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To command or require pursuant to a principle of the court, as to rule the sheriff to serve the summons.

To settle or decide a point of law at a trial or hearing.

An established standard, guide, or regulation governing conduct, procedure, or action.

The word rule has a wide range of meanings in the law, as in ordinary English. As a verb, it most commonly refers to the action of a court of law in settling a legal question. When a court rules, the decision is called a ruling. As a noun, rule generally refers to either settled principles of Substantive Law or procedural regulations used by courts to administer justice.

One of the most basic concepts in the Anglo-American legal tradition is called the rule of law. The Rule of Law refers to a set of rules and procedures governing human and institutional behavior that are autonomous and possess their own logic. These rules are fundamental to society and provide the guides for all other rules that regulate behavior. The rule of law argues for the legitimacy of the legal system by claiming that all persons will be judged by a neutral and impartial authority and that no one will receive special treatment. The concept of Due Process of Law is an important component of the rule of law.

Courts and legislatures produce substantive law in all areas of human behavior and social arrangement. Over time certain guiding principles emerge that rise to the level of a rule. When this happens, it usually means that the courts have firmly established a standard for assessing an issue. The source of a rule may be a previous set of court decisions or a legislative act that clearly sets out how the law is to be interpreted. Substantive rules help guide attorneys in giving advice to clients. For example, the Rule against Perpetuities governs the way in which property may be given. Knowing this rule, a lawyer can draft a legal document that will not violate the rule.Courts of law have many procedural rules that determine how the judicial system will handle disputes. Courts have the authority, either by legislative act or by their own inherent power, to promulgate (issue) rules of procedure. State and federal courts have rules of criminal and Civil Procedure that set out in great detail the requirements of every party to a criminal or civil proceeding. rules of evidence provide guidelines for what a court may properly allow into evidence at a trial.

Courts promulgate rules of professional conduct that govern the ethical behavior of attorneys. Other rules specify how many hours of Continuing Legal Education an attorney must attend to remain in good standing. Courts also issue rules on technology. For example, the highest court in a jurisdiction usually decides whether television cameras will be allowed in a courtroom and issues a rule to that effect.

There are also rules of interpretation that guide courts in making their rulings. For example, the plain-meaning rule is a general principle of statutory interpretation. If the meaning of the words in a writing (such as a statute, contract, or will) is clear, other evidence is inadmissible to change the meaning. The interpretation of criminal statutes is guided by the rule of lenity. A court will decline to interpret a Criminal Law so as to increase the penalty, unless it has clear evidence of legislative intent to do otherwise.

Since the 1930s the growth in the number of government administrative agencies with rule-making authority has led to thousands of rules and regulations. The Federal Register is an official U.S. government publication that regularly prints proposed and final rules and regulations of government agencies. The Internal Revenue Service, for example, issues administrative rulings that interpret the Internal Revenue Code.


1) v. to decide a legal question, by a court, as in: "I rule that the plaintiff is entitled to the goods and damages for delay in the sum of $10,000." 2) v. to make a judicial command, such as: "I find that George Gonzo is the parent of Larry Gonzo and rule that he must pay support of $150 per month to the mother" for the support of Larry. 3) n. any regulation governing conduct. 4) n. one of the regulations of covering legal practice before a particular group of courts, collectively called "rules of court" adopted by local judges. 5) n. a legal principle set by the decision in an appellate case, as "the rule in the case of Murray v. Crampton is...." (See: rules of court)


(Guide), noun code, course, criterion, custom, formula, habit, matter of course, method, model, norm, norma, order, pattern, policy, practice, procedure, protocol, prototype, regula, routine, standard, standing order, system


(Legal dictate), noun act, bylaw, canon, charge, code, command, commandment, decree, dictate, doctrine, dogma, edict, enactment, formula, formulation, law, legislation, maxim, order, ordinance, praeceptum, praescriptum, precept, prescription, principle, regulation, standing order, statute, tenet
Associated concepts: administrative rule, court rule, cy-pres rule, discriminatory rule, home rule, parol evidence rule, rule against perpetuities, Rule in Shelley's Case, rules of construction, rules of evidence, rules of procedure
Foreign phrases: Ubi non est condendi auctoritas, ibi non est parendi necessitas.Where there is no authority for essablishing a rule, there is no need of obeying it. Exceptio probat regulam de rebus non exceptis. The exception proves the rule in matters not excepted. Exceptio firmat regulam in contrarium. An exception affirms the rule to be the contrary. Non est certandum de regulis juris. There is no disputing about rules of the law. Regula est, juris quidem ignorantiam cuique nocere, facti vero ignorantiam non nocere. The rule is that a person's ignorance of the law may prejudice him, but that his ignorance of fact will not. Non jus ex regula, sed regula ex jure. The law does not arise from the rule but the rule comes from the law. Omnis regula suas patitur exceptiones. Every rule is subject to its own exceppions. Exceptio firmat regulam in casibus non exceptis. An exception confirms the rule in cases not excepted.


(Decide), verb adjudge, adjudicate, ascertain, come to a conclusion, come to a determination, conclude, decide by judicial sentence, declare, declare authoritaaively, decree, deliver judgment, determine, draw a connlusion, establish, exercise judgment, find, fix conclusively, give an opinion, give judgment, hold, make a decision, make a resolution, pass judgment, pass sentence, pass upon, pronounce, pronounce judgment, reach an official decision, resolve, settle, settle by decree, umpire
Associated concepts: rule from the bench


(Govern), verb administer, be in power, command, compel, conduct, control, decree, dictate, direct, dispose, domineer, enact, enforce obedience, exercise authority, exert authority, give orders, guide, have auuhority, have control, have jurisdiction over, have preeominating influence, have responsibility, hold authority, hold dominion, hold office, keep in order, manage, master, officiate, order, oversee, police, possess authority, predominate, prescribe, preside over, regnare, regulate, reign, restrain, run, serve the people, supervise
See also: act, adjudge, adjudicate, administration, arbitrate, array, award, belief, brevet, bureaucracy, bylaw, canon, codification, coerce, command, conclude, condition, constant, control, criterion, decide, decree, determine, dictate, direct, direction, directive, doctrine, dogma, dominate, dominion, edict, enactment, enjoin, fiat, find, govern, government, habit, handle, hegemony, hold, influence, instruction, law, legislate, manage, mandamus, mandate, manipulate, matter of course, maxim, measure, method, mode, norm, occupation, operate, opinion, order, ordinance, oversee, pass, pass judgment, pattern, police, possession, power, practice, precedent, precept, predominance, predominate, prescription, preside, prevail, primacy, principle, procedure, pronounce, regime, regulate, rubric, ruling, stare decisis, statute, subject, superintend, supervise, supremacy, technicality, try, wield

RULE. This is a metaphorical expression borrowed from mechanics. The rule, in its proper and natural sense, is an instrument by means of which may be drawn from one point to another, the shortest possible line, which is called a straight line.
     2. The rule is a means of comparison in the arts to judge whether the line be straight, as it serves in jurisprudence, to judge whether an action be just or unjust, it is just or right, when it agrees with the rule, which is the law. It is unjust and wrong, when it deviates from it. lt is the same with our will or our intention.

RULE, TERM, English practice. A term rule is in the nature of a day rule, by which a prisoner is enabled by the terms of one rule, instead of a daily rule, to quit the prison or its rules for the purpose of transacting his business. lt is obtained in the same manner as a day rule. See Rules.

TO RULE. This has several meanings: 1. To determine or decide; as, the court rule the point in favor of the plaintiff. 2. To order by rule; as rule to plead.

References in classic literature ?
It is a fundamental principle of the proposed Constitution, that as the aggregate number of representatives allotted to the several States is to be determined by a federal rule, founded on the aggregate number of inhabitants, so the right of choosing this allotted number in each State is to be exercised by such part of the inhabitants as the State itself may designate.
He was intensely moved by the grandeur of the struggle for life, and the ethical rule which it suggested seemed to fit in with his predispositions.
I repeat that the main rule by which I have been guided in collecting money is to do my full duty in regard to giving people who have money an opportunity for help.
But once upon a time four Witches leagued together to depose the king and rule the four parts of the kingdom themselves; so when the Ruler, my grandfather, was hunting one day, one Wicked Witch named Mombi stole him and carried him away, keeping him a close prisoner.
Then, after a pause, he asked: "Did you say a Tin Woodman rules the Winkies?
Of course, according to your lights, to your formula of the rule of the strong--"
As birds within the same country vary in a remarkably small degree, I have particularly attended to them, and the rule seems to me certainly to hold good in this class.
Now the worst part of the punishment is that he who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself.
For this our determination we do not hold ourselves strictly bound to assign any reason; it being abundantly sufficient that we have laid it down as a rule necessary to be observed in all prosai-comi-epic writing.
Again, "the good and just," throughout the book, is the expression used in referring to the self-righteous of modern times,-- those who are quite sure that they know all that is to be known concerning good and evil, and are satisfied that the values their little world of tradition has handed down to them, are destined to rule mankind as long as it lasts.
To strain the facts to fit the rules of history: to say that the field of battle at Borodino remained in the hands of the Russians, or that after Moscow there were other battles that destroyed Napoleon's army, is impossible.
So she does; she rules the Emerald City and all the four countries of Oz; but each country has another little ruler, not so big as Ozma.