Law is a system of rules that a society develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements and social relationships. It also refers to the people who work within this system.
Law has many different areas of study. It can be a broad term, such as the law of contracts or property, or it can be specific. For example, tort law covers the compensation people receive when their rights or property are violated. Criminal law deals with the punishment of crimes, and administrative law covers governmental policy and regulation.
The precise nature of law is a matter of ongoing debate. For example, it is often said that the judge is the ‘living oracle’ who must decide cases in accordance with the law, but Blackstone cautioned that court decisions should not be taken as law, and he was concerned about the tyranny of judges who were “addicted to their own opinions and ideas of justice.”
Legal systems differ around the world, with each country retaining its own particular laws and governing procedures. Nevertheless, they share certain characteristics. In general, laws are a product of cultural and societal beliefs about what is right and wrong. The precise nature of these beliefs is a matter of ongoing debate, but they are generally described as social science or the art of justice. Laws are enforced by a variety of means, including courts, tribunals and government agencies. They are not necessarily limited to the written word, and can also be oral or in the form of an agreement.