What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate.

Some scholars describe the function of law as establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights. Others focus on the functions of law in a society: keeping the peace, providing economic stability, protecting minorities against majorities, and facilitating orderly social change. Still other scholars emphasize the importance of justice and the rule of law, in which all individuals are equal before the law, and laws are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated.

There are several categories of law: criminal, civil, and administrative. Criminal law deals with offenses against the state, such as murder and robbery. Civil law is the area of law that relates to conflicts between private individuals, such as those that can be resolved through lawsuits. The law of torts deals with damages when an individual or their property is harmed, for example in car accidents and defamation of character. Property law defines people’s right and duties towards tangible property, such as land or buildings.

Whether law is seen as an instrument of justice or simply as a means of managing society, there is no doubt that it affects everyone in some way. It is therefore important for all citizens to understand the principles that govern law. If they do not, they may be deprived of their rights and freedoms.