What is Positive Law?

What Does Positive Law Mean

Positive law is called, fundamentally, the written corpus of laws , that is, the set of legal norms established by a legislative body and compiled in a National Constitution or code of norms (not only laws, but all kinds of legal norms) .



Positive law, unlike natural law (inherent to the human being ) or customary law (established by custom), thus obeys a social and legal pact established by the communities themselves for their regulation and exercise of peace , since the laws they are written and sovereignly approved.

These types of laws regulate citizen behavior , the actions of State bodies and private freedoms , that is, they create the framework for coexistence , justice and problem solving necessary for life in society . These laws remain in force until they are repealed by a new legal framework or discarded by popular and sovereign decision.

Hence, it is possible to speak of two forms of positive law: the one of current application and the one not in force . The first acts in accordance with what has already been said, while the second constitutes the legal history of a nation or group. To it can be added the legal history of the culture to which the community belongs.

See also: Law

Characteristics of positive law

Positive law is constantly changing and updating.

In the first place, positive law is a system of coercive norms, that is, they can be used to force others to act in a certain way . The primary function of the State, seen in this way, is to ensure compliance with these norms, including through the monopoly of violence (repression, bodies of law, etc.).

On the other hand, any positive regulation must be written, published, and disseminated in the community it governs, that is, it must be public knowledge. A law cannot be obeyed if no one knows it, and for that there are physical supports on which legal regulations are printed and circulated: constitutions, codes of various kinds, regulations, etc.

And finally, positive law is not definitive: it is constantly changing, remodeling, updating and adapting to the legal and social reality of the communities they regulate. The history of positive law is also, in some way, that of the legal needs of citizens.

Branches of positive law

Criminal law punishes actions that put the framework of social coexistence at risk.

Positive law is classified mainly into two categories or branches: public law and private law . This division dates from the times of Ancient Rome and is based on the distinction between the affairs of the private life of the people , and the affairs of the public life of the State. Each slope has its own branches, which are detailed below:

Branches of public law:

  • Constitutional law . One who organizes public powers, the powers of the State and its relationship with citizens.
  • Administrative law . That concerning the administration of the assets and resources of the State.
  • Criminal law . That which regulates the way in which the State will repress and punish actions that endanger the framework of social coexistence contemplated in the Constitution and its various codes.
  • Public international law . The one that governs and regulates the relations between the different States that exist in a given geographical region (which can be the whole world).
  • Ecclesiastical law. The one that governs the relationship between religious institutions and the State.

Branches of private law:

  • Civil law . One that regulates private relationships between people, their rights, freedoms , assets and transmission of hereditary assets.
  • Commercial law . The one that governs the transactions and exchanges of goods and services.
  • Labor law . The one who governs labor relations, that is, employers and workers .
  • Rural law. One who regulates the affairs of the field and food production .
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