Regardless of who you are the Rule of Law is higher than your authority

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle in 350 BC, wrote “The rule of law is better than the rule of any individual."

Team Jane has written about Truth, Justice (both restorative and criminal), Fairness, Human Rights. When discussing law and morality or law and justice, it is important to define the different types of law. However it is not possible to make just one definition.  This is essentially a philosophical question, which probably has no answer, but it is possible to describe what it does and how it is used

The rule of law has been around since 3000 BC and therefor we can expect a lot has been going on for the last 5000 years

The contemporary legal systems of the world are generally based on one of four basic systems: civil law, common law, statutory law, religious law or combinations of these. However, the legal system of each country is shaped by its unique history and so incorporates individual variations.

  1. Legal systems
    1. Civil law
    2. Common law and equity
    3. Religious law
  2. Legal institutions
    1. Judiciary
    2. Legislature
    3. Executive
    4. Military and police
    5. Bureaucracy
    6. Legal profession
    7. Civil society
  3. Legal subjects
    1. International law
    2. Constitutional and administrative law
    3. Criminal law
    4. Contract law
    5. Tort law
    6. Property law
    7. Equity and trusts
    8. Further disciplines

Team Jane will leave readers to further investigate by research more about the legals systems. We will describe some simple examples as a guide.

Imagine what a family does to set up rules. These usually are to decide who does what;  such as times for children to go to bed, chores allocation etc. These are not written down because everyone in the family knows them. And unlike the above they do not lead to legal issues.

On the other side of a closed arrangement, a University may set up  some rules or protocols to cover procedures related to sexual behavior as part of their duty of care and so on. These rules or procedures are not a Law and usually only relevant to that University.

A crime that involves sexual assault will be found in part of a criminal law. If a person who commits a criminal act has broken a law and will be arrested by the authority (police) Such crimes do not need to be reported by a victim for the police to take action. If a third party  intervenes and either convinces the victim or other ways withholds information may also be charged as accessories after the fact. Therefore victims should deal direct with the police for criminal matters. Any action by a victim for failing to provide a safe environment is related but different.

If you rent a house the owner of the house has an agreement (property law) that sets out the terms of the rental and agreed between the owner and the tenant. This is called a contract and it is called a rental agreement. Everything about the owners rules,  such as rental period, amounts payable, when to pay, what happens if damage occurs and so on. This is then agreed and both parties sign the agreement as a true records. Each has a copy. The rule of law applies if you fail to meet the agreed terms. If the owner allows say a local person to collect the rent and answer questions but doesn't fix up say a broken pipe you don't sue the agent because you do not have a contract with the agent.

The world has many countries and each country will have different laws and rules. It becomes even more complex when within each country there may be different parts of that country that has there own rules (States, territories, provinces, etc). Then within  these Cities and some Towns have other laws. Therefore, it is very important to make sure you know the law whenever you are in another country. In some countries women are forbidden to walk on their own. A woman who is raped by an unknown married man will be charged with adultery.

If you ever get into trouble in a strange country,  contact your local embassy. (Make sure you have their contact details before you arrive) Sometimes your country may not have an embassy but in such cases they suggest you contact another country's embassy who has agreed to handle inquiries from your country. They will give you a lot of help.

The Rule of Law is a marvelous system but does it have problems?

Yes. Laws are written by representatives of people and passed by parliament. They have taken a lot of time and much thought to cover everything. They wait until the law is used to arrest someone and the value of the law is tested by the court system. Expert lawyers defending the accused use everything to protect their client. Sometimes the new law fails when an error is made in the wording so they take it back and draft an amendment. This continues until the law is perfect and criminals are brought to Justice.

Another problem occurs when a law become out of date. Societies views change and people accept new standards. For example once bathers had to enter the water fully covered. The woman who first dared wear a bikini was arrested at Bondi Beach in Australia. Horseless carriages (Motor vehicle) had to have a man carrying a red flag walking in front of the vehicle to warn pedestrians. These old laws are just quietly removed.

In Japan Victims and activists such as JANE have long campaigned for changes to the 1907 law, as most predators escaped  justice and according to government data for 2014, less than 5 percent of women who were forced to have sexual intercourse consulted police and only about one-third ever spoke to anyone, including friends.

This criminal law had not been changed for 110 years and many believe the recent changes are not enough