Development of Law as a Reflection of Past and Present Society

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Law is the formal regime that orders human activities and relations through systematic application of the force of a governing body and the society it rules over.


Development of Law as a Reflection of Past and Present Society


  • Australian law has been heavily influenced by the legal traditions of Great Britain, which can be seen in court practices, the role of court personnel and the fundamental principles of our legal system. For example, the wearing of wigs and robes by Australian judges and barristers is directly related to British legal traditions
  • The image of the blindfolded woman carrying a set of scales and a sword came with the British when they arrived in Australia in 1788 and has been the symbol of Australian law ever since.


  • Laws adapt and change with the society, so the society can continue to function. When Australia was first settled, British colonial law was applied, yet as the nature of the population changed, so did the laws.
  • One example of the development of laws to reflect the growing social and economic values of the colonies was the development of the Torrens System of land title, established in South Australia in 1858.
  • With the establishment of a non-penal colony in South Australia, demand for land was strong and the unwieldy system used in Britain to transfer title to a property was not acceptable, so a more efficient system was developed.
  • The passing the Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 (Imp) enabled the colonies to make their own laws and alter any British laws made after 1865 that they felt were irrelevant.
  • Society‚Äôs perception and attitude to same-sex relationships has become increasingly liberal-minded and the present legal system reflects this.
  • If we accept the following, there can be little doubt that the law must reflect the present society:
    • The law is influenced by social and cultural factors
    • Both public and private morality will be found in criminal law.

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