Rule of Recognition Law and Legal Definition

Rule of recognition is a central part of H.L.A. Hart's theory on legal positivism. It is the fundamental rule by which all other rules are identified and understood. According to Hart, a society's legal system is centered on rules. There are primary and secondary rules of obligation. The primary rules prescribe how a person should act in society and the secondary rules are rules by which the primary rules are created, identified, changed, and understood. A rule of recognition is a secondary rule that instructs citizens on when a pronouncement or societal principle constitutes a rule of obligation. According to Hart, rule of recognition arises out of a convention among officials whereby they accept the rule's criteria as standards that empower and govern their actions as officials.