Law refers to a set of rules enforceable by social institutions, such as courts and government. These laws are designed to protect individuals from discrimination and oppression, as well as maintain order and stability in society. This system also influences the creation of rights and social justice.
Law is often described as an art. Historically, the term has been used to describe the moral rules that govern human interactions. The definition of law varies from country to country, but in general it is considered a rule governed by a sovereign or a group of rulers. Various philosophers and scientists have proposed varying theories about law.
Some argue that law is a form of science, like mathematics. Others believe it is a product of religion. And still others argue it is a form of social and political practice. It is sometimes said that there are three types of law: religious, natural, and civil.
Religious law, which is generally based on religious precepts, is explicitly incorporated in the law. Examples of religious law include Islamic Sharia, Jewish Halakha, and Christian canon law. But there are other types of religions that are not legally enforceable, such as Hinduism.
Civil law is a legal system that does not have as much detail as religious law, but includes judicial decisions and legislative statutes. The doctrine of precedent is a basic tenet of civil law, stating that the decision of a higher court binds lower courts to the decision.
Commercial law is a field of law dealing with property law. This law covers a wide variety of issues including personal and real property, business agreements, and contracts. Property law is divided into real estate, which is the land or buildings we live in, and personal property, which is the intangible rights we have. Other types of commercial law include banking law, which imposes minimum capital standards on banks, and energy law, which regulates gas and power production.
Generally, the practice of law is overseen by a government agency or an independent regulating body. However, private individuals may create legally binding contracts. They can enter into an arbitration agreement or file a lawsuit, for example.
A common legal issue is debt. There are also common legal issues concerning immigration, housing, consumer rights, and family issues. Consumer law, for example, involves regulations on unfair contractual terms, airline baggage insurance, and taxation.
In the United States, laws are compiled into the United States Code. In this code, individual acts are grouped into 50 titles. As laws are enacted, they are edited and cross-referenced to the U.S. Code. This process is called capturing the legal test.
The United States Code is a compilation of most public laws in force. It is organized by subject matter, and includes original laws as well as subsequent amendments. During the turn of the twentieth century, the anti-cartel statutes of the US were a source of modern competition law.
Another major topic in politics is the rise of revolts against political-legal authority. These are usually focused on minorities, particularly women and people of color, and may involve the oppression of political opponents.