What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules created by the state which form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. When these laws are broken, sanctions can be imposed. People have different opinions about what the exact definition of law is. Many books have been written about the topic, with numerous ideas and definitions presented.

The precise meaning of law is a matter of debate, but most people agree that it is something that regulates human behaviour. It can be enforced by mechanisms like police and courts, and it may contain rewards or punishments. Law can also cover specific areas of life, such as property, family and criminal justice.

Some legal systems are more authoritarian than others, but most laws exist to serve certain purposes. These include keeping the peace, maintaining the status quo, protecting minorities against majorities and promoting social change. Many people argue that the purpose of law is to protect and benefit individual citizens, and that the best way to achieve this is through a democratic government.

The principles of law are usually based on cultural and religious precepts, with religion often being a key source. This can be explicit, as with Jewish Halakha or Islamic Sharia, or implicit through the use of qiyas (interpretation by analogy), Ijma (consensus) and precedent. Other sources are derived from literature and the natural world, and have been elaborated by philosophers such as Bentham and Rousseau.

There are many types of law, and it is important to understand which ones apply to your situation. Common examples include property law, which covers ownership of land and possessions; criminal law, which deals with crimes against people; civil law, which concerns contracts and disputes; and labour law, which covers the tripartite industrial relationship between employer, worker and trade union. Other areas of law include immigration and nationality law, which concern the right to live in a country; trust law, which involves how money is invested; and biolaw, which intersects law with the biological sciences.

A lawyer is a professional who studies and advises on the law. In the United States, lawyers are called attorneys or solicitors, and in the UK they are known as barristers. Other professionals who study the law are called jurists and judges. In some countries, it is possible to become a judge by studying at university and passing an examination. In other countries, judges are elected by their peers. Judging is a highly prestigious job that requires great skill and integrity. Judges make decisions about what law applies to a particular case and what the penalty should be if someone breaks it. They are also responsible for interpreting the law and ensuring that it is applied consistently. They are a vital part of our society, and they need to be treated with respect. Judges are not to be blamed if they get it wrong, but they must try their hardest to be fair. They must never lose sight of the principle that they are serving the public, not themselves.