Law is a system of rules that society or government develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements and social relationships. It can also be used to refer to the people who work in this system, such as police officers and lawyers.
There are various different types of laws, such as criminal laws and civil laws. Some laws are more specific than others. These include laws regarding obscene and threatening phone calls, for example.
Some laws are set by governments while others are created by private individuals. In most cases, state-enforced laws are made by a legislature through statutes or executive decrees. They may also be established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions.
The legal system in a nation can serve many purposes, including keeping the peace, maintaining the status quo, preserving individual rights, protecting minorities against majorities, promoting social justice, and providing for orderly social change. Some legal systems are better at these tasks than others, and the best legal system for a country depends on its cultural heritage and political structure.
A law can be either a written document or an oral agreement between parties. A written document is typically called a statute or law, while an oral agreement is usually called a contract or agreement. A statute outlines what the law is and how it applies, while a contract describes the terms of an agreement between two parties.
Several kinds of laws govern the relationship between citizens and the government. These include laws about property, rights to information, contracts, and the criminal and civil justice systems.
Property law, also known as real property or land law, governs ownership of property such as land and its possessions, separating property rights from personal interests. It is the basis for other areas of property law, such as commercial law and company law.
Commercial law covers complex contracts, such as those between businesses and individuals. It is influenced by medieval Lex Mercatoria and has developed over time into the current United States Uniform Commercial Code, which provides a standard set of commercial principles.
Companies and their owners are subject to the laws of company law, which deals with the creation, management and governance of companies. These laws can be complicated and often require special legal expertise.
Banking and financial regulations, such as those concerning value added tax, corporate taxes and income taxes, are another important aspect of the legal system. They protect the public from financial fraud and ensure that banks have adequate capital to meet their obligations.
Intellectual property laws are a part of the legal system and concern rights such as copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets. These rights can be intangible, such as ideas, inventions or symbols, or physical, such as computers and jewelry.
Dispute resolution and litigation are also parts of the law. Lawyers are often required to prove a claim by presenting evidence and testimony before a court.
A court’s jurisdiction – the geographic area that it has authority to hear and decide a case – is determined by the law of the particular jurisdiction. Sometimes, courts may have concurrent jurisdiction, which means that they can hear and decide a case in two or more different jurisdictions.