What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules made and enforced by social or governmental institutions to govern human conduct. It is a complex field with diverse subjects that are widely debated, ranging from the precise definition of “law” to its role in shaping politics and economics, history and society.

A country’s legal system may differ greatly from one another, reflecting its history and culture. Generally, there are two main types of law: civil and criminal. Civil law involves non-criminal claims such as torts, divorce, contracts, or property disputes. Crimes include theft, robbery and murder.

In a country with a civil law system, judges interpret laws and case-law based on principles and precedent. This is known as the rule of stare decisis, whereby decisions of higher courts bind lower ones. In contrast, a country with a common law legal system places statutes and regulations on equal footing with court rulings.

The subject of law covers all aspects of the lives of people and their interactions with one another. The most fundamental subjects include family law, which includes divorce, child support and custody, and employment law, which concerns such issues as job security, health and safety and the right to strike.

Other fields of law include administrative, corporate and commercial law. Company law encompasses joint stock companies, trusts and limited liability, while insolvency and bankruptcy, insurance law, bills of exchange, sales law and tax law are important areas of the modern practice of law.

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