Law is a body of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate. It has been variously described as a science and as the art of justice. Law is an incredibly broad subject and the articles in this section explore its many aspects. For a general overview of legal systems see Law; for a description of the legal profession, see legal studies; and for an analysis of legal philosophy, see law, philosophy of.
The legal system can vary greatly from country to country, and even within a single nation. But there are some similarities based on historically accepted justice ideals. The main types of legal systems are common law; civil law; religious law; and customary law. Many countries employ more than one type at a time, creating hybrid systems.
In most cases, the most important function of a legal system is to provide fair and impartial justice. If the majority of a population feels that their rights have been infringed upon, they may turn to the courts for resolution. The guiding principle behind the court system is that all people, regardless of wealth or power, are equal in the eyes of the law.
This article examines how judicial decisions are evaluated and the methods used to ensure that the decision making process is free from partisan influence. It also discusses the role of the executive branch in this process, and how this has changed over time. It concludes that the judicial review of administrative agency decisions is not well served by current conceptions of “arbitrary and capricious” review, which place inappropriate emphasis on whether or not agencies have explained their decisions in statutory, factual, and scientific terms.
The articles in this section are arranged by area of law, sometimes called a “practice area.” Choose the one that best meets your needs by scrolling down to find a breakdown of the topic and a listing of specific articles. Learn About the Law is not intended to provide legal advice, guidance on litigation, or commentary on any pending case or legislation. For legal advice, contact an attorney.