The Concept of Law

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Law is a system of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior and protect rights. It can be a matter of private or public concern, with the latter typically involving contracts and other commercial transactions, property law, and criminal justice.

It also shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways. In some societies, laws are codified by a legislature and consolidated through statutes. In others, judges make law through precedent. Private individuals can also create their own legally binding contracts. Laws shape politics, history, economics and society in different ways depending on whether they are established by a collective legislative body, the executive or judges.

The precise nature of law and its role in a society is a subject of continuing debate among scholars. Most agree, however, that it is an instrument for securing social justice. This concept of law has several dimensions:

A key dimension is the question of who makes and enforces law. The political landscape is wildly different from nation to nation, with authoritarian regimes generally failing to fulfil the principal functions of law: keeping the peace, maintaining the status quo, protecting rights and freedoms, and promoting social change in a democratic manner.