Difference between Substantive law and Procedural Law

Difference between Substantiative and Procedural Law
Difference between Substantiative and Procedural Law


There exist several laws that surround society. Some are written laws, some are passed down through generations, some are societal norms, and others, are legislative. Not all laws that surround society can be legally enforced such as societal norms on our daily movements and actions that are mentioned historically in scriptures or evolved with the evolution of society. Others are laws that are made by our lawmakers. Such can be defined as Substantive Law and Procedural Law respectively. Both of these concepts have differences that give a definite understanding of each of these concepts.


Substantive law

Substantive law is the law governing our society, with norms guiding the behaviour of each member of society. The day-to-day lives of a person are governed by such norms and upon non-conformity society imposes certain punishments of its own without taking the laws into its hand.

Such situations present themselves every day in court, certain wrongs that are listed under legislative wrongs are indefinite also societal wrongs and hance substantiative laws give an understanding of how guilty or innocent one is when the judgement is driven through such a concept.


Procedural Law

Procedural law is the law that directs the correct execution of substantive law according to established law and its practice. When a case is being presented the procedure of presenting the case facts, witnesses, evidence and testimony all require a certain aspect of the law to be followed and are as well a part of such an execution. The concepts of writs, plea hearings, bail hearings, custody and investigation, are all a part of this procedural law that surrounds our society as a shield from committing social and civil wrongs.


 Difference between Substantive and Procedural Law

  • Substantive law is the societal obligation and rights of an individual. Procedural law is the proper legal execution of the obligations owed and the rights that follow i.e., all that is a part of Substantive law procedurally.
  • Substantive law governs how an individual is expected to behave whereas Procedural law governs the flow of legal procedures.
  • Substantive law is concerned with the guidance of the people with rights that a citizen holds and the duties that follow him with the entitlement of these rights. Procedural law is concerned with giving an understanding of how substantiative law needs to be executed.
  • Substantive law is applicable only in the legal context and is governed by the parliament while procedural law is applicable in both legal and non-legal matters and is governed by statutory provisions as constituted.
  • Since Substantive law is concerned with norms, it defines what rights each party hold and ultimately what punishment must preclude the wrongdoer. Procedural law is concerned with the stator provisions made and hence defines how to go about and execute a civil or criminal lawsuit.



The two concepts revolve closely around each other and, in more ways than can be understood, support each other and provide a frame for the procedure of law to be followed along with the rights and punishments that guide such proceedings when a case of civil or criminal wrong presents itself. Substantive law may apply to such situations only outside the courts while the other presents itself during matters being presented in the court. The factor of legality brings out the major difference that lies between these concepts, putting forward a slightly clearer understanding.  


Written by Sharanyaa Sigtia

I am an enthusiastic learning writer. The concept of writing has always felt enriching to me and inspired me to start writing as a budding writer. The different topics that can be covered and moulded by us through our work fascinates me and gives me an incentive to write.

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