What is Law?


Law is a set of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate and it has been variously described as a science and as the art of justice.

Law varies from place to place as it is a product of local culture, customs and traditions. It also changes with the times as it is an evolving entity. John Salmond, an eminent legal scholar known for his ideologies on law has classified law into two broad categories; i.e. material sources and formal sources. The former is where the content of law originates from while the latter refers to the process by which laws are made.

The most commonly used definition of law is that it is a set of rules, which when broken exposes the offender to criminal punishment or civil liability. However, the nature and scope of law is more complex than this simple description. For instance, law includes a wide variety of activities such as:

The study of law is an important area of scholarly inquiry and is found in disciplines such as philosophy, history, economic analysis, and sociology. In addition, it is a major source of social policy, political theory and ethics and provides a basis for societal debates about equality, fairness, and justice. In particular, the rule of law is a fundamental aspect of society which encompasses four universal principles: The processes by which laws are adopted, administered, adjudicated and enforced are accessible, fair and efficient. The laws themselves are clear and publicized. The people who perform these functions are competent, ethical, and reflect the makeup of society.

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