Law is a system of rules that governs the behavior of people and societies. These rules are enforced by government, courts and private organizations. The precise definition of law is a matter of dispute, but it is usually based on a common understanding of how a rule is defined and applied by society.
The word law is from the Latin verb legis, meaning “to govern”. It also means something that is imposed or prescribed by authority and which obliges obedience on those subject to it. Other words that have the same meaning are regulation, precept, statute, ordinance and canon.
Legal theory is a branch of social science that studies the relationship between laws and human activity. It has several sub-branches.
Realist Definition of Law: – This school is concerned with how law actually works and affects people. It is a response to the dominantly theological and moralizing orientation of sociological jurisprudence.
Neo-realistic Definition of Law: – This school is a reaction against the dominantly theological and moralizing orientation in sociological jurisprudence. It is a response to the dominance of the neo-realism that was developed in sociology and that emphasizes the unconsciousness, organic growth and self-organization of human social systems.
In general, there are four Hohfeldian positions that exhibit Hohfeldian forms of rights: claim-rights, privilege-rights, power-rights, and immunity-rights (Lyons 1970; Sumner 1987: 29-30). A claim-right is a type of entitlement.
A privilege-right is a privilege or exemption from the performance of a specific action. It is typically granted or withdrawn by a person who has a legal right to it, which could be a right-holder, such as a citizen or an entity with legal personality.
An example of a privilege-right is the protection a citizen has from prosecution for a crime. Another example is the immunity a person enjoys from wrongful imprisonment by a state government.
There are also legal mechanisms by which people can create rights, including judicial decisions and unilateral actions such as gifts, forfeitures, consents and appointments. In some cases, these legal mechanisms may be combined into legal “acts of law”, whose legal effects directly bestow or detract from a particular right-holder’s legal rights.
In many countries, the civil code is a system of systematically organized rules governing the conduct of people and businesses. Its structure reflects a system of logic and predictability, and its principles favor cooperation and orderly development.
It is often criticized for its tendency to overstate the extent of its influence and for its failure to deal with some important issues, such as discrimination. Nevertheless, it is the most widely used system of law and remains an essential part of modern life.
Moreover, it is the basis for some of the most fundamental social institutions and serves as a mediator between groups of people.
There are three main categories of law, although they overlap and are intertwined in many areas of human experience. They are civil law, criminal law and commercial law. These include the law of contracts, property, corporations, labor and mercantile relations, and business. They are often arranged in codes, which make them easily accessible to jurists and citizens.