What is Law?

Law is the system of rules a society or government makes and enforces to regulate behaviour, prevent crime, make business agreements and deal with social relationships. It can also refer to the people who work in this area, especially judges and police officers.

Most countries today have a constitutional body that writes the general framework for their laws, with smaller parliaments or congresses, called assemblies, elected by citizens to vote on more detailed decisions on particular issues. The assembly members may be partisan (support one political party), but their decisions must be based on a constitution and other legal principles. The laws must be made in the public interest, to protect the rights of all citizens. The law must be clear and easy to understand, so that it can be understood and enforced. The law must also be fair and impartial.

Law covers a wide range of subjects, ranging from international law to family law, criminal law and civil procedure. It can also involve the philosophy of legal philosophy and theory, or the study of comparative law.

Some of the main types of law are contract law, property law and intellectual property law. Contract law governs the rights and duties of people who buy, sell or rent homes and land (real property), and things attached to them. This includes mortgages, rental agreements and easements. It also relates to contracts between companies and other individuals for trading goods or services, and to statutory systems of land registration. The right to use an object owned by another person belongs to that owner, whereas the right to sell it, for example, belongs to the purchaser. Property law also governs trusts, and rules on what can be used with movable objects (called personal property), for instance a company’s name or a logo.

Legal systems can be different, and they change over time with the development of societies. The Code of Hammurabi, for example, is often seen as a precursor to modern law. Laws can also be based on religious beliefs and books, for example the Jewish Halakha and Islamic Shari’a, or Christian Canon law. The law is also closely linked to religion, and the belief that there is a spiritual authority that can decide moral and ethical questions. This belief is sometimes called natural law.