What Is Law?


The law is the system of rules that governs a nation-state or community. It has four principal functions: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights. The quality of a government’s laws and its ability to serve these functions is a key measure of its success. Laws vary considerably from nation to nation because political systems differ. The people or groups that command political power determine who can make and enforce the laws.

Law is a complex subject and is an object of many academic studies such as legal history, philosophy, economic analysis, and sociology. In addition to addressing social wants, the law also addresses moral questions concerning equality and fairness. Laws are created by people, but they must comply with the rules of science. Thus, they must be tested and re-examined as circumstances change.

Appeals – A request, usually by the losing party in a case, for another court to review a decision of a lower court or tribunal. A court that hears appeals is called an appellate court or, in some countries, a high court. The term en banc, meaning “in the full bench,” refers to the practice of hearing an appeal with the entire membership of a court rather than a small group such as three judges.

Hans Kelsen created a theory of law that differs from the traditional ‘law as fact’ view. He argues that law is a normative science, meaning it prescribes how things should be done, not just what must happen.