Difference Between Act and Law

By Shivank Goel|Updated : September 20th, 2022

There is a great Difference Between Act and Law even though people tend to use the terms interchangeably. They are both intrinsically different. The main difference between law and act is that laws govern the day-to-day affairs of society, and any layperson can understand them. On the other hand, acts are subject-specific and pertain to a specific issue.

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This is one of the most basic mistakes that people make while using the terms. As a democracy, citizens should know the basic difference between act and law. This has been explained in great detail below.

Difference Between Act and Law

Act

Law

The legislature creates an act to address a specific issue. It includes provisions that are pertinent to it.

Standards of law govern the actions of any community.

Acts are specific- it has a target population and a particular issue to address.

Laws are mostly generic.

Acts are made within the framework of the law.

Laws are already established.

A bill becomes an act when it is passed in the Parliament or equivalent. Here, the Parliament is formed and guided by some laws and rules of procedure.

Laws provide the framework for converting a bill into an act. For instance, constitutional law defines how to introduce a bill in the Parliament, the procedure of voting, quorum, minimum votes required to make it a law, and amendment procedures.

Sometimes, acts amend existing laws.

Laws put forth the procedure to amend them via addition, modification or repeal. For instance, Article 368 of the Constitution of India deals with the amendment.

An act, being subject-specific, requires the use of complex terminologies and jargon. It might not go well with a layperson.

Laws are easy to comprehend, and any layperson can understand them.

An act cannot be enforced until it is made a law. For instance, the Consumer Protection Act 2019 is not enforceable unless the eight draft rules come into force.

A law is regulatory in itself.

An act outlines its objectives, why people should follow it, how to implement it, and provides a framework to make relevant laws or rules out of it.

As Kelsen opines, the law is merely concerned with what to do and what not to do.

Acts are informative. They inform people about specific laws or rules.

Laws are both restrictive and protective. On the one hand, it restricts people from doing something, and on the other, it protects the rights and liberty of the people and maintains public order and social harmony.

Acts and Laws become complementary and supplementary, defining each other's existence; rather than opposing each other. In simple words, an act provides the guidelines to make a law or amend an existing law, and laws govern the procedure of act-making.

Definition of Law

Law is a set of rules designed to control and guide people's behaviour in accordance with societal norms.

  • Laws protect individual rights and maintain public order.
  • Laws are more generic, and they are not difficult to understand.

Definition of Act

The term act refers to a bill passed by the legislature.

  • A bill becomes an act when the Parliament or equivalent passes it through an established procedure.
  • An act is a piece of legislation that enacts new or amends existing laws.
  • Moreover, an act concentrates on a specific topic and might include several laws.

Example of Act and Law

The definition of a law is a collection of requirements that must be followed and abided with. The bigger picture is within the lone jurisdiction of the law. A law that is approved by the relevant legislature, such as a state's legislative assembly or India's parliament, is called an act. Acts are a subdivision of the law.

Law makes sure that people follow the accepted standards and guidelines. An Act may occasionally be used to create rules and legislation in particular industries. For example, the foundation and operation of firms and corporations in India are governed by the Indian Companies Act, 1956.

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FAQs on Difference Between Act and Law

  • A law that is created by the legislature, such as the State Legislative Assembly or the Parliament, is known as an Act. Unlike a bill, which is proposed legislation being considered by a legislature, it is a law that has been passed by Parliament. Thus, a draught of a bill is different from a government act that becomes law.

  • Article 13 (3) of the Constitution of India confers a broader scope to the idea of law. In addition to executive ordinances, by-laws, orders, notifications, rules, and regulations, it includes customs and usages.

  • Yes. Laws define the procedures to convert a bill into an act. Also, Article 13 (2) of the Constitution of India limits the State to ensure that all acts, laws, rules, and regulations do not contradict fundamental rights.

  • Natural law philosophy holds that everyone has inherent rights bestowed upon them by God, nature, or reason rather than acts.

  • An act can amend the laws as far as it does not contradict the core purpose of the law. For instance, in India, this principle is called the basic structure doctrine. No act of the Parliament can hamper some features fundamental to the Constitution of India.

  • A bill proposed by Parliament becomes an act when it is approved by the President, the Lok Sabha, and the Rajya Sabha. Laws are controlled and regulated by government authorities.

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