Law is the study of rules and procedures that regulate and govern the conduct of a community, a country, or a person. It serves as a means for social justice, orderly change, and protection of individual rights. In modern society, law has expanded to encompass a wide range of fields.
The term law is often used to refer to the entire body of laws of a nation. This includes both state-enforced laws and private-sector contracts. Some legal systems are better at fulfilling these purposes than others. However, the basic concept of law remains the same, regardless of the particulars of the systems.
Law is generally divided into three categories. First is civil law, which is concerned with judicial decisions. Second is religious law, which is based on a specific religious precept. Third is canon law, which is a religious law that is still enforceable in some communities.
Law has also been described as the “art of justice.” These terms are often referred to as the “rules of the game.” Often, these are regulated industries, such as water and gas. Other areas of life that are governed by law include marriage and divorce, business, and personal relationships.
While some people argue that only governmental rules are legal, others say that religion and moral philosophy are also part of the law. For example, Islam is a religious system, and Muslims are subject to its rules. According to naturalists, human reason and conscience are also part of the law.
Legal issues may arise when there is a sudden event, such as an unexpected illness. They can also arise from problems at work, such as a broken contract, or a family situation. Sometimes, a legal issue might not be obvious, and it may require the assistance of a lawyer.
In general, however, law is a set of rules and regulations that are enforceable by social institutions. Usually, these laws are established by governments or groups of government officials. People who break these laws face fines and jail time.
Those who believe that law is merely a tool for promoting social justice are called positivists. Alternatively, those who believe that there is a high degree of morality in law are called naturalists. Despite these differences, many people agree that law helps preserve the status quo, provide orderly social change, and ensure procedural rights for individuals.
Whether a country’s laws are made by the government or the private sector, the people are ultimately responsible for following them. If a country fails to follow its laws, it will be liable to lawsuits and other legal proceedings.
Often, laws are created by the executive branch of a country, through decrees and legislation. Some common law jurisdictions also allow the court to make state-enforced laws, such as in the United States.
In the United States, there are four major legal systems. The Oxford Reference offers authoritative information on all of them. Specifically, it provides definitions and background information on major legal processes and concepts, including consumer rights, banking, tax, immigration, and civil procedure.