Law is a system of rules that a society develops to deal with issues like criminal behavior, business agreements, and social relationships. It can also refer to the practice of law, which is a career that involves understanding and interpreting laws.
The rule of law states that, once laws are established, they should be followed by everyone, including government officials and private citizens. This is to ensure that no powerful individual or group can abuse their power by ignoring the laws. The rules should be clear, publicized, and stable. They should also ensure that human rights and property rights are protected. The process by which the law is adopted, administered, adjudicated, and enforced should be open, fair, and efficient.
Some of the most important areas of law include contracts, property, and torts. Contracts establish people’s rights and obligations when exchanging goods or services, such as buying a bus ticket or trading shares of stock. Property law defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible and intangible property, including real estate and personal possessions, such as cars and clothing. Torts are civil wrongs that give people a right to compensation when they are harmed by someone else’s actions, such as car accidents or defamation of character.
Other areas of law include administrative and constitutional law, family law, and international law. The Oxford Dictionary of Law includes entries on all these subjects and more, with 34,000 concise definitions and in-depth encyclopedic articles that cover major terms, concepts, processes, and legal debates.