Making Too Many laws

In ancient times people started with custom, a way of doing things, which morphed into law. As people developed, so law developed. In some places custom became precedent, and frequently whole bodies of precedent were turned into codified laws. Rulers always have made laws, and still do. Even our democratically elected governments make laws by following lawful procedures and those laws they make bind us.

Humanity is a complicated beast. Often, if you present a human being with a rule the human will look to avoid it, or circumvent it or to use it in ways that were not intended. Such is the ingenuity of humanity. The response of lawmakers is to make more laws: judges change their precedents, governments enact more statutes and when all these new laws are found wanting because of human reaction to them, more laws are made, regulations are created and the latest fashion of lawmakers is to issue what are really laws but called “guidance” which some courts treat as laws and others treat as recommendations.

It is astonishing that more than three thousand five hundred new laws are created each year. In the 12 months ending May 2014 in England and Wales, new criminal offences were contained in 42 pieces of legislation; from which 280 new criminal offences were created.  Each year hundreds of new criminal offences are created, not because the English and the Welsh are becoming more criminally minded, quite the reverse, but because government deems it necessary to prohibit certain kinds of conduct, for the greater good.

In all this everyone is supposed to know the law and ignorance of the law is no defence to being charged with breaking the law, even though no one in England and Wales knows all of the law, and probably not even a collection of every law professor, judge, lawyer, lecturer and law teacher in the whole realm would collectively know all the law.

Most people think that their field of expertise is better than other fields of expertise to solve problems. Elected politicians usually only have one main expertise and that it to change the law and make new laws. Therefore they use their power because they think it will best solve problems. And so we have so many laws.

I fear that there are just too many laws and too many regulations. Some argue that we need a bonfire to dispose of unwanted bureaucratic requirements; we probably do, but there are quite a few laws that should be thrown on the same bonfire.

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