I'm looking for a word meaning 'governed/demanded by law' – I've thought about legislative as well as lawful, but whereas both are to do with laws, neither seems to mean 'governed/demanded by laws'. For instance, legislative intervention seems to mean 'intervention by making laws', and lawful intervention seems to mean 'intervention allowed by law', rather than 'intervention governed/demanded by law'. Am I right about this, and, if so, what word can I use instead of legislative and lawful?

Examples (X=the word I'm looking for):

If he is prevented from seeing his child due to X intervention by the social services, he may...

They were unable to go through with the project due to X injunction by the local authorities

  • 1
    It would help if you added context, such as an example sentence or paragraph in which you would want to use such a word, so we can better understand just what words, if any, would suit. Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 14:11
  • 1
    UK legislation often uses the phrase "required by law"
    – user35069
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 15:56

2 Answers 2


Legislative comes from Latin and means making laws, it is the arm of the government that proposes, discusses, and then decides what should be law. It is joined by the Executive (the arm that executes, again, from Latin) and the Judicative (the arm that judges, again, from Latin). It does not mean 'following the law' in any way. Legislative intervention means "intervention of the lawmaking body (my making new laws)".

Lawful is, according to Meriam Webster:

. a: being in harmony with the law
. b: constituted, authorized, or established by law : RIGHTFUL

This indeed is actually synonym to "following the law" or "as prescribed by the law". Lawful intervention means "an intervention that follows the law" and is what you look for.

Good synonyms for "lawful" in the use of intervention following the law would be legal (esp. 3: conforming to or permitted by law or established rules) and licit (conforming to the requirements of the law)

However, there is no single word that makes a required by law intervention. In a legal text (here: legal in use 1: of or relating to law) such a demand would be phrased as mandatory intervention or legal obligation. Mandatory means that there was no discretion of the intervening body and would fit for actions of an executive body (e.g. social services), while the second example of injunction does not need an extra word: injunction itself is a legal term meaning a court order to do/not do something.

  • Thank you! I think mandatory is exactly what I'm looking for!
    – Helen
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 14:54
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    @Helen it does not say anything about the legality though, just that it has to be done. mandatory is "because it is demanded" - made that a little clearer with your examples.
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 15:31
  • Right – I see the difference :) Thanks for the clarification – in your answer as well as your comment :)
    – Helen
    Commented Oct 1, 2021 at 20:35

It is easier to provide examples than to analyze this question in the abstract, because correct usage is quite context specific. Here are words that would fit the examples provided:

"If he is prevented from seeing his child due to a legally authorized/court authorized/legally required intervention by the social services, he may..."

"They were unable to go through with the project due to a court ordered/legally authorized/legally valid injunction by the local authorities"

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