Law is a system of rules that governs the conduct of individuals and communities. This system is based on a set of basic principles such as the separation of powers, procedural transparency, and legal certainty. It is enforceable by governments, courts, and social institutions.
The word “law” traces back to the Latin term lege, which means “rule.” In ancient Greek philosophy, the word is associated with the notion of justice. However, by the mid-twentieth century, the use of the term began to refer to the moral law of nature. During this time, utilitarian theories were dominant. They posited that law should be imposed by the sovereign. But this theory could not have predicted the problems of accountability and justice that are facing us today.
In addition to referring to a rule of conduct, the word “law” also indicates the obligation of obedience. For example, the doctrine of precedent argues that decisions made by a court are binding on future decisions. Similarly, an ordinance is an order issued by an authority that enacts conduct. Lastly, a statute is a piece of writing describing an action or decision, written in an abstract form.
Legal systems are divided into three categories: civil, common, and criminal. Civil law systems, which are shorter and less complex, are based on judicial decisions. Common law systems, which are longer and more complex, are based on a jurisprudence of the courts.
Criminal law is the branch of law that deals with the prosecution of crimes. These crimes can be a violation of a legal principle, such as an agreement or contract, or a violation of a law, such as a traffic ticket.
Space law is a relatively new field that deals with aspects of human activities in space. These issues are largely governed by treaties and international laws. Increasingly, space law addresses property and liability issues.
In general, civil society forms the political basis for the law. Laws are enforceable by government and social institutions, and have been designed to promote social justice and preserve individual rights. Moreover, laws must be enforceable equally.
One of the major challenges of accountability in modern times is the growing policing power of governments. However, law is also used to provide peace and order in a nation. Some legal systems are better at achieving these goals than others.
First Amendment law protects freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and the right to petition the government. A number of cases have been brought to the courts regarding book burning, Internet pornography, and prayer in schools.
Other areas of law include immigration, bankruptcy, and property. Among the most common legal problems are debt, housing, money, and family problems. Additionally, legal issues can arise from sudden events. There are also specific legal concerns such as a person’s right to asylum, or his or her right to work in a nation-state.
Law is a discipline, requiring special training and a professional identity. Lawyers are often appointed by a government or other regulating body. Typically, a person must be a Bachelor of Laws, a Master of Legal Studies, or a Doctor of Laws.