Law is the system of rules that a society or government develops to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. It also refers to the people who work in this system, such as lawyers and judges.
Law can keep the peace, maintain the status quo, preserve individual rights, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice, and provide for orderly social change. Some legal systems are more effective at these goals than others.
The law can be derived from a variety of sources, including the Bible, religious teachings, and the writings of scholars. In addition, laws can be adapted to fit the needs of specific times or places, such as during war.
There are many different branches of law, each dealing with a specific subject. Examples include immigration law and nationality, family law, and medical jurisprudence.
Criminal law involves offenses such as theft, aggravated assault, and murder. It can also involve lesser crimes, such as possession of drugs.
Commercial law covers complex contract and property law, including agency, insurance, bills of exchange, insolvency, and sales law. It traces back to medieval Lex Mercatoria, and has evolved into codified common law principles.
Regulation – A system of regulations that governs the provision of public services, such as water, energy, gas and telecomms. This can be done by governments or by private companies.
Courts decide how to apply the law in a case by considering precedent, which is a decision from a previous similar case with facts and law that are similar to those in the present case. Some precedents are binding and must be followed, while other decisions are influential but do not need to be followed.