Law is a system of rules that governs the way people live. It can also be the word used to describe the people who work in this system, such as lawyers and judges.
The Purpose of Law
Law has different functions, depending on the society in which it is set up. In a free and democratic country, law serves to protect rights and ensure justice; in an authoritarian or illiberal society, it is used as a means to control citizens and enact social policies.
The Definition of Law
There are many definitions of law, but the most common one is ‘the body of rules recognized and applied by a government in the administration of Justice’. This is a fairly broad definition and does not include aspects of civil, criminal or international law.
Several other more narrow definitions of law exist, such as ‘the body of written laws regulating human affairs in a particular jurisdiction’ or ‘the official content of the judicial decisions of a nation’s highest courts’. In each of these cases, ‘the body of law’ refers to a set of principles and regulations that are recognised as authoritative by the state and are generally embodied in laws or statutes.
The Function of Law
According to the modern view, the main function of law is to secure social justice for the population. This includes the distribution of goods, privileges and burdens within a society.
Another function of law is to prevent crime. For example, criminal law regulates who can be prosecuted for crimes such as murder and other serious crimes.
The Defining of the Word ‘Law’
The word “law” comes from Latin and has been used for centuries to denote a legal code or system that governs the behavior of people. It is a system of rules that regulates the way people act in a society and can include everything from criminal law to business transactions and social relationships.
In the context of modern life, law covers a wide range of subjects and has many branches. Some of the most popular areas are:
Public Law – The main branch of public law is legislation and its codification into law by legislatures, parliaments or other political authorities. It involves the creation of statutes that have binding effects and are often enforceable by government agencies.
Private Law – The second main branch of public law is private law, which is the study of how private actors and individuals should be regulated. It involves contract, family, property and personal liberty issues.
Civil Law – The third main branch of public law is civil law, which refers to the legal systems in most countries around the world. It is based on concepts, categories and rules derived from Roman law with some influence from canon law, sometimes supplemented by local custom or culture.
It is a complex and dynamic concept that changes with time and place. Despite the complexities, it remains a basic and essential part of human life, which can be understood as ‘the social order that establishes norms and guides behavior’ (Morelin, 2003). It is a system of rights that are regulated by a political authority called a state.