What Is Law?

Law is a system of rules created by the state which forms a framework to ensure a peaceful society. These rules are enforced by mechanisms created by the state and sanctions can be imposed when they are broken. The law shapes politics, economics, history and culture in many ways and governs human interactions. Those who study the law are called lawyers or jurists.

There are two kinds of law: public and private. Public law, also known as criminal law, deals with crimes and violations of public order. The law determines how these violations are to be punished and what compensation is due victims. Private law, on the other hand, settles disputes between people. For example, if you back your car into somebody’s fence, that would violate private law and the person could sue you for damages.

The earliest legal systems were based on religious precepts. For example, Jewish halakha and Islamic Sharia remain as legal guides for many religious communities. These precepts are interpreted and elaborated on through Qiyas (reasoning by analogy), Ijma (consensus) and precedent to make them useful as guides for judges and governments. However, the majority of legal systems in the world are derived from legislative statutes and executive regulations.

While laws vary from country to country, they all have the same basic functions. They create a common language, protect the rights and safety of citizens, regulate industries, provide utilities and social services, and serve as a mediator between those who have differing interests. In addition, laws define the political landscape and establish which groups have the right to make and enforce the law.

Law can be a complex subject and there are many different views about what it is and how it should work. While the definition of law varies, the general idea is that it is a set of rules created by a controlling authority and enforced by mechanisms provided by that controlling body. In this way, the law defines a society and imposes its values upon it.

There are a wide variety of subfields within the law, covering all aspects of the human experience from a legal perspective. Some examples are criminal law, which defines crime and sets punishments, family law, which covers marriage and divorce proceedings, and administrative law, which lays down the procedures to be followed by government departments and agencies. The practice of law is regulated by both government and independent governing bodies and requires the completion of a legal education. Lawyers must achieve distinct professional identity by following specified legal procedures and possess a particular academic qualification, such as a Bachelor of Laws or a Juris Doctor degree. In some countries, a Master of Laws or a Master of Legal Studies may also be required in order to practise as a lawyer. In most countries, lawyers are also required to have completed a professional training course. This is known as becoming a member of the bar. It is illegal in many countries to operate without being a member of the bar.