What Is Law?

Law

Law is the system of rules that a society or government develops to deal with things like crime, business agreements and social relationships. It serves four main goals: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. Laws are usually created through a process of human elaboration. The earliest legal systems were based on religious precepts, such as the Jewish Halakhah and Islamic Shari’ah, or the Christian canon law, but these have been supplemented with further law through interpretation, including Qiyas (reasoning by analogy), Ijma (consensus) and precedent.

The laws that govern societies vary enormously, and a large part of the law is defined by the specifics of a particular country or area. For example, contract law deals with agreements to exchange goods or services, while property law covers people’s ownership of tangible objects, such as land and buildings, and their movable items, such as cars and jewellery. It also includes intangible property, such as intellectual property and shares of stock. Laws that prevent businesses from taking advantage of consumers fall under competition law.

Many other types of law exist, dealing with issues such as immigration and nationality law, which concerns the right to live or work in a foreign country and to acquire or lose citizenship; family law; and criminal law, which deals with conduct that harms society or individual people and may lead to imprisonment. Law is an important source of scholarly study, in fields such as legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology.

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