What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules that a society develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements and social relationships. This is an area of study which has been the subject of many books and debates. People are interested in law for many reasons but the most common is that they are worried about the way it affects their daily lives. They may also be interested in a career in law or how the legal system works.

The nature of law is not easy to define because people have different ideas about what it should be. Generally, however, it is accepted that the main functions of the law are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. A second issue concerns whether the law is a source of morality or evil and, if it is, what role it should play in our societies. A third point is that the law is not the only normative domain in a culture; morality, religion and social conventions all guide behavior in many ways similar to that governed by the law. Thus the question arises whether the intelligibility of the law depends on its distinction from these other normative domains or, as some have argued, is merely a special case of them.

Various theories of law are put forward, including those which see it as a source of morality, as a means of preserving the integrity of a society, or as a mechanism for controlling power. In recent years the popularity of the latter has increased, and there is a growing interest in how the law should be changed to reflect the views of modern society.

Other areas of law include labour law, which deals with the tripartite relationship between worker, employer and trade union, and includes regulations such as health and safety legislation. Property law covers a person’s rights and duties toward their tangible property, such as land and houses, and intangible property like money and shares. Tort law protects people from the wrongful harm caused by others, for example an accident or defamation of character. Criminal law covers offences against the state and includes censorship, homicide and treason. Law is an area of intense debate and scholarly activity, with new books being written all the time. It is important that the public understand this area of life, so that they can choose their leaders and make informed decisions about how they want their governments to be run. The laws of a country are an important factor in building and maintaining peace. They can help to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and that all are protected from the ravages of war, poverty and disease. They can also protect the interests of children and old people and prevent them from being exploited by businesses or financial institutions. In addition they can provide a framework for economic development and stability. The laws of a country can also provide checks on the power of the government and prevent abuses of its authority, by allowing a free and independent press and ensuring that there is a smooth transition of power.