Sources of Law

Where do the laws come from?

The “sources of law” literary means “where the law comes from”.

The sources of law can also mean:

  • The origin of rules/principles applicable in law
  • The source of force or validity of law
  • The materials from which rules are developed
  • The factors that influence the development of law

Some of the common sources of law are;

The Constitution: This is the body of rules written by which the society has resolved to govern itself.        It contains the agreed contents of the political system.

Legislation (Act of Parliament) (Statutes): These are laws passed by the legislature during their regular sittings

Delegated legislation: These are laws made by statutory bodies that has been mandated by the legislature to make laws on their behalf

Statutes of General Application: these are British Acts of Parliament which were applicable to the people of England and were later allowed in their colony countries

Common law: These are part of English law that is derived from custom and judicial precedent rather than statutes. They also represent the body of law adopted and modified by different states of the U.S and the federal government

Equity: These are legal remedies that originated from England associated with fairness

Case law or (judge–made law): These are laws made by judges during the ruling process as they decide the outcome of cases

Customary law: These are laws associated with the customs, behaviors, and the cultures of the indigenous people.

International Treaties: These are sources of law associated with the relationship between countries and cross border trade.

sources of law

Sources of law

From the above analysis, it is evident that laws can come from various sources. The sources can be written (such as the constitutional law) or unwritten (customary law). The sources of law can also be local or from international sources. The primary sources of law are the constitution, statutes, and case laws.



Beth Waltson-Dunham. Introduction to Law. Cengage Learning, 2012. Print