What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules enforced through social or governmental institutions to ensure that individuals or communities adhere to certain standards or behaviors. These laws can be enacted by collective legislatures, producing statutes and legislation, or they may be established through judicial precedent in common law systems. In the latter, judges establish binding law by interpreting previously decided cases. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in a variety of ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

There are many branches of law, ranging from contracts to criminal justice. Tort law compensates individuals whose property or reputation have been damaged, while criminal laws punish individuals who commit offenses against the state. Moreover, law has a significant impact on business and finance. Tax law regulates the amount of value-added tax and corporate taxes, while banking law defines people’s rights and obligations toward tangible property such as houses and cars, as well as intangible assets like bank accounts and stocks.

The law also establishes standards for the conduct of trials and other judicial proceedings. For instance, evidence law stipulates the types of facts that a judge must consider when evaluating a witness. Trial procedure law describes the steps involved in bringing a case to trial, including arraignment (brought before the court to be told of the charges against him or her) and discovery (the examination by lawyers of facts and documents in possession of their opponents). Another important branch is criminal justice law, which defines the process by which a person can be charged with a crime.