What Is Law?

Law is a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Laws may be made by legislative bodies, resulting in statutes; by executive actions or decrees, resulting in regulations; or established through judicial decisions forming precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Laws also may be enacted by private individuals, resulting in contracts or other legally binding agreements. Laws are applied in a variety of ways and have many goals, ranging from ensuring public safety to promoting economic growth.

In some cases, laws are intended to provide a means to resolve disputes peacefully. For example, when two people claim ownership of the same piece of property, the courts can decide which one is right. Laws also ensure that everyone is treated fairly and that public servants carry out their duties according to the same rules as private citizens. The goal of the legal system is to create a safe and stable society in which all individuals are free from fear and want.

The law also protects the individual’s privacy, limiting what information can be shared with others. The law provides a process for challenging government or corporate actions that violate the rights of a person or group. The law also is a basis for morality, providing a guide to what a person should or shouldn’t do.

When laws are violated, the courts can punish those responsible. This is often done through fines, jail time, or other measures. The law can also prohibit certain activities, such as murder or drug dealing. In some cases, the law provides for compensation to victims.

A legal document containing the details of a lawsuit, including who is suing whom and what allegations are being made. The law also includes court procedures such as discovery, trial, and appeals. A judge’s official decision in a case, typically establishing the rights and claims of the parties involved.

A collection of rules and policies relating to specific subjects, such as commercial law or administrative law. The study of laws is known as jurisprudence.

The principle of natural justice that states that all persons are equal before the law and are entitled to fair treatment and protection by the state. This concept is an essential part of most western democracies. It is not, however, always followed in other parts of the world.

A constitutional process by which the House of Representatives can call a high-level federal official to trial for misconduct.