What Is Law?

Law is the set of rules and regulations that a society (or a group of societies) uses to regulate its behavior. The precise definition of law is a matter of debate, but most people agree that it is a system of rules that society (or a group of societies) adheres to.

The term ‘law’ can also refer to the laws of particular jurisdictions, and in many cases this includes both civil and criminal law. Some of these laws are made by a legislature, resulting in statutes, while others are established by judges through precedent.

Civil law is a common legal system that governs individuals and their relationships with one another. It is based on a logical and dynamic taxonomy that favors cooperation, order and predictability. This consists of codes and principles that are usually arranged in such a way that they can be easily understood by citizens and jurists alike.

There are three branches of civil law: property, contract and tort. The former deals with rights and duties towards tangible property, such as land and personal possessions. The latter includes everything else, such as movable objects and intangible property such as intellectual property or shares in a company.

Defamation, fraud and other types of malicious damage are the subjects of tort law. These include claims for compensation when someone is harmed or their property damaged, such as by automobile accidents or defamation of character.

Commercial law is a branch of civil law that deals with transactions between businesses. It can involve anything from a sale of goods, a lease of space or a rental agreement. It is a complex area that covers contracts, sales of goods and services, intellectual property, and companies.

Consumer law, likewise a part of commercial law, deals with the rights and responsibilities of people buying or using products or services. It is a broad field, including regulations on unfair contractual terms and clauses, directives on airline baggage insurance, and legislation aimed at protecting consumers from businesses that manipulate market prices to drive profits above their fair value.

In modern civil law systems, codification has been widely adopted to formalise laws and their development. The most influential examples are the French Code civil and the German BGB.

The law can be a source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. It also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness and justice.

It can also be a source of professional identity. Lawyers are constituted in office through legal forms of appointment (being admitted to the bar).

Some lawyers specialize in particular areas, such as tax law or family law. They may be employed by government, business or voluntary organisations.

Most countries have a legal system that incorporates both civil and criminal law. This is often referred to as a ‘comprehensive law system’. In civil law, the sources recognised as authoritative are primarily legislation–especially codifications in constitutions or statutes passed by government–and custom.