The law is a set of rules that govern the conduct of people and entities in a particular jurisdiction. This includes laws regulating criminal and civil rights, business, and property, among others.
It is a social system that shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways. It is also a mediator of relations between people, and serves as an important force for orderly social change.
Definition of Law
A legal rule that is governed by a controlling authority and that embodies certain practices, customs, and procedures for dealing with crime, business, social relationships, property, and finance.
Some authors define law as a ‘normative science’, while others think of it as an ‘organic growth’ that has no fixed form and varies with time and place.
In general, laws are made by a political or social group and then enforced by others, including courts and other officials. The rule of law is a system that provides for a free society and serves many purposes:
A nation’s law can serve to keep the peace, maintain the status quo, preserve individual rights, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice, and provide for orderly social change.
The law should be accessible, fair, and efficient in delivering justice. It should also ensure that human rights are protected and that property, contract, and procedural rights are enshrined in law.
Some scholars believe that the most useful way to understand law is to study the institutions, practices, and principles that shape it.
One such institution is the legislature, which enacts laws. A legislature may impose taxes, adopt laws, levy penalties and fines, and authorize government agencies to enforce the law.
Another important body of law is the judiciary, which determines who has the power to make a decision, and what that decision will be. The judiciary is also charged with interpreting the law to ensure that it applies evenly, consistently, and fairly.
There are many different kinds of law, each with its own special characteristics and challenges. Some of the most common areas include:
Criminal law; Administrative law (also called ‘laws of the land’) and commercial law. The criminal law deals with the punishment of crimes, while the administrative law relates to issues such as employment, education, and immigration.
Corporate law covers complex contracts and property matters. It traces back to the medieval Lex Mercatoria and contains statutes such as the UK Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the US Uniform Commercial Code.
Commerce law deals with laws that control trade, such as antitrust, competition, and consumer protection. It tries to prevent businesses from engaging in activities that threaten consumers’ interests, such as price fixing or deceptive advertising.
Companies are legally liable for the actions of their employees. The company must pay compensation if an employee breaks a contract or commits a crime, and can also be sued for damages caused by an infringement of the corporation’s rights.
There are also laws governing people’s lives, such as family law and immigration law. These cover marriage and divorce, custody of children, as well as the rights of people to social security and other benefits.