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The Evolution of Law

Updated on January 8, 2016
Evolution of Law. Analyzing how the Law used in the world came to emerge.
Evolution of Law. Analyzing how the Law used in the world came to emerge. | Source


Law is an important and one of the most useful professions studied in the institutions of higher learning. Law has its evolution as it does not start for nothing. There was an ongoing way of people’s life in the olden days. This pattern of living as of then was not in order before the introduction of the new system called Law.

A solitary individual example a hermit, living in a completely isolated place can behave in any way he likes. He can decide to turn his sleeping bed upside-down; pour dirty water on the entire environment; carry dead animals from nowhere and dump them in his compound; hang his dirty clothes at the corners of his room and leave them there for more than ten years to soak and decay; and even go out cutting all the entire trees that are within the vicinity he is living without permission.

But when he is married or have people in a social environment, his attitude will automatically change. Irrespective of the nature of the relationship he has with the people that live around him be it only his wife and the children, he will not behave anyhow again. At that point, rules and regulations called Law will come into play. The truth is that he will not behave the way that pleases him alone because by so doing, he will be displeasing the other.

The Evolution of Law

Moreover, the instinct of self-preservation and egoism, would, unless restrained, invariably cause one person to assert his power over another to dominate him. How much more when a number of individuals, families or groups are living together in a society? When socialization got to this level, some of the habits of the people began to crystallize into customs and rules.

Initially, when people do anything that is against the rules of any land, people administer justice by self-help through forcible reprisals and family feuds. That was the method that was used them though not the best method of punishment. For instance, if today exists when Law was not yet properly developed and you intentionally came and fight any of your neighbours and injured them seriously, the punishment that is likely to apply for that offence is reprisal. Any of your costly properties may be taken away from you for such offence.

Again, in the old times, the surest way for the owner of stolen goods to get back his goods from the thief that committed the act is to overpower the thief and collects his goods back from him. If the owner did not apply force to get his goods back from the thief, there will be no remedy for the recovery in any way.

The rule of force held sway during this period of time. As at that time, the weak, the young, the aged, and the disabled who cannot apply force to claim their belongings from any oppressor of any kind are the people that were exploited and deprived their rights. As of then, a king which thinks he is superior over the other can use force and claim the land belonging to the other kingdom. This usually resulted to kingdom to kingdom fight in the olden time. It eventually became a necessity for the society to be organized in such a way that the competing interests in the society would be harmoniously balanced. The balance will make everybody to live in peace and any offender treated adequately without any use of force.

Law of force was being used initially. This kind of Law is no longer in practice today because of the evolution of Law.
Law of force was being used initially. This kind of Law is no longer in practice today because of the evolution of Law. | Source

At the initial stages of development, law consisted mainly of customary rules or practices and ethical values, which were administered by the monarch, and elders gathering at the village square to resolve disputes. At that time, if any does anything that is against the custom of the land, the elders gather and discuss on the nature of the punishment the offender will receive. If the offence was too severe, it may warrant sending the offender to the evil forest or burying the person alive.

Social order was thus maintained through a series of unorganized sanctions such as ostracism, ridicule, avoidance of favour, e.t.c. In certain instances, the punishment infected was disproportional to the injury inflicted. Imagine banishing a person for fifty years because he stole a spoon from a king’s palace.

Because of the disproportion in the punishment given to any offender of the custom, the order has undergone through many layers and proper developmental reform that made it to be the better one we have in our present society. Today, the reformed order is taken as Law. The law of the present time are no longer administered by the monarch or the elders. The Laws guiding various countries today including United States, Canada, Spain, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana and other parts of the world are being administered by the government through the judiciary, Police force, bureaucracy and so on.

The advantages of Law
The advantages of Law | Source


The word "evolution" has been used in many places including by movie industries, yet, the evolution discussed here is as related to Law. Law is a very important course in every society. This topic is a short note on the evolution of Law. It started from the use of force to the custom and today we have the reformed order called the Law. Before, Laws are being administered by the monarch and the elders in the villages but today, the Law is being administered by the government. In a nutshell, this topic discussed how law came to be, the stages passed and what lead to the standard law of today.


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