Jacques Derrida‘s “Before the Law” was first given as a lecture to the Royal Philosophical Society in London in 1982. An English translation by Avital Ronell was published as “Devant la Loi” in Kafka and the Contemporary Critical Performance: Centenary Readings. Ed. Alan Udoff (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987). The following text is from Derek Attridge (ed.) Acts of Literature, Jacques Derrida, N.Y, London, Routledge, 1992.
Derrida also notes that the word `before’, also means PRIOR, something that comes before something else in a temporal sequence. So `before the law’ also implies something which comes into existence PRIOR to the Law. In Derrida’s view what comes `prior’ to the Law is `difference’: the structure of differences and deferrals, which postpones the presence of the law indefinitely at the same times is the condition for its existence. It is this structure of `differance’, which constitutes and at the same time postpones the existence of the Law. It is this structure of differance which creates the deconstructive aporiartic existence the heart of both leagal and the literary discourses.