Difference Between Law vs Policy

Difference Between Law vs Policy

Many people do not know that there is a difference between law and policy. From writers to researchers, journalists to educationists, people from these professions are often use the words interchangeably. Aside from those professionals, everyday people use them as synonyms in their colloquial. There is no doubt that the two terms share many similarities.

However, that does not in any way suggest that they don’t have obvious dissimilarities. So, if you need to learn all of these contrasts, you are certainly reading the right guide because that will be explained in detail in a flash. With that said, we will set the ball rolling by defining the terms.

Definition of Law

The law is a set of principles, standards, and procedures that define how a people must conduct themselves in a given geographic location or society. In that society, those principles allow necessary institutions to take certain actions to ensure that people obey the principles. Whenever clarity is needed, the contending parties will approach a court for clear-cut interpretation.

Once interpreted, the verdict is binding on the parties. Indeed, private citizens, organizations, groups, and public figures must abide by them. In other words, in places that have functioning systems, everyone, regardless of who they are, must obey these principles. Where those people or organizations fail to comply, the institutions set up to implement it will prosecute the culprits.

For instance, the police is an institution of government that has statutory function of prosecuting criminals. So, if the police have enough evidence to establish that the accused committed a crime, it charges the culprits to court. Afterward, the judge determines the punishment the accused deserves. Once the judgment is carried out, justice is said to be done or served.

Definition of Policy

The policy is an outline of what a government or institution has planned to do and what it can achieve when the strategy is implemented to the letter. It is a course of action that serves as the guidelines of a government or institution. While it may not be documented, there are some exceptions. Where it is documented, the goals are outlined.

The primary reason for drafting it anywhere it exists is to serve as the guide that enables the organization to realize its goals. Sometimes, it is called protection or algorithm. When a policy is executed to the letter, the outcomes are usually positive, leading to the improvement, betterment, or growth of the organization or society. In some organizations, they have a mission statement, detailing what they seek to achieve over a definite time period.

So, the day-to-day activities will help them realize those long-term goals. When someone goes contrary to the outlines, disciplinary action may be taken against them. However, the defaulter will not appear before the court. So, let us examine the difference between policy and law.

Main Differences Between Law vs Policy

The table below gives more insights into the subject of policy vs law.

Basis of ComparisonLawPolicy
MeaningSets out the principles, concepts, and rules that must be complied withThis is an outline of what certain people are supposed to do in order to achieve a goal
PurposeDefines how a society can achieve justiceDefines how an organization can achieve desired results
When defaulted  It is interpreted in a court, allowing the judge to spell out punishments A committee or superior may discipline a defaulter.
EnforcementThe police or other regulators enforce themThis does not require any special unit to enforce it
 ScopeIt affects all and sundry living in a societyIt affects a section of a society or an organization
FormalityIt is formalIt may just be recorded, thus making it not so formal

Difference Between Law and Policy: Conclusion

In conclusion of law vs policy, one can say that the concepts share some similarities. To summarize the two concepts, the former covers the entire society while the latter focuses on a section of it.

Still, people who break the law are often punished to serve as a deterrent to others. But then, the same cannot be said of the policy. Finally, the policy focuses on achieving desired results whereas law is a regulation that everyone must obey.