The Functions of Law*
The concept of the functions of law is of major importance. It is needed to explain the nature of law, to explain disciplines associated with law, to correctly interpret and apply law, to pinpoint the interaction of law with social norms and institutions, to determine which general principles to which the law should conform or deviate, and to explain the law within the context of normative philosophy. This chapter aims to contribute to the elaboration of the comprehensive reasoned scheme of the functions of the law. In it, the questions of the social functions of law are distinguished from the question of classifying legal norms into distinct normative types. The four primary functions of law – preventing undesirable behaviour and securing desirable behaviour which is performed in criminal law and torts; providing facilities for private arrangements between individuals, which is found in private law, criminal, and tort law; provisions of services and the redistribution of goods found in legal systems; and settling unregulated disputes found in courts and tribunals – are discussed in the chapter. It also tackles the secondary and indirect functions of the law. The secondary functions of the law include the determination of procedures for changing the law and the regulation of the operation of law-applying organs. The chapter concludes with the discussion of H.L.A. Hart's classification of law.
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