What is Law?
Law is the body of rules and principles that govern the conduct of people, societies and businesses. It shapes politics, economics and history in a variety of ways and serves as a mediator between people.
It can be a general term referring to all the laws that govern a country or state, or it can refer specifically to a narrow group of subjects, such as criminal law and civil law. The latter category includes the laws relating to business, labour, and property.
The word “law” can also be used to refer to the written or tacit codes that encode rights, responsibilities and privileges in the legal system of a nation, a religion or an institution such as the family. These are codified in a code, often called a civil code, which is an organized set of rules that governs the legal system.
Some of these codes are based on specific laws or treaties. Others are based on a combination of the laws and customs governing a particular region or society, resulting in a unified set of rules.
A key feature of most civil law systems is the establishment of codification, which enables lawyers and jurists to easily access and follow the law without having to consult a long list of precedents or laws. Many countries have codified their civil laws, with the most influential being the French Code civil and the German BGB.
Articles are sections of a code or statute that define legal rules in a given area, for example, the law on contracts or torts. They can specify how a party should behave, their duties and expectations, the measure of damages in cases of breach and how to resolve conflicts.
They can be included as part of a code, statute or even a paragraph in a document. They are governed by a regulating authority and must be followed if they are to be valid.
There are many schools of jurisprudence, including formalism and legal realism. Formalists believe that a judge will use a rule of law to determine the outcome of a dispute, while realists think that judges are drawn to cases that present hard questions and must balance the competing interests of the parties.
The broader concept of rights is an important aspect of legal theory and is a major focus of debate amongst scholars. According to Hart and others, rights provide right-holders with a measure of normative control over themselves or others, functioning to make them small-scale sovereigns over certain domains (Hart 1982: 183; 1983: 35).
For example, in the law of obligations, a contract grants a person a right to receive a debt, or in the law of property, a decedent’s estate gives a right to heirs. In the former case, the right is linked to a duty correlating to the obligation (that the promisee is responsible for paying the debt).
In the latter case, however, the right does not correlate to any vested duty at the time it vests.