What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules established by a group or community that must be obeyed. These rules may be enforced by government, and their precise meaning is often a source of debate. The four principal purposes of law are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights. A particular law’s impact on a person or group will depend on the extent to which it is followed, how it is applied, and how its interpretation relates to morality.

People and groups will make laws for a variety of reasons, and the laws will differ from country to country. Nonetheless, the law will generally follow certain underlying principles. For example, a common feature of legal systems is that the law should be fair and transparent to all parties. It is also widely agreed that laws should be based on reason rather than emotion or bias.

The study of law includes the history and development of legal systems, as well as the specific fields covered by law. For examples, aviation law covers the rights and obligations of airlines and passengers; maritime law outlines regulations for shipping companies; patent law is concerned with protecting intellectual property; and family law addresses marriage, divorce, child custody, and more. Law is a vast and multifaceted subject, and Oxford Reference offers authoritative, comprehensive coverage of it, with entries on all the major areas of this broad discipline.

A general definition of law is a set of rules that form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. However, a more precise definition is more challenging, as the field of law encompasses many diverse subjects. In general, a law can be made by a legislature (group of legislators), resulting in statutes; by the executive branch, resulting in decrees and regulations; or by judges through case law, which establishes rules that apply to similar cases in the future (also known as “stare decisis”).

In addition, some fields of law are rooted in religion. The Jewish Halakha and Islamic Shari’a are two examples of this type of law. Other religious laws are further elaborated upon by humans through the use of interpretive techniques such as Talmud and midrash, Qiyas, Ijma, and precedent.

Laws are a crucial component of any society, but they must be carefully crafted and applied. A good understanding of the complexities and subtleties of law can help anyone better navigate this complicated world. This is why the study of law is so important. It is not only a fascinating area of study, but an invaluable tool for those who wish to live in peace with their fellow citizens.