The law (also referred to as the legal system or the judicial system) is a set of rules that governs relationships and actions. It sets out rights and obligations, how these should be enforced and what happens if someone breaches them. It is also a source of scholarly inquiry in fields such as history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology.
The principal goals of law are to ensure order and peace in societies by preventing conflicts, providing justice when they do arise and ensuring the safety and security of citizens. People are bound by laws that protect their property and give them access to health, education, employment and other public services. In addition, the law provides an essential framework for the behaviour of police, government officials and judges.
Law is different from other sciences because it is normative, that is, it prescribes how people should behave. This inevitably leads to tensions with other types of science, such as empirical scientific theories (such as the law of gravity) and social science (such as the law of supply and demand).
Law is vast and encompasses many aspects of daily life. However, it can be broken down into a few core subjects. For example, space law deals with human activities in outer space, while tax law and banking law focus on rules that dictate how companies and individuals must be taxed or how banks must keep their assets secure. Moreover, labour law covers the tripartite relationship between employer, worker and trade union; civil procedure deals with the rules that courts must follow during trials and hearings; and evidence law determines what information is admissible in court.