What Is Law?

Law is the body of rules, regulations and guidelines that a community accepts and enforces to govern conduct and ensure justice. It takes shape in a variety of ways and covers almost every aspect of our daily lives. Law shapes politics, economics, history and society in many different ways.

The main purposes of the law are setting standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. These objectives are achieved by a number of branches of law. Contract law regulates the agreements that people make to exchange goods and services, including everything from buying a bus ticket to trading options on a derivatives market. Property law defines people’s rights and duties toward their tangible property, such as homes or cars. Employment law deals with the tripartite industrial relationship of worker, employer and trade union, as well as workplace standards like a minimum wage or health and safety regulations. Public and environmental law deal with the management of utilities such as water, electricity and gas by the state or private companies, as well as their social responsibility.

The precise nature of law is difficult to define, although it is often conceived as being a set of principles that are fair and impartial. A key feature is that it should be based on open and relatively stable general rules, which judges can adapt to meet new needs through interpretation and creative jurisprudence. Finally, laws should be transparent so that citizens can understand what is expected of them and the limits on the exercise of power.

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