What is the Law?


The Law is the set of rules that a society or a country adheres to in order to regulate behaviour. It serves a number of functions, such as establishing standards and maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. It may be imposed by social or government institutions, in the form of a constitution or statutes passed by legislatures or decreed by executive authority, or it may be created through judge-made precedent as in common law jurisdictions. It may also be based on religious precepts, as in Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia, or it can reflect the accumulated wisdom of human society such as qiyas (reasoning by analogy), ijma and consensus.

A wide variety of laws exist, and they cover almost every aspect of human life. For example, contract law covers the enforceable terms of agreements; criminal law addresses punishment for crimes and their offences, and tort law deals with a person’s right to redress for injury caused by someone else’s actions or inactions. Other types of law include aviation law, bankruptcy law, maritime law and property law (which divides into real property,’real estate’, and personal property,’movables’).

Laws are created through a system of courts where a judge, barrister or solicitor (who is often called Esquire to indicate a level of prestige) decides on the case by considering the evidence put forward. These decisions are then used as legal precedents in subsequent cases, which can be referred to in court.