What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules that a government or a society enacts to govern its citizens. It serves as a means of preserving individual rights and maintaining the status quo. In order to achieve these purposes, a variety of legal systems are used throughout the world. Some legal systems serve these functions better than others.

In general, there are two types of law, statutory law and common law. Statutes are laws written by legislative bodies and signed by an executive. Common law jurisdictions, on the other hand, explicitly recognize decisions made by the courts as “law” and often treat these as a precedent.

A common legal system consists of three parts: legislation, court decisions and an interpretive model. Legislative statutes are enacted by legislatures, which are usually elected by the people of a state. Court decisions are interpreted by judges. These are typically less detailed than a statute. The court’s interpretation of the law is usually the foundation of a case.

Legal systems vary by nation, but many share some characteristics. In the United States, for example, the legal system is divided into federal and state jurisdictions. State-enforced laws are made by legislative bodies, which are generally politicians. They can be enacted by an individual legislator, a group of legislators, or an executive, through decrees.

There are also private law systems. These involve the creation of legally binding contracts between individuals. Private law systems are usually small and may involve one person, such as in a family court.

Another type of law is religious. These laws are explicitly based on religious precepts, as with Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia. While these systems may not be able to account for everything, they are often a good starting point for research on a particular issue.

Whether a legal system is able to fulfill these functions depends on the political power of the country. Authoritarian governments oppress political opponents and often restrict civil liberties. On the other hand, democratic and republican governments tend to respect the rights of minorities.

Legal issues can arise from a range of factors, including unexpected illness, a problem at work, or problems between members of a family. Depending on the jurisdiction, the legal issue may be a criminal or civil case. If it’s a civil case, it may require the help of a lawyer.

One of the earliest known uses of the word law was by John Austin, who defined it as a system of commands by the sovereign. In the modern era, the concept of natural law emerged in connection with a notion of justice.

However, Locke and Montesquieu could not foresee the modern challenges of accountability. Today, military and policing powers pose special challenges for the legal system. As such, judicial systems must use the right mechanisms to ensure that their rulings are believable.

A good starting point for researching the legal system of your home nation is a reputable website from your local government. You can search for consumer protection, immigration, and other legal issues.