What Is Law?


Law is the system of rules that a society or government develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements and social relationships. It can also refer to the people who work in this system, such as lawyers and judges.

The meaning of law can vary widely from country to country, and the word itself is a very general term that includes many different areas of legislation and jurisprudence. In some countries the legal system is entirely based on court decisions, while others are governed by statutes.

In some places, the government is directly responsible for enforcing laws. This makes the system more democratic and transparent, and can make it easier for people to access justice.

There are many types of laws, from business and criminal law to consumer law and civil rights. They are often developed through legislation, and can be passed by parliament or by an executive branch of government.

Law is a complex set of rules that governs the way we live, from the treatment of animals to the rights of citizens. It involves a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, history, politics and economics.

Common law, which is the system that originated in England and is now used in most countries, consists of decisions made by courts on equal footing with statutes passed through the legislative process and regulations issued by the executive. The principle of stare decisis means that these judicial decisions bind lower courts and future cases, to ensure that they reach similar results.

Religion can play an important role in the development of law, and some religions have their own systems of laws. Examples of religious laws include Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia, which are based on the religious precepts of the Jews or the Muslims respectively.

Another type of law is derived from social practices and the customs of certain communities, such as family law or a local governing body, for example a town council or a village board. These are often more informal than laws based on a written code or law book, and may be more flexible.

The main aims of legal regulation are to protect people and the environment, as well as to provide services for the public. For example, some countries have a law that prohibits the use of environmentally damaging products.

In many OECD countries, public service and utilities are regulated by law, with some private companies performing the jobs once carried out by state-run bodies. This can be especially true of water and energy.

A variety of other forms of law can also be found in a society, such as contract and tort law. Tort law is often a way for people to recover compensation for harm caused by wrongful acts.

There are many different kinds of torts, some of which can be serious, such as medical malpractice or a breach of the duty of care. These can cause great suffering, both physical and financial, and may even be fatal.