What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules and procedures that govern the relationships between people, organizations and nations. It is a set of legal norms that define and control human behavior, which can be enforced by governments or individual judges.

There are several categories of laws, each covering a specific area of interest. For example, civil law deals with the rights of individuals to live and work in a country, whereas criminal law concerns the processes by which the state can punish someone for breaking the law.

Labour law refers to the rights of workers, such as a right to fair wages or health and safety at work. Similarly, family law covers the rights of children or adults to get married or divorced.

Evidence law involves the process of obtaining proof of an accusation or evidence that can be used to build a case. This can involve witnesses, written or oral testimony and evidence of financial transactions.

Almost all jurisdictions have some sort of legal code, although it can vary considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In general, codes regulate a variety of different issues, including the conduct of businesses, how much money should be paid to employees and what damages can be claimed in cases of breach.

Procedural law consists of the rules that guide courts as they try and hear cases. It can involve procedures such as notice of charges, trial by jury, confronting witnesses, hearings, appeal, and receiving reasons for official decisions.

Rights are often conceived as “outcomes” rather than “reasons”, which are themselves the basis of legal duties or positions (Raz 1986: 183). Yet, in certain circumstances, it may be necessary to counter-weight certain other reasons by qualitatively preempting them (Hart 1982: 86; Nozick 1974: 171-173).

The stringency of rights varies, and can be determined by various factors, including moral justification, background social and political values and commitments, expediency, and institutional considerations. The most stringent of rights are typically those that protect particularly significant interests or values, such as civil and human rights.

However, other kinds of rights, such as procedural and economic rights, are less stringent, or impose less of a burden on individuals to comply with the rules. Nonetheless, many of these rights are important for protecting people from harm.

Religious law is based on religious precepts, such as the Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia and Christianity’s canonical laws. These rely on the principles of Qiyas, Ijma and precedent, which are interpreted through jurisprudence.

Law also contains a variety of norms not specifically tied to a particular category, such as rules governing the provision of public services or utilities, such as water and energy. Regulation of these fields is generally done by government agencies.

The legal framework for establishing rights is divided into two basic mechanisms: acts of law and the recognition of other actions intended to bestow or detract from rights, such as consent, appointment, last will and testament, gift, and contracts. A second mechanism is judicial decisions that directly bestow (or detract from) rights.