What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour. It includes state-enforced laws formulated by a collective legislature, resulting in statutes, or by a single legislator through decrees and regulations, as well as privately created legal contracts and agreements. Law also includes rules imposed by judges through precedent, which is known as the “doctrine of stare decisis” in common law jurisdictions.

Law covers a broad range of subjects and is the subject of a vast body of scholarly research in such fields as legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. It raises a number of complex issues concerning equality, fairness and justice.

For example, law governs how people interact with one another and settle disputes. It determines who has the rights to a piece of property or how courts should decide a case. It also outlines how to treat other people in the course of business. Law can help ensure that people are treated equally, regardless of race or social class.

Law is a political system, shaped by the way people in a nation-state organize their political institutions and the balance of power among them. As such, it is inherently related to the power of the rulers and the ability of the people to revolt against their tyrannical rule. This tension is at the root of the desire for democracy and the aspiration that every citizen should be granted greater rights than those enjoyed by a wealthy minority.