Law is a system of rules a society or government develops to deal with issues such as crime, business agreements and social relationships. It is enforced through a controlling authority such as a judge or prosecutor. There are many different types of laws, including criminal, civil and commercial.
Law encompasses many topics, but can be grouped into three broad categories: labour, property and criminal. Criminal law deals with activities that are considered harmful to the social order, such as theft or murder. Property law deals with ownership of things like land or vehicles. Civil law, on the other hand, is concerned with the resolution of lawsuits (disputes) between individuals or organizations.
The study of law is multi-disciplinary, drawing on disciplines such as history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. It raises profound questions concerning equality, fairness and justice. Law has a normative character that distinguishes it from empirical science (like the law of gravity) or social sciences such as economics, which have descriptive characteristics.
In a legal system that adheres to the rule of law, laws are publicly promulgated and equally enforced, courts are independent and impartial, rights are respected, citizens are informed about the laws and have a say in their development, laws are upheld and violations are dealt with fairly, and there is transparency and participation in decision-making.
One of the main purposes of law is to establish standards that all members of society must follow. This includes police, politicians and public officials as well as private citizens. The law also serves the purpose of maintaining order and resolving disputes. For example, if two people claim the same piece of property, rather than fight over it, they turn to the courts for guidance. The court decides who owns the property and takes steps to protect that owner’s rights.
A court’s decisions are binding in a legal system that follows the principle of stare decisis. This means that past rulings must be followed, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise or the case has significantly different facts or issues. A lawyer’s brief is a document that explains to the judge why his or her client should win the case. A brief can include evidence such as affidavits, witness statements or transcripts from previous cases. It is often submitted to the judge during a trial before they make a decision. A jury may or may not be allowed to read the brief. An in forma pauperis case is a special type of hearing when a person can sue without paying court fees on the grounds that they are poor or destitute. In these cases, jurors usually don’t have to be registered voters or residents of the jurisdiction in which they are sitting. They are required to follow a strict set of ethical rules. However, this type of hearing is not available in all countries. In some countries, the procedure is a bit more informal and there are no ethical rules for the jurors to follow.