What is Law?

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Law is a system of rules that governs behaviour, usually created and enforced by social or governmental institutions. The precise definition of law is a subject of long-standing debate, and varies between countries.

Law can be made by a group legislature, resulting in statutes; by the executive through decrees and regulations; or established by courts through precedent. Judicial decisions are explicitly acknowledged as “law” on equal footing with legislative statutes, and the doctrine of stare decisis binds lower courts to higher ones’ future decisions to ensure that similar cases reach similar results.

The term law is also used to describe the specialized practice of legal professions, such as law firms or bar associations. These organizations achieve distinct professional identity by specified legal procedures and are constituted in office by legal forms of appointment.

A number of disciplinary and administrative systems are in place to oversee the work of lawyers. These include a professional qualification (such as a bachelor of law degree, a master of law degree or a doctor of laws degree) and legal registration.

There are two broad categories of rights: perfect legal rights and imperfect legal rights. Imperfect legal rights are those that cannot be enforced, or which are not available in a given situation.

In most legal systems, however, there are a wide range of perfect and imperfect rights, including right to a hearing, to confront witnesses, to receive reasons for official decisions, to finality, to appeal, to evidentiary rights, to redress for damages, and many others.