The Oxford Guide to Law

Law is the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and imposing consequences when these rules are broken. It is also the study of this system, its principles and structures.

Oxford Reference provides concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries across this broad discipline, covering topics from criminal law and taxation to human rights, employment, family, and international law. In addition, it explores major debates in legal theory, as well as the structure and organization of legal systems around the world.

Legal scholars are increasingly interested in the way law works and how it influences society. For example, in a democracy the law helps to maintain social stability and prevents tyranny by providing checks and balances on the power of government through its separation into legislative, executive, and judicial branches. It also provides a basis for societal justice by protecting fundamental human, property and procedural rights. It also establishes a sense of fairness and equality through its provision for compensation when people or their property are harmed, such as in tort law or defamation law. However, despite its importance for the state and for society, there are still challenges to its effectiveness and sustainability.