Law is the collection of rules that are enforceable by social institutions. This set of rules includes contracts, rules of court, and laws regulating economics, politics, and other aspects of society.
Law is usually overseen by a government or independent regulating body. However, private individuals can also create legally binding contracts.
Legal systems can be divided into common law and civil law. Common law legal systems explicitly acknowledge that judicial decisions are “law,” whereas civil law legal systems are less explicit.
Common law legal systems include the doctrine of precedent, which means that past rulings of a higher court bind future judgments of a lower court. Judges in common law jurisdictions often write for only one case at a time.
Civil law legal systems are shorter and are largely composed of legislation. In a civil law legal system, judges are not able to command police forces. Instead, they make judicial decisions that must be respected.
The International Court of Justice (also known as the World Court) is the primary United Nations dispute settlement mechanism. It has considered over 170 cases and issued numerous judgments.
Some of the most important legal issues for 2020 and beyond include immigration, healthcare, LGBTQ rights, and voting issues. Meanwhile, environmental concerns continue to grow in importance.
Law is a complex, dynamic, and ever changing area of research. It’s important to understand that it spreads into virtually every aspect of life.
The concept of ‘natural law’ emerged in ancient Greece. It later entered mainstream culture through the writings of Thomas Aquinas and John Austin. But despite the strong philosophical foundation of the concept, utilitarian theories remained dominant in law until the 20th century.