The Basics of Law
Law is the body of rules that govern the actions of individuals, organizations, communities, and societies. Its defining principles include justice, equality, and freedom.
Common law (also known as case law or judicial precedent) is a system of legal decisions by courts that is acknowledged as “law” on equal footing with statutes adopted through the legislative process and with regulations issued by the executive branch. This tradition of “law” reflects the principle that higher court decisions bind lower courts, and that future court decisions must be consistent with past ones.
Civil law systems, covering about 60% of the world, are based on concepts, categories, and rules derived from Roman law with some influence from canon law, sometimes supplemented or modified by local custom or culture. These systems are characterized by a strong tradition of cooperation, order, and predictability, and they emphasize human rights rather than criminal justice.
In most cases, however, legal systems are governed by a political entity called a nation-state. This institution is responsible for adopting and enforcing the laws of the country, and it also provides legal protection and services to its citizens.
Governments have many powers to make and enforce laws, but the most important of these are judicial authority and executive power. In some countries, the executive and judicial branches are directly elected by the people. In other countries, a government is appointed by a governing body of politicians and representatives of the public, such as a parliament or a president.
The governing authority of a nation-state is often limited by its constitution. This enables the governing body to decide what types of actions are allowed, or not, and how they should be punished if they are not.
For example, the constitution may prohibit stealing or other illegal activities and establish how those offenses will be punished. Similarly, the constitution may protect certain basic rights or freedoms and ensure that the citizens of a country are treated equally under the law.
Some of these rights are guaranteed by the constitution, and other are enforceable through the courts or by international treaties. Examples of enforceable rights are those concerning employment, immigration, and nationality, as well as property rights, such as a person’s right to own or rent their home or land.
A lawyer is a professional who advises others on legal matters and represents them in court. They are regulated by a law society or bar council, and are typically required to pass qualifying examinations to be admitted to the profession.
The practice of law is an art form that requires special training, skills and experience. A person who specializes in the practice of law is known as a solicitor or barrister, and there are several titles that denote different levels of status within the profession.
One of the major concerns of lawyers is protecting their clients’ interests, and so they often try to obtain favourable outcomes in court by presenting evidence and making compelling arguments. In addition, they have a duty to be impartial and to represent the interests of all parties involved.