Law is a set of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior and settle disputes. In the modern world, laws can cover everything from censorship and criminal justice to property ownership and civil rights. Law shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people. A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions where a central legislative body codifies and consolidates laws and common law systems where judge-made precedent is binding law. Law also includes a wide range of legal fields, such as contracts; torts (including car accidents and defamation); family law; business law; intellectual property; and administrative law.
The field of law is a vast and complex one. Each nation has a unique political and legal landscape that is influenced by the country’s culture, heritage, and geography. In most countries, there is a central legislative body that sets the law, but the country’s laws may differ from region to region. Despite this, there are certain elements that are common to most legal systems.
These include a legal system that provides for freedom of religion and the press, a democratic form of government, and the rule of law. In some countries, the law is derived from religious sources, while in others, the law is based on scientific principles of natural process. Historically, the law has been influenced by philosophy, religion and social changes.
Civil laws deal with issues that affect the whole population, such as the freedom to contract and to own property. The law can also address issues involving the state, such as the military, taxes, and public safety. In addition to these broad fields, there are many specialized areas of law such as family, criminal, bankruptcy, and evidence laws.
A law can be written or oral, and the language of the law varies greatly from country to country. Some legal articles or papers are more informal and may take a critical position on recent changes in the law, while other legal documents can be highly technical and use footnotes to explain specific provisions of the law.
Legal terms can be confusing and include the following: