What is Law?


Law is a system of rules that a society or government develops to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. It also refers to the people who work within this system.

Defined by Roscoe Pound, law is a social institution that serves to keep the peace, maintain the status quo, preserve individual rights, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice, and provide for orderly social change. It is a tool of social control that can be coercive because it can compel individuals to do something they may not otherwise want to do.

A largely legislative system, yet leaving room for the judiciary to adjust rules to social change and new needs, by way of interpretation and creative jurisprudence. Clear expression of rights and duties, so that remedies are self-evident; advanced disclosure; silencing in the code to be filled based on equity, general principles, and the spirit of the law; and richly developed and to some extent transnational academic doctrine inspiring the legislature and the judiciary.

Civil law systems, which form about 60% of the world’s legal systems and are based on concepts, categories, and rules derived from Roman law with some influence from canon law, promote cooperation between human beings. They are sometimes influenced by local custom and culture, but typically secularized over the centuries.

The study of law has a number of sub-disciplines, including constitutional; criminal; commercial; family; intellectual property; international; taxation; and labour law. It also has many overlapping subjects, such as environmental law, public law and property law.

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