Law is the set of rules that are imposed on people by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has long been a subject of debate and is generally defined as the science or art of justice.
Despite the variety of definitions, most societies develop laws that govern how people should behave and interact with others. These are often based on principles and values such as equality, fairness and justice.
Criminal law, also called penal law, deals with the punishment of a person who commits a crime or is suspected of doing so. It covers a range of crimes from stealing to murder and is enforced by the state.
Civil law, also known as common law, is a body of legal doctrines that have been accumulated from precedents that have been applied by courts. It consists of a system of concepts, categories and rules that are derived from Roman law with some influence of canon law.
There are many different systems of law, and the exact nature of each varies from country to country, though they all adhere to the four universal principles of law: clarity, publicisation, stability and application evenly.
The most widely used and well-known system is the English common law, which has been around since medieval times. It consists of an enormous tome of case law that has evolved over the centuries.
Some countries have their own system of law and others follow international agreements. For example, the United Nations has an International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Governmental laws are arranged by subjects in a government’s Code of Laws or by a series of regulations issued by executive departments and agencies. Federal laws are bills passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, while state or local laws are arranged by subject in a particular province’s or district’s statute book.
Commercial law, also known as corporate law, is a complex area of law dealing with the creation and management of companies. The law of contracts, agency, insurance, property, and the sale of goods has a rich history that goes back to the medieval Lex Mercatoria.
A Europe-wide Law Merchant was formed to standardise the practice of trade, and a number of continental codes have evolved over time. These have influenced modern commercial law, particularly in areas such as contract, property and sales law.
Regulation is the process of controlling the conduct of businesses and organisations in order to protect consumers, prevent fraud or abuse and improve services. It can include everything from regulations on unfair contractual terms and clauses to directives on airline baggage insurance.
Evidence law is the study of how a court must interpret facts and other materials in a case. It involves questions such as whether an object can be admitted into court, what kind of evidence is admissible, and the process of resolving conflicts between parties.
Law is a dynamic field that has the potential to shape economics, philosophy, culture and society in many ways. It also serves as a mediator of relations between people and as a source of scholarly inquiry.