Understanding the Basics of Law

Law is a set of rules enforceable by social institutions. It is an important part of a country’s system of government, as it provides equality before the law. Various types of laws govern the behavior of individuals, businesses and society as a whole.

Commonly, a lawyer is someone who has a Juris Doctor or Bachelor of Laws degree. In addition to these qualifications, a modern lawyer must also pass a qualifying exam. The profession of law is typically overseen by the government or a private regulating body.

There are three main categories of laws: civil law, common law, and criminal law. These legal systems are differentiated by how decisions are made and whether they are interpreted. Civil law is a civilian legal system that focuses on judicial decision-making and legislative statutes. However, it does not involve the same level of detail as common law.

Criminal law aims to enforce the public codes of behavior and punish individuals who violate those codes. Punishment can include community service or incarceration. Legal issues are often presented in court and the outcome depends on the judge’s interpretation of the law.

Common law is a more rigid and explicit system. It consists of doctrines such as precedent, which means that a decision by one court is binding on all lower courts. Additionally, it explicitly acknowledges the role of the executive branch in making decisions.

The concept of “natural law” originated in the ancient Greek philosophy and was reintroduced into mainstream culture by Thomas Aquinas. Islamic Sharia is another type of religious law.

Depending on the nature of the case, courts may hear both sides of a controversy. For example, a mother might seek a child custody order from a family court. On the other hand, a father might ask the court to establish paternity. Similarly, a victim of domestic violence might request that a protection order be issued.

Besides being a mediator of relations between people, law also shapes history and politics. It is essential in a functioning democratic system of government. Hence, it is important for the justice system to have a system of accountability. Accountability is particularly relevant in an age of policing power.

Some examples of regulation are water law, environmental law, and corporate tax. Another example is space law, which deals with aspects of international law regarding human activities in space. Increasingly, these laws address liability and property issues.

Commercial law is a specific area of law that addresses the sale of goods and services. Companies and individuals can create contracts and other legally binding agreements. This category of law has existed for hundreds of years. Company law is the result of a fusion of commercial and trust law.

Competition law is another area of law that has emerged as a result of U.S. anti-cartel statutes. It was influenced by the English restraint of trade doctrine. Several countries now regulate businesses that unfairly distort market prices.

Other areas of law include labour law, which is concerned with collective bargaining. Election law, which addresses voter registration and fraud, is a subdiscipline of constitutional law. Finally, immigration law concerns the rights of foreigners to live and work in a nation-state.