What Is Law?


Law is a collection of rules that governs human society and is enforced through social institutions such as courts, police and prisons. The law also shapes politics, economics and history in many ways and raises complex issues of equality, fairness and justice. Law is a key subject of scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy and economic analysis and has an impact on the day-to-day lives of many people.

There are many different types of law, but the main categories are civil and criminal law. Criminal law relates to behaviour considered harmful to social order and in which the guilty may be punished by imprisonment or fine. Civil law, on the other hand, relates to the resolution of lawsuits (disputes) between individuals or organizations.

Most modern countries have a civil law system. In this type of jurisdiction, the sources recognised as authoritative are primarily legislation (especially codifications passed by the government) and case law. Historically, there were also systems of law that relied on custom and on religious authority, such as the Roman Law.

Each nation-state has its own legal system, and the way that laws are made and enforced differs from one country to another. In some cases, the power to make and enforce laws rests with a military-political elite or other group that does not necessarily have the best interests of the majority of citizens at heart. This can lead to revolts, aspirations for democracy and struggles over the law and rights.

Whether or not a given legal system serves its fundamental functions largely depends on how it is organised and structured, and this is influenced by the historical legacy of the state’s past colonisation. In some cases, the resulting laws can be oppressive towards minorities or political opponents and fail to promote social justice. In other cases, they can serve to keep the peace and maintain the status quo or facilitate rapid and orderly social change (e.g., under the Soviet Union or China).

Laws can cover a variety of topics, but there are a few fundamental elements that all should include. These include an introduction, body and conclusion. The introductory section should set out the context of the article and the relevant issues to be addressed, including definitions and background information. It should also establish the writer’s position on these issues.

The body should contain an analysis of the topic and explain why it is important. It should draw on various sources of information to make the point that is being made, and should provide a thorough analysis of the legal issues involved. The conclusion should synthesise the points made and provide a solution or recommendation. The article should be clearly written and accessible to non-lawyers. It is important to remember that the audience of a legal article can be much wider than a legal profession, and should include members of a variety of social groups and professions. This will ensure that the article is not merely preaching to the converted.