The law is a body of rules and principles that is enforced by a sovereign authority. It shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. There are different types of laws, such as contracts, property, family and criminal law. Law informs people’s everyday lives in a variety of ways, from regulating the exchange of goods and services to dictating how much tax should be paid.
The four purposes of law are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. For example, if two people have competing claims to property, the law can decide who owns it. It also ensures that public officials carry out their duties in a fair and reasonable manner.
Law has an important place in the humanities, and it is a central subject of scholarly study. It is a field that includes legal history, philosophy, sociology and economic analysis. Law also raises fundamental questions of political and social significance, such as fairness, justice and privacy.
The legal system consists of a network of courts, institutions and professionals. Lawyers are trained to interpret and apply the law, while judges and prosecutors have the authority to make decisions in cases brought before the courts. The law provides a framework for resolving conflicts and promoting order, but it is not infallible. For instance, scientific laws such as the law of gravity can be changed through further research. Other laws, such as those governing space exploration and financial regulation, can evolve over time.