public authority and develop so-called external effects in this sense.

Law in the material sense, therefore, for example, the 16th Ordinance on the Implementation of the Federal Pollution Control Act ( Federal Pollution Control Act ), municipal wastewater fees statutes or the administrative police regulation on the use of public roads. No law in the material sense, however, is an administrative rule, since limit their legal effects on the interior of the adopted carrier of official authority. Nor law in the material sense is the building permit because it entails legal consequences not for an indefinite number of individual cases, but only for a single specific life situation ( ie an individual construction projects ). The DIN standard is also no law. Neither is the German Institute for Standardization, a public authority nor is the DIN standard aimed at bringing out the legal consequences of any kind.

Formal enactment

Law in the formal sense (also: formal law, an Act of Parliament ) is any action that has come to a proceeding about, which is provided by the Constitution paths for the adoption of laws that have been enacted by the in the Constitution to specific organs and in the Constitutional law has certain shape. Formal enactment is therefore regularly only that measure, which was passed by Parliament in the legislative process and published in the Official Gazette. Examples: The Civil Code is, therefore, a formal law, but not the 16th Ordinance on the Implementation of the Federal Pollution Control Act.


The two concepts are not identical. The law in the formal sense may, but need not necessarily also be a law in the material sense. So likely, for example, the maglev need law, which only contained the finding that demand for a magnetic connection from Hamburg to Berlin consists hardly be regarded as substantive law because it did not relate to an indefinite number of individual cases, but a very individual life circumstances. Conversely, not every law in the material sense a law in the formal sense. The latter applies to ordinances and statutes on the part of public administration.


Ranking (hierarchy of norms )

Between different (material) laws rank in such a way that the respective subordinate law with the substantive provisions of the parent Act, on which it is based, must correspond to (so-called hierarchy ). In domestic law, the Constitution is at the forefront; in their standards, which are equipped with the so-called eternity warranty. Under the Constitution are the formal laws ( so-called ordinary laws ), here under the ordinances and statutes. Law, which does not meet the higher rules is usually void ( the exception in Switzerland regarding federal laws see the article constitutional jurisdiction under Switzerland ). In Germany, in post-constitutional laws in the formal sense, the annulment only be enacted by the Federal Constitutional Court or the competent Land Constitutional Court ( rejection of monopoly).


The legislative process in democracies differ only slightly. Most in the relevant parliaments or MPs houses is a proposed law introduced ( legislative initiative ), which is prepared by cross-party professional bodies and then put to the vote. For a law to be legally effective, a fixed process path must be maintained.

The legislation is the legislature reserved. You may authorize the executive branch, under legal standards - legal regulations and statutes - to adopt. Depending on the shape of democracy elements of direct democracy ( "people's law " ) are conceivable.

Number of laws

In the Federal Republic of Germany there were in 2003 a total of 2,197 federal laws with 45 511 paragraphs and 3,131 federal ordinances. On 31 December 2009 the German federal law included 1,924 laws and regulations with a total of 3,440 76 382 articles and paragraphs (details to Directory of A, without changing regulations and standards to international agreements ). In addition, the laws and regulations in the 16 states.