What is Law?

Law is a system of rules made and enforced by people or groups that control the behavior of members within a society. The precise nature of this system is the subject of long-standing debate, and it has been described as both a science and an art.

Some theories of law emphasize the role of custom and practice. Hans Kelsen created the ‘pure theory of law’, which states that laws do not seek to describe what must occur, but rather define rules that individuals have to abide by. Other definitions of law stress the political basis of the concept, pointing out that it is governments rather than communities or individuals that are responsible for making laws. This view of law is based on Max Weber’s ideas about the extension of state power and the problems that arise in attempting to control and limit this power.

Law is also used more broadly to refer to a specific set of rules, such as a nation’s laws. In this sense, the word ‘law’ can be used to describe any sort of rule or regulation that controls behavior, such as a country’s law against murder. Other fields of law include banking law, which sets minimum standards for the amount of money banks must hold, and financial regulations that aim to protect consumers from crises such as the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Labour law concerns a tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade unions; civil procedure deals with the rules that courts must follow in a trial or appeal; evidence law involves which materials are admissible in court.

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