Law is the collection of rules governing people and their interactions with one another. It is the source of much scholarly debate and inquiry, including discussions about the nature of good and evil, empirical and social science or justice (the proper distribution of goods and burdens in a society). Law is also an important mediator between people.
A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions, where laws are primarily codified statutes or legislative decisions passed by the government, and common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as law. Historically, religious laws – notably Islamic Sharia – played a significant role even in secular matters and are still used in some religious communities.
Legal subjects include contract; property law; labour law; criminal and civil procedure; evidence law – which defines which materials are admissible for use in court cases – and a number of other subjects. The subject of law covers a vast number of social and ethical issues, ranging from the protection of human rights to the regulation of industry and utilities. The topic is also a subject of a great deal of scholarly investigation into history, philosophy, sociology and economic analysis.
The study of law is a fascinating and challenging subject for anyone. Those with the skills to do it well are sought after by many professions, especially those that involve advising people about the law or representing them in court. It is a core subject in schools and colleges worldwide, and there are a multitude of journals devoted to it.
While most articles published about law are of a highly technical nature and assume a certain level of previous knowledge, they can also provide an interesting critique of recent legislative changes or present a particular point of view on controversial legislation. This article is an example of the latter, as it discusses recent changes in legislation and takes a position on whether they are a positive or negative development for the law.
It is essential to realise that, although law is a very complex subject, it cannot be reduced to any simple definition. This is because it is based on the physical world and the limitations inherent in it. For this reason, it is impossible to prove the contents of the law – whether they comprise precepts of such or such importance. Nevertheless, the fact that they exist and have been enforced is enough to constitute their existence as law. Consequently, it is vital to recognise the extent to which the law shapes politics, economics and history. The implications of this are profound and it is important that we understand them in order to take action and make informed choices. A comprehensive understanding of the law is necessary if we are to defend our freedoms and protect ourselves against injustice. Articles on this site discuss this in depth. This includes the relationship between law and politics, the economy, history and society. It also examines the different philosophies of law and the way that they are constructed and enforced.