What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules created by the state which form a framework to ensure a peaceful society and which can be enforced if they are broken. The laws can be created by the state through mechanisms like police or courts and the sanctions for breaking them can include fines and imprisonment. Laws can be complex and varied, governing a wide range of activities such as business transactions, criminal activities and property ownership. They are usually written and voted on by people within a country in a legislature such as parliament or congress. Some countries have constitutions that set the overall framework of laws whilst others make further laws for matters of detail. For the most part, a single country’s laws apply to all members of the governed public.

The most common forms of law are legislative, regulatory and case-based. Legislation, which is made by people with the power to do so, creates a set of rules that are binding on a certain area or type of activity, whilst regulations are terse statements of general principle. Case-based law, however, is more complex. A judge must first ascertain the facts of a case. Then they must locate and read precedential decisions on that same topic, and extract principles, analogies and statements of legal reasoning from those cases to determine what the law on the facts of a particular case is.

The main purposes of Law are establishing standards, maintaining order and resolving disputes. The specific way that this is done differs from nation to nation, which in turn can influence the culture of a society and the attitudes of its citizens. It is also important for the Law to protect people’s liberties and rights, but this can often be complicated by issues of power and authority.