What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has variously been described as a science or an art, but its precise definition remains a long-standing debate.

A legal system serves a variety of purposes, including keeping peace and maintaining the status quo; protecting individual rights; promoting social justice; and providing orderly social change. The best legal systems do these things well.

Public law covers the laws that govern people’s behavior within a society. These include laws on human rights, criminal law, and international agreements.

Private law involves contracts, estates, and business transactions. These are often regulated by state or federal governments.

Civil law is a type of legal system that developed in Europe, influenced by Roman law. It includes a comprehensive system of laws and regulations, usually arranged in codes that are accessible to the general public.

Its characteristics include a primarily legislative system, yet leaving room for the judiciary to adjust rules to social change and new needs through interpretation and creative jurisprudence. It emphasizes a clear expression of rights and duties, avoiding excessive detail and containing general clauses that permit adaptation to change.

Codes of law are written documents that specify the governing principles and procedures for all areas of the legal system. They can be found in many countries and are used by lawyers to guide their practice.

Traditionally, these documents have been interpreted by judges and scholars to arrive at a consensus as to what constituted the proper interpretation of the law. Modern lawyers often adopt a more flexible approach to interpretation.

The law is often a field of study that spans virtually all aspects of life. In addition to the core subjects of civil law and criminal law, there are also many sub-areas that can be studied, such as labour law, consumer law, and tax law.

For example, labour law focuses on the relationship between workers and their employers, as well as trade unions. It also deals with issues of employment discrimination and workplace rights.

Evidence law is the study of how to gather and present evidence during a trial or grand jury hearing. It can involve questions such as whether a witness is unbiased and the admissibility of materials presented orally by witnesses.

Commercial law is a branch of legal study that addresses business relationships and contracts. This can include everything from regulations on the terms of contractual agreements to rules on the sale and purchase of goods.

Competition law is a type of legal system that protects consumers against businesses that use their economic influence to distort market prices at the expense of consumers’ welfare. This type of law can be traced back to the Roman decrees that banned price fixing and has evolved into the antitrust statutes of modern countries.

Depending on the jurisdiction, legal scholarship may be written by students as Notes or Comments during their second year of law school or by non-student authors. This type of literature typically appears in law journals.