I have general concerns about government overreach and encroachments upon liberties. On several occasions during the last two years I've heard people mention that a mandate is not a law. I'd like to understand the distinction. I'd also like to know to what extent mandates are enforceable, eg in a court case scenario. I'm especially interested in the UK, but would also like to understand other countries.
In general, a "mandate" is not a legal term. It can refer to any situation is whch people are "required" to do something, such as wear masks or become vaccinated. A mandate can come from a private business, that imposes rules on customers; it can come from a business that imposes rules on employees, it can come from executive action not directly authorized by any law, it can come from a regulation authorized by some law, or be directly imposed by law.
Mandates imposed by law or regulation are likely to be enforceable in court, depending on their exact terms.
Mandates imposed by executive action may perhaps be enforced in court. Mandates imposed by private businesses can often be enforced by the business ejecting a customer, refusing to deal with an entity that does not comply, or by disciplining or discharging an employee.
In each case the exact terms of the mandate will matter, and may define how it may be enforced.