What is Law?


Law is a system of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate human behaviour. Its precise definition is the subject of long-standing debate and encompasses a broad spectrum of subjects that span virtually all aspects of society. These subjects are grouped into three categories for convenience, though they frequently intertwine and overlap:

Criminal law relates to conduct that threatens social order and is punishable by imprisonment or fines. Civil law, including torts, contracts and property law, involves the rights of individuals in their dealings with each other. Labour and employment law includes the tripartite industrial relationship of employer, worker and trade unions and involves workplace rights such as health and safety and minimum wage. Administrative law concerns the ways in which governmental agencies operate and the procedures that apply to them. Jurisprudence is the body of legal decisions and the principles that govern how other laws should be applied to specific cases, involving such methods as analogy, Qiyas and Ijma.

Legislation begins with an idea – the ‘bill’ – submitted by a representative to their House of Commons, which if released is then debated and voted on. If passed, it moves to the Senate where it undergoes similar scrutiny and is then sent to a conference committee made up of representatives from both houses that works out any differences between the House and Senate versions. Once agreed, the bill becomes a law. Legal ethics, public interest and commercial considerations also play a role in the making of laws.

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