What is Law?

Law is a system of rules that a society or government develops to deal with issues like crime, business agreements, and social relationships. It can also refer to the legal profession, which deals with advising people about the law and representing them in court.

From a methodological viewpoint, the law is unique because normative statements in it are deprived of the evidentiary support provided by empirical and even social science (such as the laws of gravity and supply and demand). The reason for this is that the nature of law is fundamentally different from other sciences.

It involves a complex, abstract process for achieving consensus on what is right and just. For example, when someone’s property is stolen by a neighbour, it may be difficult to decide who owns the land. But a court can settle the dispute using the law of land ownership.

In a well-ordered society, conflicts still arise. The law helps to resolve these disputes peacefully by providing a means of settling the differences between people or between themselves and the public authorities. This is called civil law. When an offence against the state or its agencies is committed, it is dealt with under criminal law.

The law is made up of a mixture of legislative statutes, which are passed through parliamentary procedure, and judicial decisions, which are binding upon future courts in accordance with the principle of stare decisis. The latter are often called case law and are based on concepts, categories, and rules from Roman law, canon law, and custom, supplemented by national or regional culture and practice.