What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules enforceable by social institutions. Its purpose is to shape society and protect rights and interests. This is done by protecting people against unjust power and violence. Several legal issues are common in contemporary society such as immigration, voting, healthcare, and tort law. These issues can arise from problems at work, family disputes, and sudden events. In addition, a number of subjects such as censorship and crime and punishment are also related to law.

The concept of “law” originates from ancient Greek philosophy. As the notion of justice evolved, the concept of “natural law” emerged. Through the writings of Thomas Aquinas, the concept re-entered mainstream culture.

Laws are usually enforced by government or independent regulating bodies. In some countries, a single legislator or executive may make laws. Common legal systems include civil law and common law. Civil law systems are characterized by less elaborate judicial decisions and shorter legal procedures.

In the United States, for instance, the laws that apply to businesses are called antitrust law. These are the laws that regulate businesses that distort market prices, and are considered a direct descendant of the Roman decrees against price fixing.

Another form of law is religious law. Religious law is based on religious precepts, such as Sharia, and is influenced by consensus. Examples of religious law include Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia.

Property law examines the rights of owners. This includes both personal and intellectual property. Often, the issues involve a tension between public and private rights. Various laws are involved, including mortgages, rental agreements, and covenants. Increasingly, property issues are being addressed in space law.

Law is also considered the art of justice. There are four universal principles that define the rule of law. They are that laws are binding and enforceable, are transparent and accessible, are enforceable evenly, and are applied impartially.

Accountability is also important. Modern policing and military power pose special concerns. For example, authoritarian governments oppress minorities and political opponents. Montesquieu could not have predicted the modern problems of accountability.

The International Court of Justice was founded in 1946, and it has issued over 170 judgments. It has also provided advisory opinions. Today, it is the primary dispute settlement organ of the United Nations. Members of the Commission are experts in their individual capacity, and they consult with UN specialized agencies.

The International Law Commission promotes the progressive development of international law. The Commission is composed of 34 members representing the world’s principal legal systems. It has prepared drafts on a wide variety of issues, and is a source of information on international law.

As a result, law is vital to many aspects of social life. It shapes politics, economics, and history. Moreover, it ensures procedural and contract rights, and ensures that human rights are not trampled on. Ultimately, law serves to keep a nation’s status quo.

Law can also be an effective tool in protecting minorities against majorities. For example, in the case of a revolution, law is a critical component of maintaining orderly social change.