What is Law?
Law is a system of rules that governs the relationships between people, organizations and nations. It has a major impact on politics, economics, history and society.
Law may be defined as an authoritative rule governing the behavior of people or their institutions (as well as the nature of their rights and obligations), and is often derived from a written or tacit constitution. It is a system of social control in which individuals and groups have legal protections against wrongful or abusive actions by others.
Commonly, the word law refers to an official rule that is enforced by a government, typically a legislature or executive branch of state power. The term can also be applied to a formal legal procedure, such as a trial or arbitration.
The term law is usually applied to a particular set of statutory rules defining the rights and responsibilities of individuals or organisations, although some laws are governed by broader principles, and others may be based on custom or tradition.
There are several different kinds of law and some legal systems combine them in various ways, as in the United States, where there is both federal and state law. A law can be a written document, such as a statute, or it can be an informal agreement between the parties, such as a stipulation.
A law may be enacted by a legislative body or by the executive through a process called executive action. It can also be enacted by an independent judicial body, such as a court of law.
Legislative bodies may be composed of a president and a parliament or two houses, such as the House of Representatives and the Senate. A new law becomes a law when it is passed by both chambers and signed by the president.
Depending on the jurisdiction, law can be a set of written or oral rules, such as an international treaty, or it can be a set of guiding values or moral principles, such as the laws of a religion. There are many different forms of law and some legal disciplines are more popular than others.
For example, property law is a complex and diverse field that encompasses everything from ownership of land to personal possessions such as cars or computers. It also covers issues such as mortgages, rentals, leases, licensing, covenants, easements and statutory systems for land registration.
Some legal fields are specialized, such as aviation law and tax law. Other legal areas are general, such as human rights law.
Law is a highly regulated profession and modern lawyers achieve a distinct professional identity through specified legal procedures, such as passing a qualifying examination or gaining a special qualification, such as a degree in law. In addition, they must meet professional standards governed by a regulatory body such as the bar association, law council or law society.
The main aims of law are to regulate the conduct of society, create and maintain social order, protect individuals from injustice, promote the common good, and preserve and strengthen democratic values. These aims can be achieved in a wide range of ways, such as through regulation, education, and legislation, or through creative jurisprudence and interpretation.