What is Law?

Law is the set of rules created by a state that form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. When people break these laws they are punished by the state.

The rules in the law govern a wide range of topics. For example, employment law concerns the tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union; land law covers the ownership of a property (land, tenements or hereditaments); and criminal procedure deals with how courts conduct trials and appeals. Other areas include civil rights, constitutional law and evidence law.

Many people have different ideas about the nature of law, and there are various definitions of law. A common theme, however, is that law is a means of social control and that it is coercive. This view of law was enunciated by Hans Kelsen, who gave the “pure” theory of law.

Some legal systems are more effective at creating laws that serve a broad range of social goals than others. A democracy, for instance, is more likely to protect fundamental human, civil and political rights than a dictatorship or military regime.

The International Institute of Legal Studies and Development (IDLO) has devised a methodology for measuring the strength of a country’s rule of law, with its eight dimensions: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Order and Security, Core Human Rights, Regulatory Enforcement, and Civil Justice. Its flagship WJP Rule of Law Index measures the extent to which 140 countries and jurisdictions adhere to these criteria.