What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules that govern human behaviour. These rules are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions.

Law can be made by legislatures through statutes, executive decrees or regulations, or established by courts through precedent. The defining characteristic of the law is that it defines certain rules that must be followed, although it may not specify how they should be applied or why they should be applied.

The term is derived from the Latin verb legis (meaning law), which means to command or impose. Legal systems serve different purposes:

To keep the peace; to maintain the status quo; to preserve individual rights; to protect minorities against majorities; to promote social justice; and to provide for orderly social change.

Some legal systems are better suited to these tasks than others.

These include the civil law tradition that emerged in Continental Europe and is now spread across the world, with most countries having civil codes.

Other common types of laws are criminal law, family law and intellectual property law.

The legal system of a nation is the framework that governs the social and economic life of its citizens. It includes a national legal system, which defines the rules that must be followed by citizens; an administrative law system, which sets procedures and standards for government departments and other organizations; and a private legal system, which provides for contracts, property, and personal relationships.

In modern practice, lawyers are distinguished from other professionals by their special qualifications and by the way they are regulated. They gain this professional identity through legal processes, such as passing a qualifying exam and being admitted to the bar.

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