The Oxford Reference to the Law


The Law is the set of rules that a particular society or community recognises as regulating behaviour. It can be created by a collective legislature, leading to statutes; by the executive through decrees and regulations; or judicially, by precedent in countries with common law traditions. Law can also be applied to individuals, through contracts and private agreements enforceable in court.

Many of the areas covered by the law are specialised: contract law deals with exchanges of goods or services, for example a bus ticket or a share in a company; property law defines people’s rights and duties towards tangible objects, such as houses and cars; employment law covers the tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union; while criminal and civil procedure laws detail the ways in which courts must conduct trials and appeals.

In a democracy, citizens are empowered by the law to hold government officials accountable for their actions, and for redress when they feel wronged. However, in some places, this has been distorted by tyrannical or bad laws, and by the exercise of power over daily life that modern military, police and bureaucratic agencies can command.

Oxford Reference offers comprehensive coverage of the law, with thousands of concise definitions and in-depth encyclopedic entries written by trusted experts. From the core concepts of criminal, family and civil law to the major debates in legal theory, it’s a comprehensive guide to all aspects of the law. In addition, a wide range of cross-references help to illuminate the relationships between different areas of the law.