What Is Law?


Law is the set of rules a society uses to organize itself and control its citizens. These rules are based on moral and religious values, and they provide a framework for defending one’s rights, securing justice and regulating human behaviour. Lawyers and judges are the people who enforce these laws and punish violators.

Law consists of several broad subject areas which intertwine and overlap. These include:

Civil law

The majority of the world’s legal systems are civil-law based, though some have incorporated elements of the common-law system. These legal traditions, characterized by their logical taxonomy and flexibility to adapt to social change, favor cooperation, order and predictability. They are based on the principle that decisions made by higher courts bind lower courts, and future cases of the same nature should reach similar results. This is known as the doctrine of stare decisis.

Property law covers ownership of real and personal (movable) property, including land-registry systems and contracts for the sale of property. It also includes intellectual property laws and statutory systems for trusts.

Family law deals with marriage, divorce, parental responsibility and child care. Criminal law covers offenses against the state, such as murder, fraud, robbery and theft. Labour law focuses on the tripartite industrial relationship between employer, employee and trade union, and employment rights such as a right to unionize or strike. Tax law covers government regulations concerning value added, corporate and income taxation, and banking laws covering capital standards and financial regulation.