Law is a system of rules created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of ongoing debate. It has been variously described as a science and as an art of justice.
Law encompasses a large number of subjects that span all areas of human activity and concern all aspects of life. However, it is possible to break down the broad subject of Law into three core categories for convenience. These are: labour law, civil law and criminal law. The former concerns the way in which individuals are treated by the state and covers everything from minimum wage to workplace rights, while the latter relates to how criminal trials and appeals proceed and which materials courts can consider when building their cases.
Labour law can be further divided into labour relations and industrial relations. Labour relations concern the way in which workers are treated by employers, including the right to unionise and go on strike. This is a very important area of modern society, as the economic costs of unemployment are high. Industrial relations involve the relationship between employers and trade unions, which is also regulated in many countries. Civil law and criminal law are the core of legal study and are the branches of law which deal with individual disputes and alleged crimes. These are the subjects which most people will come into contact with in their daily lives – for example, when they are pulled over by a police officer for driving too fast or when they argue with their neighbour over who owns the garden shed.
The third category of law is regulations, which relate to the way in which the economy is managed and services provided by the government and private companies are run. For example, water, electricity, gas and telecomms are all regulated industries. These are a central part of the public service in most OECD countries and are bound by varying degrees of social responsibility, as well as the laws that govern their management.
There are still a few cultures in the world that do not use the scientific model of Law to explain their own ways of governing themselves. These people often have a different concept of Law, which is based more on their own observations and the relationships they see between phenomena, rather than on logical reasoning.
Regardless of the precise definition of Law, its fundamental goal is to create a safe and orderly society. This is achieved by ensuring that all citizens have the same rights and that they are treated fairly in court and elsewhere. It also provides a means for resolving disputes peacefully, such as when two people claim ownership of a property. In order for this to happen, the rules regulating how a legal system works must be clear and consistent. This can be done through constitutions, which codify the principles that govern a country, and through the judicial process, which establishes a system of law through precedent.