What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It is based on the concept that all people are created equal and have fundamental rights, including life, liberty and property. It also provides a framework to ensure that people live peacefully together. There are four principal functions of law: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights.

A law may be a written document or an unwritten tradition or custom. The word is derived from the Latin “lex”, meaning “a rule” or “an order.” Laws establish standards of conduct and are enforced through mechanisms such as courts and police. They are generally based on the principle that those who break the rules must suffer consequences.

Different societies have different laws, with some having no law at all and others relying heavily on traditional or religious values. Laws based on religious precepts include the Jewish Halakha, Islamic Sharia, and Christian canon law. Other laws are based on scientific principles, such as the law of gravity, which can be proven with experimentation or observed in nature.

The legal system differs from country to country, but in general a nation’s laws are based on its culture and political structures. Its laws are often influenced by economic analysis and social justice issues. Laws must be enforceable and understandable, and they must provide equal opportunities for people of all backgrounds and social classes.

Many countries have a common law system, in which judges decide cases based on previous rulings. Other nations, such as Japan, have civil law systems, in which statutes set out the rules and judges use those to guide their decisions. Both systems can be effective in resolving conflicts and ensuring that everyone is treated fairly.

A key part of the judicial process is obtaining evidence in a case before a trial, which is done by examining witnesses and reviewing documents. This evidence is often compiled into a report, or “docket.” The docket contains brief entries of court proceedings. A judge may review the docket before a hearing or trial to determine what evidence is available to each party.

Other parts of the judicial system include the prosecutor, public defender and defense attorney. A prosecutor tries criminal cases on behalf of the government, while a public defender represents defendants who cannot afford their own attorneys in a trial. A defense attorney can also file a motion informing the judge of any facts or legal theories that could be used to defend the client. A judge can then decide whether to allow the motion. A lawyer is known as an Esquire if they are a barrister or as a Doctor of Law if they have a PhD in law. The scholastic study of law includes the disciplines of legal history, philosophy, sociology and economic analysis. The complexities of the law make it an important subject for discussion and debate.