What is Law?

Law is a system of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour and ensure justice. It covers a huge range of subjects: criminal law deals with offences against public order, while civil law involves the resolution of lawsuits (disputes) between individuals or organizations. Law is also the subject of scholarly inquiry and discussion, as it raises fundamental questions about justice, equality and fairness.

There are many different legal systems in the world: some countries, such as the United States, have a common law system, which means that laws are based on judicial decisions rather than being written out in statutes. Other countries have a civil law system, which uses written codes to decide cases. Some countries, such as Japan, have a mixed law system that includes both civil and common law elements.

Law is an extremely wide-ranging field, with many sub-topics and specialisations. Some of the main areas are contract law, which deals with agreements to exchange goods and services; property law, which defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible possessions (such as houses or cars) and intangible assets such as bank accounts or shares; and labour law, which encompasses the tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union. Other subjects include evidence law, which determines what materials are admissible in court for a case to be built; and court procedure, which sets out the rules that courts must follow to conduct trials and hearings.