Law is the system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour and ensure adherence to a community’s will. Law may be made by a legislative body, resulting in statutes, decrees and regulations, or it can be established through judges’ decisions, normally in common law jurisdictions. Individuals can also create legally binding contracts that are enforced by the courts. Legal studies are often divided into three broad areas, though these subjects intertwine and overlap:
Contract law defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible property — whether it is an automobile or shares in a company. Labour law covers the tripartite industrial relationship between employer, worker and trade union — it involves collective bargaining regulation, as well as the right to strike. Criminal and civil procedure deal with the rules that govern how a trial or appeal is conducted. Evidence law outlines which materials are admissible in court for a case to be built.
The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in a variety of ways. It is a complex subject and has numerous subfields, ranging from the traditional to the modern. For example, a law on a physics topic might focus on Newton’s laws of motion, while a philosophy of law would look at the principles that are derived from the concept of justice and fairness.
Law is difficult to define, partly because it is a social construct and partly because it is dynamic. It is a concept that changes as society evolves, and it is also affected by the way that people perceive their own actions, which are often the basis of their beliefs about the law. The term is also difficult to distinguish from the concept of natural or divine law, which is used by some religious groups as their guide for human conduct.
In its most general form, law consists of a set of principles that govern behaviour, from the simple act of driving over a speed limit to an indictment for murder. It is a concept that has been developed by a variety of disciplines, including political science, economics, history and philosophy. However, it is different from other sciences in several ways: it has a normative and prescriptive nature that differs from descriptive statements in empirical (such as the law of gravity) or even social science (such as the theory of demand and supply). This is why many scholars believe that law should be studied separately from social science.