What is Law?

Law is a set of rules that governs a society and sets limits on human freedom. It serves many purposes, including establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting rights.

The word ‘law’ has several different meanings: 1. A system of customary and statutory regulations enforced by the power of an authority. 2. The department of knowledge dealing with such laws. 3. A body of rules of a specific subject: see commercial law; criminal law; family law; property law; and international law. 4. The practice of law: a lawyer is a person who practices law. 5. A person who obeys a rule or a regulation. 6. A rule or principle of proper conduct sanctioned by conscience, concepts of natural justice, or the will of a deity: see moral law.

As an abstract concept, law is difficult to pin down, and people have very different ideas about what it is. However, there are certain aspects that most people agree on. For example, it is important for there to be clear and transparent procedures for making laws, and that laws are applied consistently and predictably. It is also important that everyone is treated equally, regardless of their social class or wealth.

Some of the main areas of law include contract law, which regulates agreements between people and the transfer of goods or services; criminal law, which deals with crimes such as murder, robbery and burglary; family law, which covers issues such as divorce and the rights of children; and employment law, which deals with problems that may arise in the workplace.

A wide range of other areas are covered by laws that deal with particular circumstances, such as immigration and nationality law, which govern the right to live in a nation-state without losing citizenship; and environmental law, which protects the natural world and prevents pollution. The law also governs the rights of businesses, including those that provide public utilities, such as electricity and water supply.

Many legal issues are dealt with through the courts, which are part of the judiciary branch of government. A judge is a person who sits in the court and hears legal cases brought by individuals or companies. In some countries, lawyers, who are qualified to interpret and apply the law, act as advisers to judges. They also represent clients in the courts, and are known as barristers or solicitors (in England and Wales) or attorneys (in Australia). In some cases, judges are assisted by a panel of lay members, who help them with their judgments.