What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules that a society or government develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. You can also use the word to refer to people who work in this system, such as lawyers or police officers.

Law may be an innate part of humans’ character, or it can be acquired over time. Regardless, it has an important role in a society’s stability and development.

A nation’s law can be used to keep the peace, maintain the status quo, preserve individual rights, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice, and provide for orderly social change. Some nations have more effective legal systems than others.

In common law systems, decisions by courts are explicitly acknowledged as “law” on equal footing with statutes adopted through the legislative process and with regulations issued by the executive branch. This is the basis for the doctrine of precedent (also known as stare decisis), which holds that lower courts should follow higher court decisions, to assure that similar cases reach similar results.

Some laws are written down, while others are based on custom and interpretation of a set of guiding principles. Examples of these are the laws that govern how people can act in public places and the rules governing how people should treat each other in relationships, such as marriage or family.

There are two main types of law: common law and civil law. The former is based on concepts, categories and rules that originated in Roman law, while the latter was influenced by local custom or culture and adapted to the specific needs of a particular society.

Civil law systems have a long tradition of cooperation among human beings, and are found on all continents. Their concepts, laws, and practices have been largely secularized over the centuries but still promote the concept of personal freedom.

The emergence of modern science and technology has led to the expansion of international trade and commerce, which has a corresponding impact on legal systems. For example, international trade has shaped the law of intellectual property.

Another area of interest is the regulation of money and transactions. This includes regulations of interest rates, the amount of money a bank must hold, and how much capital a business must invest.

Companies are a key part of a country’s economic structure and are an important form of legal organization. The law governing companies is complex and varied, but the basic framework of company ownership and management is derived from the medieval Lex Mercatoria. The law of the joint stock company is a codified version of this original principle.

Commercial law is a broad field of practice that covers contract, property, and insurance. The common law of company law, which is the foundation for modern commercial laws, developed from the medieval laws of trusts, and has evolved to include elements such as bills of exchange, agency, and insolvency and bankruptcy.

Freezeout transactions, in which a controlling shareholder buys out the minority shareholders, have occurred more frequently since the stock market downturn of 2000 and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires companies to report their financial statements, which can be audited by a professional auditor.