Law is a body of rules that governs how individuals, groups, and nations interact. These rules serve a variety of purposes, including keeping the peace, maintaining the status quo, preserving individual rights, protecting minorities against majorities, promoting social justice, and providing for orderly social change.
Various types of laws have been developed throughout history and are still being adopted and reformed today. The basic components of legal systems include statutes, regulations, and decisions made by courts.
Common synonyms for law are regulation, rule, precept, statute, ordinance, and canon. Generally speaking, law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority.
In nonreligious use, the word law can also suggest something advisory and not obligatory communicated typically through teaching. Alternatively, it can refer to an order governing some detail of procedure or conduct enforced by a limited authority such as a municipality.
The term law is used a great deal in the Bible to describe God’s commands (e.g., Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:29; Luke 11:28; John 9:48). It can also be applied to other institutions, such as the family (e.g., Genesis 22:20; Proverbs 19:1) and government (e.g., Romans 3:27; 7:21, 23, 25; 8:2).
A law is an authoritative set of rules that sets out what individuals, groups, and governments must do. A law can be a written document or an unwritten agreement between people.
There are four universal principles that define the rule of law: clear, publicized, stable, and evenly applied. The principles ensure that individual rights, property, contract, and procedural rights are protected and that justice is delivered.
These principles are based on international standards and norms that were tested and refined in consultation with a wide variety of experts worldwide. They are a working definition of the rule of law and are often used as a benchmark for legal system reform and development.
The meaning of law depends on its context and contexts vary greatly. Some legal systems are more complex than others, and the terminology used varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Constitutional law is a type of legal system that is primarily concerned with the enactment of laws through a legislative process and the enforcement of those laws through courts. It is the oldest form of legal system and has a long tradition in many parts of the world.
Other types of law are administrative law, criminal law, and eminent domain. They are primarily concerned with enforcing contracts and obtaining property, but they can also involve the administration of criminal and civil justice.
Property law is a broad field of law that deals with ownership and possession of land, buildings, movable objects, and intangible rights, such as trademarks, patents, or copyrights. It involves mortgages, leases, licenses, and covenants.
Some types of property law are more extensive than others, and their regulations can be broader or narrower. Among the most significant are real property and personal property law, which regulates such things as what a person may do with their land or movable items, whether they have a right in rem or in personam to a specific item, and how they can be compensated for losses to their possessions. Other areas of property law include intellectual property, company law, and trusts.