Law is a set of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate, and it has been variously described as a science and as the art of justice.
The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in many different ways, but it is most commonly seen as a mediator of relations between people. It may be made by a legislature through codified statutes, as in civil law jurisdictions, or it may be established through judges’ precedent, as in common law jurisdictions. It can also be derived from religious texts, as in Islamic Sharia law or the Talmud and Midrash.
Law is the basis of most societies, and it encompasses many different fields of study. Some are core subjects, such as contract law (dealing with agreements to exchange goods or services) and property law (defining ownership of tangible assets, such as land and buildings) and intangible assets, such as money and shares of stock. Other areas of law include criminal law, which deals with offenses against the state or community and provides penalties for violations. Law also includes administrative law, which covers such issues as taxation and government contracts.
Other laws are specific to a particular area of human activity, such as labour law (dealing with the tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union), aviation law (dealing with flight safety and regulations) or maritime law (dealing with shipping and fishing). The study of law can take a variety of forms, from the academic study of law and philosophy of law to the training of lawyers through legal education and practice.
One of the key concepts in law is that of the rule of law, which states that all members of a society are subject to the same laws and are able to appeal to a neutral judge if they think their rights are violated. This concept is often contrasted with a system that does not have the rule of law, such as an autocracy or dictatorship, where those in power are above the law and can disregard it without consequence.
The rule of law is a fundamental aspect of democratic governance, but it can be undermined if politicians do not follow the law themselves or if the justice system fails to provide adequate checks and balances. The deterioration of the rule of law can lead to corruption and civil unrest, as seen in the events of the Arab Spring. In addition, the rule of law is weakened when the legal system becomes partisan or politicized, as seen in the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Ultimately, the rule of law is dependent on good faith between all parties and open dialogue about societal problems. This dialogue is necessary for the proper functioning of democracy and the economy. It is essential to the future of civilization. Legal dictionaries define law as “a set of rules that regulates interactions between individuals and between communities and governments”. This is consistent with a scientific explanation for the existence of the laws of nature and the universe, such as gravity, or laws of society such as etiquette or decency.