Law is a set of rules enforceable by social institutions. These can include government, courts, and groups of citizens. It shapes social, political, economic, and cultural conditions. The law also shapes history.
Legal systems can be divided into civil, common law, or mixed legal systems. Each system has a specific method of reasoning and interpreting the law. A civil legal system consists of less detailed judicial decisions, while a common law system is more elaborate. Unlike common law legal systems, judges in a civil legal system are writing to resolve one case at a time.
Law also involves the regulation of utilities and public services. For example, water and gas are regulated industries. Regulations are also applied to a range of industries including telecomms. International law, on the other hand, refers to the laws of supranational organisations.
Law has been variously described as a science, an art, and a philosophy. Utilitarian theories remained dominant until the twentieth century. During that time, the concept of “natural law” re-emerged, mainly in connection with the idea of justice. In the United States, this concept became more widespread through the work of Thomas Aquinas.
Law is a critical part of American society. Equality before the law is essential to the system’s functioning. As a result, there are many laws related to ensuring that individuals are treated fairly and are not discriminated against. There are also a number of different types of legislation that govern the practice of law.
Common law legal systems are the oldest. These systems are often inflexible and inefficient. While they have some similarities to modern systems, there are key differences between them.
In common law systems, the doctrine of precedent means that higher court decisions bind lower court decisions. This allows courts to hear both sides of a controversy and make a decision.
Common law legal systems have the advantage of a less complex judicial process. However, they are also more difficult to interpret. They are also more dependent on analogy. If two courts agree on the same outcome, the outcome is considered legal.
In contrast, common law legal systems explicitly acknowledge that some decisions by the executive are “law.” That is, the executive can issue decrees that are not enforceable in courts. Nevertheless, a common law legal system must consider those decisions as law.
Another advantage of common law is that the courts can hear grievances from minority groups. However, this is not the case for all systems. Some have adopted a doctrine of “arbitration.” Private individuals can also create contracts that are legally binding.
Another important characteristic of modern legal systems is that they have a clear professional identity. Modern lawyers must have a Juris Doctor degree, and pass a qualifying examination. Higher academic degrees, such as a Master of Legal Studies, are available.
Legal systems are also categorized into civil, common law, or religious. Religion-based law is usually based on religious precepts. Islamic Sharia is one type of religious law.