What is Law?

What is Law?


Law is a set of rules created by the state that form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. When these rules are broken, sanctions can be imposed. Law is a huge and diverse field, with many different books and debates covering numerous ideas about what law actually is. The main idea is that a legal system is a set of laws and rules created by the state to govern people, businesses and social relationships within a specific territory. The rules are enforced by courts, which may have varying levels of power depending on the jurisdiction. Decisions made by higher courts are binding, while decisions by lower courts are usually only persuasive authority.

Generally speaking, laws are intended to serve four principal purposes – establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. However, there are many different theories on what law actually is, and it is impossible to give a definitive definition. Hans Kelsen created a ‘pure theory of law’, which states that the law is a “normative science”, and is a result of societal norms and customs. Friedrich Karl von Savigny and others argued that the history of law was not logical; it was guided by felt necessities, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy and even prejudices, avowed or unconscious, which have had a great deal more to do with the formation of laws than any logical reasoning could.

Other authors have reshaped thinking on legal systems, and emphasized the importance of the rule of law as a fundamental principle for a democracy. The rule of law involves a legal system in which the laws are publicly promulgated and equally enforced, and are consistent with international human rights and other ethical principles.

The field of law is very vast and diverse, and includes fields such as torts, labour laws, property laws and criminal law. Torts involve the restitution for harm caused to a person or his/her property, such as car accidents and defamation. Labor law is the study of the tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade unions, and involves issues like health and safety, minimum wage and collective bargaining regulations. Property laws encompass the rules for buying, selling and owning land and other objects (such as cars), while medical law focuses on the privacy of patients and doctors’ information.

Professionals who specialize in interpreting and applying the laws are called lawyers or jurists. There are also professionals who deal with the drafting of contracts and the preparation of evidence to be used in court cases, and who represent parties before the courts – these people are known as attorneys or solicitors. There are also specialized lawyers who deal with particular areas of law, such as environmental or business law. The legal system is also often influenced by religious beliefs and religious texts such as the Koran or the Vedas. These philosophies often provide important guidelines for the interpretation of the law.