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. It can also be used to refer to the people who work in this system, such as lawyers.

A law is a rule that must be obeyed. It is commonly made by a government, and citizens must follow it or face punishment. For example, there are laws about not stealing, and if someone is caught stealing, they could be fined or put in jail. The word can also be used more broadly to refer to a set of laws, such as all the laws of a nation. For example, murder is against the law in most places.

The law can be described as the rules and guidelines that govern a nation’s citizens. It includes rules devised by man that he deems to be in the best interests of society as a whole, and it can also include laws that are derived from nature or revealed in scripture. Sir William Blackstone, whose commentary on the law of England served as a basic text for law students during America’s early history, stated that the law was the will of the Creator, and that “if a law be contrary to this, it is no law at all.”

Whether a law is created by man or is innate, the purpose of law is to serve many functions, including establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights. Different legal systems serve these purposes in different ways. For instance, an authoritarian regime may keep the peace and maintain the status quo, but it may also oppress minorities or promote social change at too rapid of a pace.

In contrast, a constitutional democracy serves its intended purposes more effectively than an autocracy by ensuring that all individuals are treated equally before the law, and that the majority opinion cannot overrule the minority. Moreover, democratic systems of law are able to preserve individual freedoms and encourage innovation and creativity by allowing for minority opinions to be heard in court.

Civil law systems, a type of law that is found on all continents and covers about 60% of the world’s population, provide a framework for cooperation between humans, with principles and rules arranged in codes and easily accessible to jurists and citizens. They are based on concepts, categories, and rules derived from Roman law with some influence of canon law, often supplemented or modified by local custom or culture. They are characterized by a logical and dynamic taxonomy developed from Roman law and reflected in the structure of their codes, and they are generally adapted to accommodate change. The branch of law most hospitable to the Will Theory is private law, where rights function as a kind of small-scale sovereign power over normative positions (Hart 1982: 183). Thus, for example, holders of property rights are empowered, within limits, to waive compliance with duties owed to them by others, and to forgo or annul their claim-rights to property, privileges, or powers.