Tuesday, January 1, 2013

At the same time the law must not lag behind social behavior. It must be in step with the times and provide solutions to current problems, while also aiming to influence the way society acts and thinks. A striking example of how the law can change public attitudes is found in the United States, with the ruling of the Supreme Court in the 1950s declaring that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. Since then there has been a marked change, with both the passing of anti discrimination legislation as well as reduction in social prejudices, demonstrating “a social revolution that was almost entirely the result of a change in the law”
The law does not always produce fair or just results. People complain of alleged criminals “getting off” on legal technicalities. On the other hand those deserving legal relief may be shut out from it by legal rules. The Sri Lankan Constitution, for instance, states that persons alleging infringement of their fundamental rights must come before the Supreme Court within one month of such infringement. This time limit is regarded as unrealistic, but it has to be adhered to since the Constitution says so. 
While law may never be equated with justice, it must constantly strive to achieve justice. This can only be done if the law responds to criticism and attempts to change where necessary. Similarly the law has to be modified, with new areas being regulated and others being deregulated, with changes in society and social expectations.
           "The law is an immensely complex social machine. It is continually in need of patching, repairing, and from time to time overhauling in this or that area.... The work is unceasing, and we must not look for perfection or for finality".
With advances in technology and communications a number of new areas are opening up for legal intervention. In some of these the objectives are clear, although the method of regulation and enforcement may not be. Computer fraud child pornography on the internet are examples. Other areas however raise more complex ethical issues, highlighting the fact that law does not have all the answers.While many of these have not yet had a real impact on the developing world, they deserve attention as areas of concern in the 21st century.