Law refers to the rules and regulations that are enforceable by social institutions. It covers a wide range of areas, from business to family matters. Some common legal issues include consumer rights, immigration, and debt.
In some countries, the government is the source of law, but in many others, individuals create their own contracts and laws. This includes agreements between a private individual and another person, such as a business contract. Another form of law is regulation, which addresses the provision of public services.
Law also shapes history, economics, and politics. It can provide orderly social change, protect human rights, and keep peace in a nation. There are many types of legal systems, such as civil law, administrative law, and international law. Each system has its own characteristics, and each serves different purposes.
Generally, a lawyer is a legal practitioner who has at least a bachelor’s degree and a professional license. He or she must pass a qualifying exam before being hired. Several degrees are available: Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Masters of Legal Studies (MLS) are among the higher academic levels. Lawyers can also be qualified as barristers or solicitors.
Law can be divided into three major categories: statutory, case, and regulatory. Statutory law is defined as the set of rules enacted by legislative bodies or the executive. It is enforced by courts and agencies. Often, these statutes can be accompanied by rules and regulations that explain how the agency plans to implement the law.
Case law is a body of opinions written by judges. These rulings are considered precedent, meaning they apply to future cases. Usually, an appellate court reviews the case and seeks to affirm the lower court’s decision. The judicial decisions can be common law or statutory.
Regulation is a legal system that sets minimum standards for banks, energy companies, and other businesses. It can also cover environmental protection, which is increasingly important, and it serves to penalize polluters. Most OECD nations have laws regulating water.
Law is generally stable, and it is clear. However, it can be changed, and the perfect case may be overturned. Moreover, political power plays an important role in the creation of laws.
There are many sources of law, including religions. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism each have a specific body of religious law. For example, Islamic Sharia is based on the Quran. Religious law also includes Jewish Halakha and Talmud.
Civil law is less complex. Generally, it involves less detailed judicial decisions. Despite the differences, a common law legal system acknowledges the decisions of the executive branch.
Law can also serve as a tool to protect minorities against majorities. Law can be used to regulate the distribution of money, ensure human rights, and preserve procedural rights. If an unconstitutional law is passed, it can be struck down by the court.
Law can be governed by a constitution, which can influence the way rights are created. An authoritarian government can use law to oppress a minority or to maintain the status quo.