The Basics of Law

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Law is a system of rules enforced by institutions that regulate human behavior and ensure that members of society adhere to certain norms. It can be enacted by the legislative branch of government, producing statutes and regulations, or it may be established through precedent in common law systems, where courts must follow earlier decisions when deciding cases that have similar issues. Law can also be enacted by private individuals, who may create legally binding contracts.

Law spreads into virtually every area of life. Examples include tort law, which involves compensation for damages, labor law, which addresses a tripartite relationship between worker, employer and union, and administrative law, which covers the rules that courts must follow as they conduct trials and appeals. There are even laws against bad language, aggressive telemarketing and playing loud music late at night.

The most recognizable law is probably criminal law, which governs offenses against the community. Various types of crimes are covered by this area, including murder, robbery, theft and defamation. Civil rights and environmental law are two other important areas of the law.

The most difficult aspect of law is its complexity from a methodological standpoint. It is unusual for a body of knowledge to be complex in this way. This is because law has normative aspects, dictating how people ought to behave or not, and there are no means available for checking the accuracy of authoritative statements (such as judicial opinions or scholarly literature). In fact, this feature makes law unique among sciences and disciplines.