The hierarchy of laws is an important concept in law, as it dictates how
the different forms of law apply in practice. the most important element of law
is the Constitution or founding document. This is followed by statutes or
legislation, regulations and procedures. This can be seen as follows;












Figure 1: The Hierarchy of Law


The constitution institute the independent aspects of a country, defining the rights and responsibilities of its citizens.
The constitution also established the basic requirements for the proper
organization of a country. For example, the constitution defines the mode of
governance in the country. Any law which is enacted after the establishment of
the constitution must abide to the regulations previously defined in this
document, thus making it the top of the hierarchy. Also, the constitution
reflects a country’s international obligations. The constitution forms the top tier of the
hierarchy. This is
imperative as it protects
the jurisdiction and characteristics of a country, together with the rights and responsibilities of all its
citizens. The constitution also stops, or slows down any changes that are being
attempted with the aim of short term political gain by certain legislators,
thus protecting the order of governance of a country. 13

The second level of the hierarchy is occupied by statutes and
legislations. Statutes are established by a branch of the legislative government.
Statutes establish general propositions which the judicial will apply in
specific situations. Examples of statues include making a particular act
forbidden or making a declaration.14 As previously stated, any
statutes which are enacted must be in line with the constitution, and must also
abide to international law.

Regulations, which are one tier down from Statutes and Legislation are a
form of law, which are prescribed by the competent authority, and applies to
those under the authority’s control. As can be noted by the above figure, the
regulations must abide by both the country’s constitution as well as the
statutes and legislations. Regulations are enforced in the same way as
statutory law is, by the executive branch.15

The lowest tier of the cjonjonstitution consists of Procedures and Codes of
Conduct. Procedural or adjective law dictates how the state and individuals
enforce their rights. Procedural law includes information regarding
jurisdiction, appeal and execution of judgements, amongst other things.16 Unlike
the higher tiers, procedures are not enforced by sanctions from the executive
branch. Rather, enforcement is sought after by requesting compliance in return
for the completion of a process or receipt of a benefit. Procedures are set-up
by an administrative body. The aim of procedural law is to ensure candor in the
enforcement of laws, and to ensure that laws are being enforced consistently.

Like regulations, Codes of Conducts are written standards used to govern
specific groups of people. These may include political candidates, media and
election officials. If these codes are passed by a lawmaking body, they are
known as ‘hard’ laws. This means that they are enforced with sanctions as seen
in the previous tiers. However, ‘soft’ laws also exist in this category. These
cannot be enforced, and so, rely on voluntary compliance.13

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