What Is Law?

Law is a system of rules and customs enforced by an authority to regulate a society and ensure it adheres to a set of values. These values can be social, cultural or religious. Ideally, laws respect the rights of individuals and ensure a safe and orderly community. They can also promote economic justice and provide for orderly social change.

Almost every country has its own legal system, which may vary from place to place and even within a single jurisdiction. However, all legal systems have some similarities based on historically accepted principles of justice. These include common law, civil law, and Islamic law. Some countries employ multiple systems at the same time to create a hybrid approach.

The field of law encompasses a huge range of subjects, from space law to criminal procedure. Contract law relates to agreements between private parties and can include anything from buying a bus ticket to trading options on a derivatives market. Property law relates to people’s rights and duties toward tangible property, such as their houses or cars, as well as intangible assets like bank accounts and shares of stock.

Labor law covers the tripartite industrial relationship between employer, worker and trade union, and involves issues such as wage disputes and the right to strike. Tort law concerns compensation for damages incurred by injury or defamation, while crimes against a person are prosecuted under criminal law. Legal systems often have specialized courts for handling particular cases, such as terrorism offences, which are heard by a special tribunal or by judges who hear all other terrorism cases.

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