What Is Law?


A law is a body of rules that governs the conduct of individuals or a society. It can be state-enforced by a legislative authority, resulting in statutes and regulations, or it may be created through court precedent (typically in common law jurisdictions). Private individuals can also create legally binding contracts and other arrangements that are enforced by a court of law.

Law is a major source of scholarly inquiry in areas such as legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. It also raises profound issues of justice, equality and fairness.

Some laws are universal, as in the law of gravity (Fg): If two objects are a certain distance apart, they will fall to the ground. However, many laws are not so clear-cut and can be changed by scientific research in the future.

Law covers all aspects of human society, from relationships among families to the interactions between large societies and governments. For example, criminal law deals with activities that threaten the peace or public order and impose punishments. Civil law deals with disputes between people or organizations, and can result in litigation and court decisions.

A central theme in law is accountability, which applies to both the government and to the individual citizen. The rule of law is a concept in which all individuals and entities, including the state itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, stable, and applied evenly. It is a framework for governance that ensures human rights, freedoms and property and contractual rights, and provides access to independent justice.

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