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Law vs. Bylaw: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 7, 2023
Law is a system of rules created and enforced through social or governmental institutions, while a bylaw is a rule made by a company or society to control its members.

Key Differences

Law refers to the system of rules that are recognized and enforced by a country or community's governing body. Bylaws, however, are rules and regulations established by an organization or community to govern its own members' actions and operations.
Laws are created through legislative processes and are applicable to the general public within a jurisdiction. Bylaws are made by private entities, like corporations or non-profit organizations, and apply only to the people within those organizations.
The enforcement of laws is carried out by governmental authorities, and failure to comply can result in penalties like fines or imprisonment. Bylaws, in contrast, are enforced internally within the organization, and penalties for non-compliance are usually less severe, such as fines or loss of membership.
Laws cover a broad range of issues, including criminal, civil, commercial, and administrative matters. Bylaws typically address more specific issues like the governance structure of an organization, member duties, and operational procedures.
The scope of laws is much wider, aiming to regulate society at large, maintain order, and protect rights and freedoms. Bylaws focus on the specific needs and governance of the organization they pertain to, guiding its internal functioning and administration.

Comparison Chart


Applies to everyone within a jurisdiction
Applies only to members of a specific organization


Made by governments or legislative bodies
Made by private organizations or societies


Enforced by the state or legal authorities
Enforced internally within the organization


To regulate society, maintain order, protect rights
To govern the internal operations of an organization

Penalties for Breach

Can include fines, imprisonment
Usually internal penalties like fines, suspension

Law and Bylaw Definitions


Legal principles and regulations established by a governing body.
The law requires businesses to pay taxes.


A rule made by a company or society to control its members.
The club's bylaws require attendance at meetings.


A system of rules created by a country or community to regulate behavior.
Breaking the law can result in fines or jail time.


Internal regulations governing an organization's operations.
The bylaw was amended to allow virtual memberships.


Official rules that govern society and ensure order.
The new traffic law reduced accidents significantly.


Rules established by a community or organization for self-governance.
Homeowners must adhere to the community's bylaws.


Binding rules enforced by a legal system.
She practiced law as a defense attorney.


A regulation made by a local authority applicable within its area.
The city's bylaws prohibit parking in that area.


The study of legal systems and principles.
He decided to study law to become a lawyer.


Detailed guidelines for the management of an organization.
The bylaw dictates the election process for board members.


A rule of conduct or procedure established by custom, agreement, or authority.


A law or rule governing the internal affairs of an organization.


A secondary law.


A local custom or law of a settlement or district.


A rule made by a local authority to regulate its own affairs.


A law or rule governing the internal affairs of an organization (e.g., corporation or business).


A rule made by a local authority to regulate its own affairs


Can laws be changed?

Yes, laws can be changed or amended through legislative processes.

What is a bylaw?

A bylaw is a rule or regulation set by an organization or community for its internal governance.

How are bylaws created?

Bylaws are created by private organizations, societies, or communities.

What is a law?

A law is a rule established and enforced by a governing body to regulate behavior and maintain order.

Are bylaws legally binding?

Bylaws are binding for the members of the organization but are not general public laws.

Who enforces bylaws?

Bylaws are usually enforced by the organization or community that created them.

Who creates laws?

Laws are created by governments or legislative bodies.

What happens if you break a law?

Breaking a law can result in legal penalties like fines, community service, or imprisonment.

How are bylaws amended?

Bylaws are amended according to the procedures outlined within the organization's governing documents.

Do bylaws need to be registered?

Bylaws may need to be registered or filed depending on local regulations and the type of organization.

Are laws the same in every country?

No, laws vary significantly between different countries and regions.

Can anyone create a bylaw?

Only organizations or communities with the authority to do so can create bylaws.

What is the role of law enforcement?

Law enforcement agencies are responsible for upholding and enforcing laws.

Can laws be challenged in court?

Yes, laws can be challenged in court if they are believed to be unconstitutional or unjust.

What happens if you violate a bylaw?

Violating a bylaw can lead to internal penalties within the organization, like fines or loss of privileges.

Do laws apply to everyone?

Laws apply to everyone within the jurisdiction where they are in effect.

Can a law be unfair?

A law can be perceived as unfair, and legal systems often have mechanisms to challenge or change it.

Can bylaws conflict with laws?

Bylaws cannot legally conflict with state or national laws.

How are new laws introduced?

New laws are introduced through legislative proposals, debates, and voting processes.

Are bylaws public record?

Bylaws of certain organizations, especially public ones, may be a matter of public record, but this varies.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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