The Evolution of Legal Authority: From Common Law to Digital Age

Over time, the concept of legal authority has undergone significant changes and transformations. From the traditional common law system to the modern digital age, the legal authority has evolved, and its impact on society cannot be overemphasized.

Common Law System

Common law is a legal system that traces its origin to England. It is based on the concept of the unwritten law of the land, which is developed by judges who interpret previous cases, customs, and traditional practices. The legal authority in a common law system is vested in courts and judges. Though some countries have abolished the common law system, it remains the basis of legal systems in many parts of the world, including the United States.

Statutory Law

In addition to the common law system, most countries have a statutory law, which is a formal code of laws enacted by the legislature. In contrast to the common law system, where legal authority lies with judges, in statutory law, legal authority rests with the elected representatives of the people.

The Rise of Administrative Law

With the growth of government and expanding bureaucracy, the sphere of administrative law has significantly grown in recent times. Administrative law refers to the entire body of law that regulates the relationship between the government and its agencies, officials, and the public. This has become a significant source of legal authority over time.

Digital Age and Legal Authority

In the digital age, the traditional concept of legal authority is being challenged. The traditional sources of legal authority, such as legislation and judicial precedents, are no longer sufficient to regulate the complex interactions between the digital world and the society. The digital world introduces new challenges, such as cybersecurity, data protection, and privacy concerns that require innovative legal frameworks.

The evolution of digital law has given rise to new sources of legal authority. These include international law, online policies, and agreements that regulate the use of digital technology. For example, online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google have introduced their policies that govern how users interact with them. These policies have become a source of legal authority, as they regulate online interactions.


In conclusion, the concept of legal authority has undergone significant changes and transformations over the years. From common law to the digital age, legal authority has expanded beyond the traditional sources of legislation and judicial precedents. The rise of administrative law, international law, and online policies has contributed to the evolving sources of legal authority. As the digital age continues to evolve, new challenges will arise that will require innovative legal frameworks to regulate the interactions between the digital world and society.