Law is a system of rules that a society or government develops to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. The term can also be used to refer to the field of legal studies or to lawyers, who are people who study and practice law. The word “law” is also often used to describe certain principles of science. Physical laws, for example, describe invariable relationships among phenomena under specified conditions.
The purpose of a legal system is to promote and maintain peace, establish standards, maintain the status quo, resolve disputes, protect liberties and rights, and provide for social change. The degree to which a legal system serves these purposes depends on its structure and the power that is invested in it. For example, a nation ruled by an autocratic government can keep the peace and maintain order but it may oppress minorities or political opponents (e.g., Burma or Zimbabwe).
In a more general sense, the word “law” can refer to a set of specific standards that people must follow to avoid breaking the moral or ethical rules of a particular culture. This type of law is usually codified into a legal code and enforceable by a government agency or body, such as a court of justice. This type of law typically contains a list of rights and obligations, such as the right to freedom of speech or the duty to treat others fairly.
Civil law is a broad term that describes the legal systems of countries in continental Europe, Africa, and Asia. This type of law is based on concepts, categories, and rules that are influenced by Roman law and canon law but are often supplemented or modified by local custom and culture. Civil law systems are codified in most countries where they exist, with the French Code Civil and German BGB being among the most influential. In some mixed jurisdictions, such as South Africa and the Pacific islands, civil law coexists with common law or other traditions.
A law is a statement of invariable relationships that hold under a set of circumstances, such as Boyle’s law, which states that the volume of an ideal gas will remain constant if its temperature remains the same and its pressure stays the same. A scientific law, on the other hand, is a hypothesis that can be tested or disproved through experimentation. It can also be changed through future scientific research. However, scientific theories are not considered to be laws in the same way that a statute or regulation is.