Law is a set of rules that governs society. It serves several purposes, including establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. Different laws exist in different countries and regions, and their application varies widely. Laws can be written by legislatures, administrative agencies, or courts of justice. They can be enforced by a variety of mechanisms, such as the police or the military. There are many branches of law, ranging from contract law to criminal law.

The concept of law is very complex and has evolved over time. Hans Kelsen developed a “pure theory” of law, in which he described it as a normative science that explains what should happen. Friedrich Karl von Savigny, on the other hand, saw law as a social phenomenon that grows out of custom and tradition and is superior to legislation.

In common law legal systems, judicial decisions are recognized as “law” on equal footing with legislative statutes and executive regulations. The principle of stare decisis, or the doctrine of precedent, is that a court’s decision in one case sets a standard for judges to follow in similar cases. In contrast, civil law legal systems rely heavily on legislative statutes and have a less formalized system of judicial review.

Contract law regulates agreements to exchange goods or services. It encompasses everything from buying a bus ticket to trading options on a stock market. Labour law encompasses the tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union. It includes collective bargaining regulation and the right to strike. Property law defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible property, such as land (also known as real property) or personal property, which refers to movable possessions like computers or cars, and intangible property, such as stocks and shares.

Criminal law deals with the punishment of people who break laws. It has a number of specializations, such as evidence law and procedural law, which relates to the way trials and appeals are conducted in court. Administrative law covers government policy and administrative procedures. It also involves the law of torts, which are legal damages for injury or death caused by negligence.

The political landscape differs from nation to nation, and a country’s law can be influenced by the power structure of its ruling group. Authoritarian governments may keep the peace and maintain the status quo, but they can also oppress minorities or impede social change. In democratic nations, there is often a desire for more rights for citizens. As a result, there is often a cycle of reform in which the government makes changes to its laws and tries to address perceived injustices. Ultimately, the main purpose of a nation’s laws is to reflect the will of the people.