Rule of law is a term that is often used but not often understood.
In the most simple terms, rule of law is a principle that it is law, rather than decisions of one person or a group of persons, the government, that should rule the nation.
This principle goes back as a far as the times when many believed that the monarch derived his devine right to rule through God.
Rule of law also means that every person is subject the rules no matter whether they are an ordinary citizen or a part of the legislature.
Modern rule of law theory derives from the British constitutional theorist A.V.Dicey. Dicey studied at Oxford and was called to the Bar at Inner Temple.
Dicey argued that for rule of law to be unpheld in Britain, the British parliament must have absolute parliamentary soveriengty with the power to make or unmake any law. He also argued that the British courts should be free from political intervention. Dicey’s most renowned books are ‘Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution’ and ‘Conflict of Laws’.
The United Nations have defined the Rule of Law as:
It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.
The International Development Organisation has described rule of law as an ‘enabler’ or justice.
Quite simply, rule of law ensures that every person is treated the same before the law and that their is a legitemate legal system in place. Without rule of law there can be no justice, transparency or legitemacy of law.