What Is Law?

Law is a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate, and it has been described as a science and as the art of justice. Law can be applied to a broad range of topics, such as air law; bankruptcy; business law; contract law; criminal law; family law; and international law. It can also refer to a particular legal system, such as canon law; common law; civil law; or Shari’ah. It can also refer to specific types of activity, such as censorship; crime and punishment; and war.

One of the most important aspects of law is that it can be interpreted in many different ways. It can be viewed as a set of rules that must be obeyed, or it can be seen as something that gives people the freedom to choose their own lives, so long as they do not harm others. For instance, if you were to break your parents’ house rules, you would not be punished for it, but if you were to steal from them or embezzle money, you would likely be prosecuted and fined.

Different philosophical schools of thought have developed a variety of theories regarding the nature of law. For example, Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarian theory asserted that law is “commands, backed by threat of sanctions, from a sovereign to men as political subjects.” Natural lawyers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, believe that natural laws are immutable and unchanging.

A key element of a law is that it must be clear and publicized. It must also be stable and consistent, and it should apply equally to people of all social classes. It must also protect human rights and procedural rights, and ensure that the transition of power is subject to checks.

There are many different forms of law, from the most ancient to the most modern. Some of them have a strong link to religion, such as Islamic law, which is based on the Qur’an and Sunnah. Other types of law include administrative law, commercial law, and constitutional law. The study of law can be a rewarding career. Lawyers must pass an examination, receive a legal education (which often culminates in a Bachelor of Laws or a Bachelor of Civil Law), and gain experience before they can be licensed to practice law.

For more information about the different types of law, see the articles on agency; air law; bankruptcy; carriage of goods; commercial transaction; law of the sea; common law; civil law; and international law. Articles on specific fields of law are also available, such as medical jurisprudence; labour law; inheritance; and property law. For articles on the relationship between law and political structures, see constitution; ideology; party; and political system. For other articles on the history of law, see legal history; and constitutional law. For a list of notable legal scholars, see List of jurists. For an exposition of legal training and background, see Legal profession.