The law does and should reflect moral rules

A rule was defined by Twining and Miers as a general norm mandating conduct. For a legal rule, the breaking of rules will result in a punishment, such as a fine, prison or a criminal record. Legal rules are there to keep society in order. Moral rules, however, are sometimes not deliberately made, and are within the individual due to beliefs they have, or due to the fact they would feel guilty if they participated in the breaking of the rule. Sometimes moral rules come from religion.

For example, Muslims can only eat meat if it Halal meat. Therefore, Muslim children will grow up with the idea that it is wrong to eat any other meat. Moral rules, if broken, have no punishment apart from the person's guilt. Hart believes that rules are obeyed for three reasons: The moral obligation carried with them; because the rules are reasonable and relevant; and because a penalty could be imposed if they are broken. The law may reflect moral values to some extent.

The United Kingdom is mainly a Christian country, and so many of our morals would come from the Ten Commandments. The law reflects some of these morals. For example, the law against murder, set down in the Homicide Act 1957, reflects the moral set in the Ten Commandments: 'Thou shall not kill' , and in the civil law of negligence, the Neighbour test set down in Caparo v Dickman could be said to represent the commandment of : ' Thou shall respect thy neighbour '.

On the other hand, the law can only reflect the morals so far, because morals are an internal thing in the individual, and so change throughout the country, meaning the law cannot represent everybody's individual morals. One example is the diversity of opinions on abortion. The Abortion Act 1967 made it legal for women to abort their unborn babies. Although it may be legal, many people disagree with abortion; this is therefore an example of when law conflicts with morals, as it is only upholding some of the countries morals.

An example where most of the nation would agree to the law due to their own morals are the offences set down in the offences against the person's act 1861, and the laws on murder. However, the law doesn't reflect morals in some cases. One example is adultery. The Ten Commandments rule that adultery should not be committed, and most people would agree, but there is no law in the UK against committing adultery anymore. Another way in which law reflects morals is the law on euthanasia. A lot of people believe euthanasia is wrong, as everyone has a right to live.

The law does uphold this view, however in the case of Airedale NHS trust v Bland (1993) this law was gone against and feeding tubes were taken from the patient, even though this would be what caused his death, and the courts ruled this as acceptable. There are different arguments as to whether the law should reflect morals or not. These arguments came from Professor Hart and Professor Devlin, following the 1957 Wolfenden Committee Report, which advised the legalisation of homosexuality and prostitution.

Professor Hart agreed with this, and said that morality is a private matter, and that law should not interfere with morals of individuals, as long as they're not hurting anyone. Professor Devlin argued that society needed the observance of moral principles, and that the law should support morals. Two cases which represent the Hart Devlin debate on whether law should reflect morals or not are: R v Wilson (1997) and R v Brown (1993) In R v Wilson, a husband branded his wife with his initials, with her consent.

Professor Hart would agree with this ruling, as this act was done in private and not hurting anyone. However, in R v Brown, some homosexual sadomasochists caused injury to each other's genitals, but all had consented to this injury. This wasn't held to be acceptable, as the law on assault had been breached. Devlin would agree with this decision, as he stated that judges should still preserve common morality. Others in society would not have agreed with the actions in the case of Brown, which shows Devlins argument.

From this discussion we can see that there is a diversity of morals through the UK, and the law reflects some of these morals, for example the moral of not killing is reflected with murder; but not others, for example , adultery and abortion are not crimes, but most people would see these as wrong. We can also see that there are two sides to the argument of whether law should reflect morality or whether it should be a separate thing, AND Professor Hart and Professor Devlin both have valid points. Different individuals will agree with different points of view.