Law is the system of rules that a society or government develops to deal with things like crime, business agreements and social relationships. It may also refer to the professional who studies and argues these rules, known as a lawyer or jurist.
Law shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways and acts as a mediator of relations between people. Those who break the law may be punished by courts or police.
Legal systems vary from country to country, but they all include laws that set out rights and obligations of citizens. A government’s constitution usually provides an overall framework, and additional laws may cover specific matters in more detail. Most nations have some form of democracy and allow their citizenry to vote on and decide laws. The most important function of law is to make it possible for all members of a community to live peacefully together.
A basic principle of law is that no one can be treated unfairly based on their wealth or social status, and everyone should be allowed to have access to justice. This requires a society that has stable and well-organised political institutions, a free and independent press, and mechanisms in place to prevent abuses of power by the government.
The word “law” can also be used to describe a body of rules governing a particular area, such as labour law or criminal law. Other types of laws include civil procedure and evidence law, which involve the rules that must be followed as a trial or appeal is conducted and what materials are admissible for a case to proceed.