What is Law?
Law is a social institution that sets standards and maintains order, resolves disputes and protects individuals’ liberties and rights. It also provides a framework for orderly social change. It is a complex, constantly evolving area of study that spans many disciplines and encompasses a wide variety of activities.
Some legal systems are better at some of these goals than others. An authoritarian regime may keep the peace and preserve the status quo, but it can oppress minorities or political opponents. In contrast, a democracy can promote freedom of speech and assembly and allow for peaceful social change. A nation’s legal system reflects its history, connections with other countries and adherence to international standards.
There are three core subjects of Law: contract law, criminal law and property law. Contract law covers agreements between people, including sales contracts and hiring arrangements. Criminal law deals with punishments for violations of public morality and private property. Property law defines a person’s rights and duties toward tangible objects, such as land or buildings, and intangible possessions such as money and shares.
Other subjects of Law are family law, social security and consumer law. Family law includes marriage, divorce and child custody proceedings and rights to inheritance. Consumer law is a field of regulation that addresses everything from unfair contract terms and clauses to airline baggage policies. Social security and labour laws involve a tripartite industrial relationship between employer, employee and trade union. These subjects often overlap and can be highly politicised.