What Is Law?


Law is the system of rules that governs a community or nation, enforced by a government. It is a social order that creates justice and peace between people. It shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between individuals.

Definition of Law:

Law consists of the rules developed by a government or a society on a particular area such as crime, trade, social relations, property, finance and so on. The laws are enforced by the government or the society itself.

Roman law was influenced by Greek philosophy but was highly detailed and was developed by professional jurists. It underwent major codification under Theodosius II and Justinian I.

The Roman Codes were later adapted by medieval legal scholars who developed Latin legal maxims, also known as brocards. These principles were adopted by the medieval courts and became the basis of what is called common law.

There are many different kinds of laws, such as criminal law, civil procedure and family law. Each of these is regulated by a body of statutes and case law.

Religious Law:

Religion is a significant source of law in many countries, and it can even play a role in settling secular matters. For instance, the Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia law are based on religious precepts.

It is also important to consider that religion can be very complex and may involve different rules, traditions, and practices. It can also be a source of dispute between people, which can lead to the formation of law.

Nevertheless, a comprehensive legal system must be able to accommodate the various beliefs, customs, practices and needs of its members. A system that is too rigid and cannot adapt to changing circumstances is likely to fail.

In the United States, a broad range of legal systems exists, including those involving both state and federal governments, private businesses, churches and non-profit organizations. Some of the more popular ones include ‘civil law’ jurisdictions in which a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and ‘common law’ systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law.

The Oxford Reference Guide to Law:

This authoritative, accessible encyclopedia offers concise definitions and in-depth, specialist entries across this broad discipline. Covering every major topic, from criminal law to tax and social security law and human rights law to international law and family and employment law, the guide is an essential companion for students, researchers and lawyers at all levels.

The key elements of law are ‘ought’ (normative) propositions that prescribe how people should behave; and ‘laws’ enacted by a governing authority to enforce those ‘ought’ propositions.

These laws are formulated for a reason, sometimes with an obvious moral or religious purpose, but often because it is a more effective way of solving a problem or achieving an objective than other means. Almost all theorists agree that the main purpose of law is to secure social justice; it is a social engineering instrument which balances competing interests in order to ensure fairness and equality amongst its members.