The Basics of Law


Law is the system of rules a society or government develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements, and social relationships. It also refers to the people who work in this system.

Civil laws include such fields as tort law, which provides compensation for people whose property is damaged or their reputations are harmed (for example, car accidents and defamation). Criminal law deals with conduct that is considered harmful to social order and which may be punishable by imprisonment.

The law is a rich source of scholarly inquiry in legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. It raises important and complex issues of equality and fairness. Law governs the exercise of power by government and private entities, so it must ensure accountability. This requires clear and publicized rules, consistency in enforcement, and mechanisms for correcting errors and ensuring justice.

In addition to the principles outlined above, law also has certain peculiar characteristics that distinguish it from empirical science (as the law of gravity) or even social science (such as the Law of Demand and Supply). Most importantly, laws have a normative character, in other words, they prescribe how people ought to behave.

International law is the area of law that addresses the relations between nations and between different areas within a nation, such as territorial waters or outer space. The most prominent examples of this are treaties and international customs.