The Nature of Law
However, it is possible to talk about the ‘nature of law’ in terms of law’s essential properties and also the role law plays in modern Western societies. The institution of law may have, in modern Western societies, a much more expansive role than law’s relation to societies in the past. Law in the past may have been mainly limited to the maintenance of law and order and the regulation of a few central aspects of social life such as marriage, contracts, wills etc. However, modern law in Western societies pervades deeply into social life in a way that would have astounded our ancestors. Symbolic of that penetration of law into the social space is the ban on smoking in public places which came into effect in 2007 as a result of the Health Act 2006. Law regulates the social life of the community much more than in the past. This is a feature of the ‘nature of law’ which should not be overlooked. Questions in this chapter also examine the value of ‘the rule of law’, the issue as to whether the often made claim to authority by the law is actually a part of the nature or essence of law. The final question examines whether the Nazi regime (1933-1945) in Germany had a legal system or whether its organised brutality should not be dignified with the word ‘law’.