What Is Law?


Law is a collection of rules that shape politics, economics, history and society in many different ways. It defines and regulates relations between humans, and it shapes the relationships between states and nations. Laws can be found in a variety of places, including judicial decisions, statutes, constitutions and treaties. The term “law” can also be used to refer to any set of rules and principles that govern a particular subject area: for example, the laws of science or the law of music. Laws are created, enforced and enforced by people called judges, lawyers and police.

There are a number of types of law: criminal, civil, constitutional, administrative and customary. Each legal system has its own approach to the creation and application of law, but most share some common justice ideals. For example, a judge must always be fair, impartial and independent.

In the Western world, the legal system is generally based on either “common law” or “civil law”. Common law is a set of rules developed through the courts’ case-by-case rulings, rather than being explicitly codified. It is based on the principle of stare decisis, meaning that the decisions of higher courts are binding on lower courts, and will be followed in similar cases. Civil law is a system of rules that are adopted and enforced through the legislative branch of government.

Both of these systems are influenced by a combination of ancient Greek philosophy, Roman law and medieval English case law. The modern practice of law involves a mix of both civil and common law, with some rules coming from international conventions or treaties.

The scope of a country’s law may vary widely from region to region, and even within a single nation-state. For example, some countries use a civil law system, while others have religious or customary law as their primary source of law.

In many countries, the government sets out a wide range of laws to govern the conduct of its citizens. These laws might include regulations relating to business, employment and consumer protection, and criminal and traffic law. In addition, there might be national and international laws that deal with human rights and environmental protection.

A legal system should be transparent and accessible. It should be publicized and stable, and ensure that all citizens are equal before the law. The processes by which the law is adopted, administered and adjudicated should be free from corruption and bribery. It is also important that the judiciary, politicians and other public servants understand and respect the law, are honest and impartial, and are representative of the makeup of the community they serve. If a majority of a country’s population infringes on the rights of a minority, it is important that a court hears their grievances. This is known as a democracy’s “rule of law”. The opposite of rule of law would be rule by tyrants, dictatorships or mobs. See also rule of law, legal ethics, justice and the legal profession.