Law is a framework of rules that govern the activities of individuals and organizations. It has four principal purposes: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights.
Legal systems vary significantly in complexity and scope, but most have common core principles. These include judicial authority (the power of judges to make decisions), the principle that courts should be impartial and unbiased, and the right to a trial by jury.
The legal system of a country determines how people are governed and what rights they have, as well as the obligations that each has to others. There are several kinds of law, including civil law, criminal law, and international law.
Constitutional law lays out the basic rules that govern a country’s government. The United States, for example, enacted the Bill of Rights to ensure that its citizens had certain fundamental rights, including freedom of speech and religion.
In contrast, criminal law deals with offenses and penalties. It may involve crimes such as murder, robbery or assault. It is often based on common law principles that have been codified by legislatures.
Property law focuses on the ownership of land, houses and other buildings. It also covers how one can transfer rights in property to other parties, such as inheritance and divorce.
Commercial law is a complex area of law dealing with business transactions and the sale of goods. It includes contracts involving the transfer of assets, and it involves the law of agency, insurance and bills of exchange.
Law also applies to the administration of public services, such as water and electricity. Regulation of these areas is largely left to private companies, although some services are still regulated by government in some countries.
Lawyers are the people who represent clients in court or other forums of dispute. They have professional qualifications and are supervised by a regulating body, such as a bar association or bar council.
A lawyer can be either a civil or a criminal attorney. A civil lawyer represents a party seeking justice, while a criminal attorney defends against charges of crime.
In some jurisdictions, both are allowed to practice law simultaneously, while in others only a civil lawyer can. In the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, for example, both can practice at the same time.
Depending on the type of law being applied, it may require a license or certificate of registration. The requirements for becoming a license vary by state, but typically include passing an examination and having sufficient experience.
The word law comes from the Greek
It also means “the laws of nature”. This definition, though common to many cultures, reflects the fact that ancient Greek philosophers saw law as reflecting an ideal or superior law, which they called natural law. This idea, which re-entered the mainstream of Western culture with the writings of Thomas Aquinas, was developed in opposition to the utilitarian views that had prevailed during the Middle Ages and became the dominant theory of legal practice in the 18th century under the influence of John Locke.