What is Law?

Law is the system of rules that a society or government develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements and social relationships. It can also refer to the professions that work in this field, including lawyers and judges.

It is difficult to give a definition of law because legal systems differ and individuals have different views. However, the law is generally regarded as a set of rules created by a society that forms a framework to ensure a peaceful society and is enforced so that sanctions can be imposed when the rules are broken.

Traditionally, judicial decisions have been regarded as the basis for law, although laws are now often made by legislation (or regulation). The common law, which is still used in some countries, has been characterised by the use of ancient maxims, such as ‘an eye for an eye’ and’reward follows punishment’.

The legal system can be divided into civil and criminal law. Civil law is based on a constitution, which provides the foundation for a system of court procedures and the rights and duties of citizens. Criminal law is a system of punishments and restrictions on the freedoms of citizens. Property law covers ownership of land and possessions, such as houses or cars, whereas intellectual property, labour and company law regulate commercial activities, trade unions and the running of companies.

Many governments also have a regulatory role, controlling industries such as banking and energy. This is to insure that the financial stability of a country is protected and to provide public utilities such as water.