What Is Law?

Law is a set of rules and regulations enforceable by social institutions, namely courts and legislatures. These are generally written laws called statutes. They can be used to govern a community, country, or city. This is done either by a single legislator or by a group of legislatures.

There are three main categories of legal systems: common law, civil law, and criminal law. Common law legal systems are those that explicitly acknowledge decisions made by the executive branch and include the doctrine of precedent. Civil law legal systems require less detailed judicial decisions. However, both types of legal systems are subject to judicial review, which is a process of reviewing legislative actions and evaluating whether they are compatible with higher authority.

The United States has several legal systems, including the Constitution, the Federal Laws, the Uniform Commercial Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations. Some other countries, such as the Soviet Union, have their own legal systems.

Law serves to protect individual rights, maintain the status quo, and facilitate orderly social change. It can also serve to protect minorities against majorities, and keep peace in a nation. But these are not its only uses. People can internalize it as a framework for thinking about issues and making their own decisions.

The United Nations has an International Law Commission, which is a group of 34 members representing the world’s leading legal systems. Each member is an expert in his or her particular field of law and is consulted by the UN specialized agencies. It is also responsible for preparing drafts on various aspects of international law. In addition, it promotes the progressive development of international law.

The concept of “natural law” emerged in ancient Greek philosophy. However, it did not become a mainstream idea until the writings of Thomas Aquinas. Nowadays, religion is a source of further law through consensus and interpretation. Other types of religious law include Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha.

Depending on the context, a legal issue can refer to the facts of a case, such as a crime or a planned event. It can also refer to an undisputed evidence or a rule of law. Depending on how the judge interprets the law, the outcome may be different.

The United States has laws that govern businesses, such as the tax law and the Bankruptcy Act. Taxation covers income taxes, value added taxes, and corporate taxes. Similarly, the US Uniform Commercial Code codifies common law commercial principles. Likewise, the Banking Law sets minimum capital requirements for banks.

The common law system includes a doctrine of precedent, which means that decisions made by a court bind future decisions. Courts must be impartial. Judicial review is a mechanism that checks the separation of power between the executive and legislative branches. Judges may invalidate laws that are incompatible with the written constitution.

Government officials have to be accountable for their actions. This means that the executive branch must abide by the governing law, while the legislative branch must pass legislation. If the executive branch decides to violate the law, a judicial review may invalidate the decision.