Law is a set of rules that govern social interactions and the activities of individuals, businesses and governments. It includes the legal system and the processes of justice. Legal issues can arise when a person is accused of a crime, plans an event, gets into trouble at work or finds that he or she has a problem with money or housing.
Law is a political discipline that ensures that human rights are protected, orderly social change occurs, and that property and contract rights are preserved. Law can also serve to protect minorities against majority opinion.
Law is created by the government and is often based on the Constitution. Governments enforce laws with the aid of the executive and the judiciary. These laws must be equally applied by all citizens. The United States has a number of federal courts that define the law and interpret the Constitution.
Law varies depending on the jurisdiction. Some common examples of law are criminal law, civil procedure, evidence law and tax law. A nation’s law can be divided into three categories, which include federal, state and civil.
Civil law is a legal system that requires fewer judicial decisions. This type of system is often short and is based on the doctrine of precedent, which states that a court’s decision is binding on future courts.
Criminal law is a specialized area of law that deals with the prosecution of criminals. In this field, the criminal acts are defined by public law and the crime is investigated by the police. Depending on the jurisdiction, a judge may impose a prison term for breaking the law.
Case law is a collection of judicial decisions. This is different from legislation, which is a written statute. Both are based on the concrete facts of a case, although case law can differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Legal systems vary depending on their historical roots and their aims. For instance, ancient Greek philosophy and Roman law were based on a concept of “natural law”, which refers to the unchanging truth of the universe. Various legal systems have been developed since then. Besides Greek and Roman law, legal systems have been developed in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Holland.
Some modern legal systems are based on the concept of “international law”. It is a relatively new field that covers aspects of human activity in space, particularly liability issues and property rights.
Other types of legal systems are based on religious principles. Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia are examples of such laws. Religions provide a basis for law through interpretation, consensus and reasoning by analogy.
Another type of legal system is the common law. In this system, judges explicitly acknowledge decisions made by the executive branch and thereby acknowledge that law has been established. Common law also implies the doctrine of precedent, whereby a judicial decision is binding on future judicial decisions.
In a country with an authoritarian government, this could mean oppression and discrimination against political opponents. The First Amendment, for example, protects the right to freedom of speech and press.