Law is the system of rules governing the behaviour of people and the way in which they interact with each other. It has many other purposes: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. It also provides the basis for a variety of professions such as solicitors and judges.
The precise nature of law is the subject of long-running debate. It has been variously described as both a social science and an art of justice. It is the source of many scholarly endeavours such as legal history, philosophy and economic analysis.
A law is a set of rules created and enforced by governmental or social institutions. It can be based on custom, tradition, the will of a deity or the decisions of a court of justice. Law can be applied at the local, national or international level.
There are two main types of law: civil and criminal. Civil law encompasses disputes between individuals and includes family, property and contract law. It is contrasted with criminal law, which deals with the rights and wrongs of individual citizens and may result in imprisonment.
A lawyer is someone who advises clients about the law and represents them in legal proceedings. The legal profession is the largest of all the professions and has a worldwide presence. It is a highly lucrative career, and lawyers are in high demand.
The study of law is a major part of humanities, social sciences and business studies at university level. It provides a rich source of material for academic enquiry into history, philosophy and political science. The law has a practical influence as well, helping to ensure that societies are safe, peaceful and prosperous.
Laws are grouped according to their area of application, with each area being subdivided into more specific categories. For example, tort law covers compensation for damage caused by an automobile accident or a breach of privacy. The law of contracts includes the principles governing the formation of agreements and the interpretation of contracts, as well as the enforcement of contracts. It has a wide range of applications in commerce and industry.
Competition law is an increasingly important field, extending back as far as Roman decrees against price fixing and English restraint of trade laws. It is used to regulate businesses that seek to maximise their profits at the expense of consumer welfare.
The rule of law is a principle that all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated. It requires adherence to internationally agreed standards and norms of governance, including the supremacy of law, equality before the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, and legal certainty. It also requires the establishment of mechanisms to provide access to effective remedies and impartial justice. An article is a section or paragraph of a law, statute, code or other legal document. It may set out particular obligations, duties, expectations or measures of damages arising from a breach of the law.