Law is a set of rules that form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. It outlines people’s rights and obligations, defines property boundaries, sets punishments and helps to resolve conflicts. In most countries, laws are created and enforced by a government. It is not easy to give a definition of law, as different people have many different ideas about it. Some say that law is a system of rules made by a government or an organization and enforced by a group of officials called judges. Others say that law is the discipline and profession of studying and applying these rules. Finally, some think that law is the body of rules enacted by a supreme authority.
The most widely accepted idea of law is that it is the system of rules that governs a country or region, whether written or unwritten. A country’s constitution, for example, is a type of law that establishes general principles. In addition, most countries have a body of law that sets out the details for specific types of situations, such as contract, land or criminal law.
A country’s laws are created by groups of politicians in a legislative body, such as parliament or congress, who have been elected (chosen) by the people to represent them. This is how most democracies work. Many countries also have a judiciary, or group of judges, who are responsible for resolving disputes and finding out if people charged with crimes are guilty. In most countries, courts have the power to remove laws that are considered unconstitutional (go against a constitutional principle).
The rules of the law are called statutes or codes. They may be written or unwritten and can cover a range of topics. Contract law, for example, regulates agreements between people and covers everything from buying a bus ticket to trading shares on a stock exchange. Property law determines people’s rights and duties toward their tangible (real, such as land or buildings) property and their personal property (movable, such as cars or computers).
Another area of law is regulations, which determines how private companies run public services like electricity, water and transport. Banking regulation and financial regulation set minimum standards for banks, and rules about best practice in investment. These and other forms of legal policy shape everyday life, but they are not reflected in the statutory or common law systems of most jurisdictions. The precise meanings of these laws can be difficult to understand, as most court decisions are not binding in other courts (although they can act as persuasive authority). The interplay between common law, constitutional and statutory law makes the study of the law highly complicated.