What is Law?


Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour. It has been variously described as a science and an art. Law varies between places/societies as it is a dynamic concept that evolves with society.

Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry in areas such as legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. It also raises complex issues of equality, fairness and justice.

There are two broad types of law: criminal and civil. Criminal law deals with behaviours that violate the rights of others or that harm the community. Examples include murder, theft and fraud. Civil law involves disputes between citizens, for example, a lawsuit or a divorce. Examples of civil disputes would be a disagreement over property rights or a breach of contract.

The objective of law is to ensure justice. This may be distributive or corrective. Distributive justice seeks to ensure the equitable distribution of benefits in society, whereas corrective justice seeks to remedy wrongs. This objective is a fundamental one, and it explains why the state exists in most nations. However, this objective cannot be achieved without conflict. Consequently, many states experience revolutions every year. These revolts are often motivated by an aspiration for democracy or greater rights for citizens.