The Nature of Law

Law is the set of rules that a society creates and enforces to regulate its behaviour. Its precise nature is a subject of debate. Law can serve many purposes: to keep the peace, maintain the status quo, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice and provide for orderly social change. Some legal systems work better than others in meeting these objectives. The legitimacy of a government depends on how well it adheres to the principles of the law and ensures its citizens’ rights are protected.

Until the modern period, law was defined as a set of rules created and enforced by a sovereign power over its subjects. This is the view that influenced Montesquieu, Locke and other writers on political philosophy. Modern legal scholars have reshaped thinking on the scope of law and its relationships with other forms of regulation.

The study of law covers a broad range of topics, from criminal and civil procedure to property and family law, banking law and corporate law. There are also issues such as international law and human rights that cross national borders. These areas of law are governed by different rules.

Some theories on the nature of law seek to understand how it differs from similar normative domains, such as morality, religion and social conventions. Other questions involve how these domains interact with law and whether law’s intelligibility depends on other forms of normative guidance.

A key question concerns the role of law in a democratic society. How can law be formulated so that it is fair, effective and accountable? The answer to this requires understanding how power works in a democratic society. In addition to the power of individual people, this includes the power of groups such as political parties and interest groups.

Law is a complex system that is constantly evolving in response to the changing conditions of a society. It is important to keep abreast of developments in this area, and this is the purpose of law journals. The aim of law journals is to provide a forum for discussion and the exchange of ideas about the practice and theory of law.

The Law Encyclopedia is an online resource on the laws of various countries and communities, including international law, constitutional law and administrative law. The Encyclopedia provides concise definitions and in-depth encyclopedic entries on the major terms, concepts, processes, and institutions of this wide-ranging field. It is written by trusted experts for researchers at every level of this discipline. It is a vital tool for research, teaching and professional development in this area. The Encyclopedia is free to use and can be accessed at This resource is updated on a regular basis. To help users find specific information quickly, the Encyclopedia contains a search box. The Encyclopedia is available in several languages. In addition, links to external websites are provided for further research and information. Users are encouraged to submit additional content to the Encyclopedia.