The Nature and Importance of Law
Law is the body of rules and principles that governs human conduct and behaviour. It shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions, in which a central body codifies and consolidates laws, and common law systems, in which judge-made precedent is binding. In the latter case, religious laws have also played an important role.
The nature and extent of the law varies widely. It may be proven or hypothetical, sanctioned or unsanctified, true or mythical, harmonious or antagonistic. Its meaning changes with the culture and context in which it is developed, and this can be a result of political, social or economic processes. The main purposes of the law are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. These are broadly reflected in the legal systems of different nations.
For example, tort law covers damage caused to people or their property; criminal law deals with offenses against the state. Labour law is concerned with the tripartite industrial relationship of worker, employer and trade union; administrative law is about government regulations; while evidence law covers which materials are admissible in court.
There are deeper dimensions to the study of the law as well, such as how it is created and enforced. This is a highly complex subject which touches on the nature of man and the moral responsibilities of the judiciary. A controversial question is whether judges should be free to use their own sense of right and wrong in applying the law – or whether their judgement should be objective.