What is Law?


Law is a set of rules that are made and enforced by people who have the power to do so. It shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. It is important that it works well and is seen to be fair. Different people have many different ideas about what laws are and about how they should be created and enforced. They also differ in their opinions about whether or not the law should be written down, or if it should be based on judges’ decisions in specific cases.

Laws can be created by a group legislature, resulting in statutes; by the executive through decrees and regulations; or by individual judges, resulting in court precedent. The latter system is particularly common in countries that follow the English legal tradition of common law, but there are other systems of law that use a combination of statutes and caselaw.

Some of the main areas of law are criminal, family, property and business law. Other areas include agrarian law (land ownership), administrative law and trusts. Intellectual property law covers the rights that people have over things they create, such as art, music and literature. These are protected by copyright, patent and trademark law. Tort law helps people make claims for compensation when they have been injured or their property damaged, for example by car accidents and other misfortunes. Medical jurisprudence and privacy laws such as physician-patient privilege are also part of the law.