What is law? How many types are there?

What is law

Law is the set of rules, regulations, or standards used as fundamental guidelines for coexistence within society. Its purpose is to ensure that members conduct themselves without being subject to unfair treatment from others. The enforceable nature of the law establishes a requirement for all members of society to be aware of it. Claiming ignorance of the law is not considered a valid excuse, and everyone is obligated to adhere to the law diligently due to its binding force

Table of Contents


The nature of the law

Classification of Laws

The Hierarchy of Laws


The definition of Law according to the Royal Institute Dictionary of Thailand, Edition 1999, refers to rules that are established by the highest institutions or authorities in the state, or those that arise from accepted customs and traditions. These rules are used for governing the country, enforcing compliance, or establishing the order of relationships between individuals or between individuals and the state.

The nature of the law can be classified into 4 aspects

1. Laws must be normative

They serve as standards to measure and define the conduct of individuals within society, determining whether actions are right or wrong.

2. Laws must regulate human behavior

They govern actions such as movement or non-movement of the body under the control of the mind. Human behavior subject to legal control must involve physical movement and be executed under the control of the mind.

3. Laws must have enforceability

In case of violation, laws have the power to enforce compliance, both with negative consequences (penalties) and positive consequences (benefits).

4.Laws must have a definite process:

The enforcement of laws today is carried out by the state or its agents through various institutions, such as the police, prosecution, courts, and the executive branch. Therefore, the legal enforcement process must be well-defined and certain.

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Classification of Laws

The classification of laws generally falls into three main categories:

1. Classification According to Legal Systems

In the current legal system, there are two main legal systems

1.1 Civil law : This is law that establishes clear and specific criteria, recording legal principles in explicit sentences for each subject. Civil law comes in various forms, such as compilations of laws and royal decrees.

1.2 Common law : This type of law relies on explanations of events and outcomes in the judgments of courts that decided cases for the first time, using customary practices as the primary reasoning. This legal system does not record provisions explicitly but is documented in the form of court judgments.

2. Classification According to the Nature of Legal Use

The classification based on the nature of legal use can be divided into two main types

2.1 Substantive Law : This type of law establishes rights and duties of individuals in both criminal and civil contexts. It defines actions that the law considers offenses. Substantive law includes codes such as the Criminal Code and laws related to civil and commercial matters.

2.2 Procedural Law : Procedural law deals with the methods of practice and involves the application of substantive law. To implement substantive law, procedural law sets criteria and procedures. Examples include laws governing criminal and civil procedures, such as the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Civil Procedure.

3.Classification According to the Content of Laws:

Laws can be broadly classified into two main types based on their content

3.1 Public Law : This type of law establishes the status, powers, and duties of the state and its citizens or the relationships between states or between the state and its citizens. Examples include criminal law, administrative law, and international law.

3.2 Private Law : Private law defines the status of individuals or legal entities and regulates relationships between individuals or legal entities. Examples include laws related to civil matters and commerce.

The hierarchy of laws

This ensures that those with the authority to enact laws of lower significance must respect and cannot violate laws of higher significance. The hierarchy is divided into seven levels.


2.Act Complementing the Constitution


4.Royal Proclamation

5.Royal Decree

6.Ministerial Regulation

7.Local Ordinance

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