Understanding the Basics of Law

Law is a system of rules and regulations that govern the society. It can be a civil or criminal matter. Legal issues often arise from problems such as inheritance, marriage, divorce, and immigration. Moreover, legal questions can be raised due to unexpected illness, or other sudden events. In such cases, it may be necessary to seek the advice of a lawyer.

Laws can be defined by three categories, namely, constitutions, case law, and legislation. Each of these is a means of achieving justice and orderly social change. These systems are governed by courts and the legislature. There are differences among these legal systems, however.

In common law jurisdictions, judges decide matters according to rules set forth in a previous judicial decision. These decisions are called precedents. In contrast, laws based on statutes are written in a more abstract manner. These laws also differ from those based on the governing constitution. In a constitutional system, a single legislator or a group of legislators can make a state-enforced law.

In a civil law system, judges decide matters based on the laws enacted by a governmental body or by a private individual. These systems require less detailed judicial decisions. In addition, a single court can only decide a single case.

In a common law system, judges analyze the issue based on persuasive precedent. This is different from a binding precedent, which means that a lower court’s decision must be followed by a higher one. A New York court, for example, considers the case based on a previous decision from that court.

A judge’s sense of right and wrong is also a topic of debate. Some believe that judges draw an arbitrary line between right and wrong, while others believe that judges use relevant legal principles to reach their conclusions. The latter belief, called legal realism, holds that judges balance interests and apply the rule of law.

In addition, there are those who argue that a moral principle is also part of the legal system. For instance, naturalists believe that human reason and conscience are also part of the law. This idea is reflected in religious law, which includes Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha. Similarly, the concept of “natural law” emerged in ancient Greek philosophy. These ideas were brought back into mainstream culture through the writings of Thomas Aquinas.

The political landscape of a nation varies greatly from country to country. In some countries, the power to make laws is a function of the executive branch, while in other countries, the power to make laws is largely a function of the legislative branch. Hence, there are debates about whether there should be more diversity in the judging class.

The International Law Commission was created by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1947. It is composed of 34 members from around the world, including representatives from the principal legal systems of the world. The Commission works to codify and progressively develop international law. It prepares drafts on aspects of international law and consults with UN specialized agencies.