The Basics of Law

Law is the set of rules, regulations and guidelines enforced by a controlling authority to control behaviour, maintain order, resolve disputes and protect liberties. It is also the subject of complex theories, including those of good and evil, morality, social science, and justice (the proper distribution of privileges and burdens in a society).

In the modern world, laws are made by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. They govern every aspect of people’s lives, from the freedom to speak freely and practice religion to the right to own property, to receive medical care or have children. They provide protection from the tyranny of mobs and the power of dictatorships. They establish standards for commerce and the exchange of goods and services. They set minimum wages, impose taxes on corporations and individuals, regulate the investment of savings, and prevent financial crises like that of 1929.

Legal disciplines and subfields include contract law, which deals with agreements to exchange things of value; tort law, which relates to civil wrongs such as negligence, defamation, and trespass; and property law, which defines people’s rights and duties toward their tangible possessions, such as houses or cars. Other subjects include labour law, which focuses on the tripartite industrial relationship of employer, employee, and trade union; and criminal law, whose rules determine whether someone will be imprisoned for a crime.

Although there are a variety of different types of laws in the world, they all serve four primary purposes: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights. The precise nature of these laws and their impact varies greatly between societies, as does the way they are created and enforced.

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