For example,

  • The Data Protection Act is a piece of legislation aimed at protecting the privacy of the individual.
  • A new law was passed to make divorce easier and simpler"
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3 Answers 3


'Piece of legislation' encompasses both passed and proposed laws. 'Law' would generally mean only laws already enacted. I'm not sure what authority I could cite here, sorry.


Law is a very general term in senses such as the “criminal law”, “law and order”, “the law of the land” or “maritime law”, etc. Originally you can imagine that kings or other rulers gave orders which had to be obeyed. In England, judges, representing the monarch, toured the country and their decisions became the “common law”.

Eventually Parliament got in on the Act and passed laws which became known as “statutes” or “acts (of parliament)”. That’s now called “statute law” or “legislation” and contrasts with the decisions of judges.

There are today, for example, a few crimes on the books which were never passed by Parliament. Such ancient crimes could include “begging” or “incitement to beg”, “high treason” etc but these are now almost always obsolete having been replaced by legislation,

One “law” that judges normally keep for themselves is “contempt of court”. Hardly surprising really!


In a Common Law jurisdiction (such as England and Wales, most US states, and most Commonwealth countries), statutes (the results of legislation) are only one kind of law.

Precedents are also laws, but are established by the judiciary, not by legislation.

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