Law is a system of rules that societies or governments develop to regulate their behaviour and deal with issues such as crime and business agreements. In some contexts it can also be used to refer to the people who work in this field.
While the precise definition of Law is a matter of debate, most scholars agree that it includes an idea of justice or fairness as well as the concept of morality. It is based on the principle that human beings are equal and that society must be run by fair and transparent means.
The law shapes politics, economics and history in many ways, and it serves as a mediator of relations between different groups. There are two main types of law: civil and common. Civil law is a set of rules created by legislative bodies, while common law is based on judge-made precedents. Religions have also developed their own laws, which often play a major role in the cultures of some nations.
There are many different kinds of law, and they cover virtually every aspect of life. They include labour law, which covers the tripartite relationship between employer, worker and trade union; family law, which deals with marriage and divorce proceedings and rights of children; property law, which defines people’s rights to tangible possessions (real or’real estate’), as well as intangible ones such as shares in a company; intellectual property law, which protects creative work; and criminal law, which sets out punishments for certain crimes.
Although laws can be made by legislatures, they are generally enforced by police and other agencies which have been trained to apply them. This training involves a combination of education, practical experience and the acquisition of a legal vocabulary. A knowledge of the legal system allows people to interact with the legal system in a more informed way and prevents them from falling foul of the law by making mistakes or unwittingly breaking the law.
The aim of law is to ensure a safe and peaceful society, but it does not stop conflicts from arising. Inevitably, sometimes people have the same ideas about what is right and wrong, and they therefore disagree with each other. The law provides a way for people to resolve these disagreements fairly and without violence by referring them to the courts.
The law governs the actions of government and private individuals, but it is difficult to make sure that they are following the law at all times. The principle of the rule of law states that both the government and the citizens must be accountable to laws which are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, independently adjudicated, and consistent with international human rights norms and standards. The rule of law is a fundamental element of the United Nations system, and it is an essential part of all democratic societies. It requires measures to be put in place to ensure adherence to these four universal principles: accountability, just law, open government and accessible justice.