Law is a system of rules governing the relationship between humans and the world around them. It regulates behaviour in a society by establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights. It shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways.
A legal system may be established by a legislative assembly, resulting in statutes or decrees; by the executive branch, resulting in decrees and regulations; or through a judicial process of precedent, resulting in common law jurisdictions. Legal systems also may be shaped by religion. For example, Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia are based on religious precepts, while Christian canon law still exists in some communities.
There are numerous branches of law covering a wide range of activities and relations, though three categories can be presented for convenience:
The first, civil law, deals with relationships between individuals. It includes contract law (agreements to exchange goods, services and money), property law (people’s ownership of tangible objects such as land and buildings, and intangible things such as bank accounts or shares) and tort law (claims for compensation in the event that something goes wrong, such as a car accident or defamation of character).
Criminal laws deal with offences against a community or a state. The latter includes crimes against the peace, treason and terrorism. This category of law has become particularly politicised in the past, with governments claiming that certain types of crime are not protected by civil rights.
Lastly, administrative law covers the way that government and businesses operate. It involves rules governing public sector activities such as education, health and transport, but also private enterprise such as utilities such as water or energy. It also relates to the legalities of business, such as company law.
The study of law is an increasingly popular career choice. There are several different areas of law to specialise in, such as banking, corporate or taxation, which can offer lucrative careers. There are also many options to specialise in the area of human rights, where law is applied to protect people from exploitation and discrimination.
Law is an area of study that can be as exciting and engaging as it is complex and challenging. The more you learn about it, the more it will continue to fascinate and inspire you. It is a subject that is fundamental to our daily lives, and its influence will be even more profound in the future. It is an area in which you can truly make a difference to the lives of others.