Law is a set of rules created by society to maintain order and protect people from harm. They are enforced by the police, courts and prison systems. They can include a range of things such as the law on smoking, drinking or wearing a seat belt.
Legal definitions vary from country to country and in different fields. For example, there is a wide range of legal definitions in the field of taxation which have been formulated to ensure that the taxpayers of each country pay their fair share of taxes.
In contrast, the term tort law refers to a body of laws which concern the rights and wrongs of individuals, in particular their personal property. Typically these laws are made and enforced by state institutions in the form of statutes, decrees and regulations. In private law, individuals may also enact legally binding contracts such as arbitration agreements to settle disputes outside of the standard court process.
The law is a complex system of laws and norms that govern the actions of individuals and organizations. It is a discipline that shapes politics, economics and history in various ways.
There are many distinct branches of the field of law, each dealing with a particular area of the law and often involving an interaction between legal theory and the social sciences. These fields include agency; air law; bankruptcy; carriage of goods; commercial transaction; contract; constitutional law; criminal law; family law; inheritance; labour law; maritime law; medical jurisprudence; procedural law; property law; and tax law.
Religious law is another branch of the field of law and reflects the beliefs and practices of various religions. This is often based on religious precepts and scripture. In some cases, these principles are derived directly from the religion itself (as in Islamic Sharia), while others are developed by human means through interpretation and elaboration (as in Jewish Halakha and Christian canon law).
These legal systems typically require extensive judicial elaboration of these religious or philosophical principles to arrive at a final system of law. These judicial decisions are known as precedent and are usually accepted in common law legal systems on an equal footing with statutes adopted through the legislative process.
Some countries have constitutions, written or tacit, which encode the rights of citizens in a manner that is understood by all, and which must be adhered to by all governments. In America, for instance, the United States Constitution provides a framework for law and establishes basic legal principles that must be followed by the federal government.
The law has been described as “the art of justice” and is often seen as the basis of a society’s moral values. It is the basis for a nation’s political and cultural stability, as well as its economic growth and development.
The law has a major role in maintaining social justice, protecting rights and ensuring that all members of the community are treated equally. In addition, the law ensures that all people have access to justice and are protected from discrimination and violence. Its four universal principles are: equality before the law; equal protection of the laws; non-discrimination; and due process.