Law is a collection of rules that govern the way people act in society. They are made by a government and citizens must follow them or face punishment. For example, if someone is caught stealing, they could be fined or sent to jail.
Definitions of law vary depending on the culture, and they often reflect a particular political philosophy or economic system. There are also different views of the purpose of law, and how it is used to enforce social justice.
A basic principle is that law should be clear and comprehensible, so it can be easily understood by anyone in a society. It should also provide for remedies and redress in case of abuse or injustice.
The judicial system of a nation or state is responsible for creating and maintaining laws that regulate the behavior of its citizens. Laws are typically arranged by subject in a statute book or the code of a federal government.
In general, there are three broad categories of law: civil, criminal, and regulatory. These are generally arranged by subject, although they overlap in some areas.
Civil law, which is the dominant legal system in most of the world, focuses on the protection of individuals from their government and others. It is derived from Roman law and based on concepts, categories, and rules that are sometimes supplemented by local custom or culture.
Criminal law, which is found in many countries, provides a way for the government to punish people for crimes such as murder. It includes such things as prison terms, fines, and restitution for lost property.
Business law covers a variety of issues related to starting, running, and dissolving businesses, including contracts, intellectual property, and regulations on how companies can operate. It involves both domestic and international law, such as the laws governing the operation of banks and insurance companies.
Regulations are the written rules that a government makes for its own activities or the conduct of other agencies, such as police and fire departments. They may be arranged by subject in a statute book, and they can be made by executive agencies or the president of a country.
The legal system of a state or nation may be based on either a purely legislative tradition, such as those found in some Commonwealth nations and the United States, or one rooted in the principles of natural law, as found in some European states. In these systems, the legislature establishes the rules and the judiciary enforces them.
Religious law, which is present in many societies, is based on beliefs or precepts from the religion, such as the Jewish Halakha and the Islamic Sharia. It has been shown that it is impossible to make a legal system based on religious beliefs that are incompatible with the laws of other nations, even though the philosophies underlying them may be radically different.
There is a tendency to view law as a science, with the legal system as a set of rules that individuals must abide by. This is a common interpretation, especially in the United Kingdom, where the law is often seen as an instrument of social control and where the government has a strong stance on law.