What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules established by a particular government and that citizens must follow, or risk punishment. These rules, often called statutes, are based on a set of values and principles that a country or community believes are important to its well-being. Law is also a term that can be used more broadly to refer to any system of rules that a society or group establishes and that must be followed by its members. These laws can be written or unwritten, such as a constitution or a series of customs.

Different people have varying definitions of law, which makes it a complex field to study. However, a common theme that runs throughout many definitions is the idea that a law imposes a certain set of standards or guidelines upon its members. This helps to control the behavior of individuals within a community, avoids any conflict of interests and resolves any disputes that may arise.

Most societies have some kind of legal system, and this is a vital part of any democracy. Without a well-functioning legal system, there is no way to prevent violence or fraud between citizens, or ensure that those who are harmed receive compensation for their injuries. Law also provides a framework for settling disputes between members of a community, or between a citizen and his or her employer.

Some philosophers have argued that laws must reflect a certain level of morality. For example, the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham states that laws are commands backed by the threat of sanctions from a sovereign to whom people have a habit of obedience. Others, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, argue that natural law reflects a pre-existing set of moral principles that govern human behavior.

The main areas of law include labour, tort, civil rights and criminal justice. Labour law concerns the tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union and involves regulation of wages, health and safety and the right to strike. Tort law covers injury to a person or property, such as damage caused by an accident or defamation of character. Civil rights involve a person’s right to a fair trial and the right not to be discriminated against or harassed by other citizens. Criminal justice encompasses police procedures, trial procedure and the admissibility of evidence in court.

Students studying law often publish articles in law journals, which are usually associated with universities. Most North American law schools have flagship journals, such as the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, as well as secondary journals that focus on specific topics, such as terrorism, international law or gun control. Articles in these journals are generally peer-reviewed, and membership and editorial positions are competitive and prestigious. In addition to scholarly law journals, there are a number of online law publications. These sites provide a variety of articles and blogs about various aspects of the law. For example, they can cover the latest developments in law or provide advice for those who are seeking a career in the legal industry.