Law is the set of rules imposed on a society by a controlling authority and enforced by its courts. Its principles are based on a combination of tradition and societal needs, influenced by culture and social change. It is a rich source of scholarly inquiry, including legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. It raises important ethical and practical questions about fairness, justice, equality, and public good.
The laws of a jurisdiction are the foundation for all human activities, regulating commerce, labour and property in all its forms. It is important that laws are clear, publicly disclosed and stable in a transparent manner, so that citizens have confidence in the integrity of the system. They should be readily accessible and applied evenly and fairly, ensuring that all citizens have human rights as well as property, contract and procedural rights.
The main subjects of law are contract (including commercial), criminal and civil law. Criminal law regulates conduct that threatens public safety, order or morality. Civil law deals with disputes between private parties and aims to ensure that people are treated equally before the courts. Its rules include the right to a trial by jury and the obligation to respect the independence of judges. Property law includes regulations governing the ownership of tangible property, including land and things attached to it (right in rem) as well as intangible assets, such as intellectual property rights and shares of stock. It is complemented by the rules of evidence and the procedures courts must follow for trials and appeals to be conducted properly.