What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules and policies that a government or society creates to regulate behavior and manage social relationships. These rules are enforced by police or courts to punish people who break the laws. Law can also refer to the study and practice of this system.

The precise definition of law is a matter of longstanding debate. The development of law has largely been driven by practical necessity, popular moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy (avowed or unconscious), even the prejudices shared by judges. The result is that, despite the best efforts of scholars and politicians, no law can be reduced to a set of logical principles.

There are four main purposes of law: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights. These are not necessarily the same in every country. For example, the way in which property is classified and prioritized in a civil law system differs from that of a common law system. Civil law uses a set of legal statutes to evaluate each case, while common law systems allow each judge to use his or her own sense of justice to determine what the facts mean in any particular case.

In addition, the fact that there are a variety of different legal systems in the world further complicates the understanding of what is ‘law’. Nevertheless, the key aspects of law are universal, whether one is talking about criminal or business law.