What is Law?


Law is the set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate human behavior. This set of rules can be state-enforced through the legislative process resulting in statutes or by executive decree, as well as by judges through precedent (as in common law jurisdictions). The law can be private, as in contractual agreements between individuals. Law can also be a framework of ideas, such as the law of gravity or the laws of mathematics.

A key feature of law is its normative nature, which means it prescribes how people should act or what they may not do. This is distinct from empirical science or even social science (like the law of demand and supply in economics), where statements are descriptive and based on observed results.

The discipline of Law encompasses many different subjects, from employment law and the tripartite relationship between employer, worker and trade union to constitutional law and the law of evidence. The study of law is also a rich source for scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy and economic analysis.

The law can be complex, with its layers of complexity making it the subject of debate and discussion. For example, it is the subject of debate whether the current structure of judicial appointments and the makeup of juries reflect an appropriate balance between minority and majority interests. Another controversial area is how much a judge’s personal opinions can influence the decisions they make in cases.