What Is Law?


Law is a major source of scholarly inquiry into the philosophy, history and sociology of society and raises profound questions of fairness and justice. Law’s subject matter stretches into virtually every area of human endeavour. It includes the study of a tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union; legal procedure (what happens as a trial or hearing proceeds); evidence law (which materials are admissible in court to build a case) and the nature and purpose of criminal and civil law.

In a well-ordered society people disagree, and the law offers a way to resolve those conflicts peacefully. Laws can also help to protect the lives and property of citizens, ensure that public officials behave properly and prevent the development of social disorder. These purposes are served by a variety of laws, some of which, such as police and civil service law, are a matter of national policy. Others, such as immigration or family law, are the responsibility of local government, whilst competition laws – which go back to Roman decrees and English restraint of trade doctrine – try to control businesses that abuse their power to inflate market prices at consumers’ expense.

A lawyer is a person who practices the Law – that is, he or she advocates and defends the rights and interests of clients in courts of law. Modern lawyers achieve their distinct professional identity by passing a statutory qualification (usually a Bachelor of Laws or Bachelor of Civil Law degree) and are governed by strict rules about ensuring independence from their client’s interests.

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