Rule Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Rule, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Rule?

(v) Rule is the enforceable declaration of decision on a legal point by a court or legal authority which acts as the basis for the action of the parties involved and to the enforcing officers liable to establish such decisions.

History and Meaning of Rule

The term "rule" in legal language generally refers to an authoritative decision made by a court or legal authority on a legal issue that becomes the basis for the actions of the parties involved. A rule can take many forms, such as a court decision or an administrative regulation, but in all cases, it carries the force of law and must be obeyed by those affected by it.

The concept of rules has existed since the earliest days of human societies, when customs and traditions were the primary means of regulating behavior. As societies became more complex, formal systems of law arose, which provided a framework for resolving disputes and setting standards for behavior. Today, rules play a critical role in all areas of law, from criminal law to contract law to administrative law.

Examples of Rule

  • A court issues a rule declaring that a particular search conducted by the police was unconstitutional and therefore inadmissible as evidence in a criminal trial.
  • A federal agency issues a rule requiring all companies in a certain industry to meet certain safety standards in order to protect their workers from harm.
  • A state legislature passes a rule allowing certain types of nonviolent offenders to be released early from prison if they complete a rehabilitation program.
  • A judge in a family court issues a rule requiring a divorcing couple to attend mediation in order to try to resolve their differences before the case goes to trial.

Legal Terms Similar to Rule

  • Regulation: a type of rule issued by a governmental agency, typically as part of the agency's enforcement of a particular law or policy.
  • Precedent: a rule established by a court's prior decision in a similar case, which serves as a guide for future decisions on the same legal issue.
  • Statute: a written law passed by a legislative body, which carries the force of law and must be obeyed by those affected by it.