Three Key Areas of Law


Law consists of all those rules and principles that shape politics, economics, history and society in various ways. It is a complex and varied topic, but three key areas can be identified.

The first involves establishing standards, maintaining order and resolving disputes. The second concerns protecting liberties and rights. The third is regulating and controlling change in society. All nations need to fulfil these roles, but some are better at it than others. For example, an authoritarian government may keep the peace and maintain the status quo, but it can also oppress minorities or political opponents.

Legal systems vary widely from place to place. Civil law systems, based on concepts and categories largely derived from Roman law, are found throughout the world today and cover around 60% of it. Other systems follow a more procedural approach and use judges to adjudicate legal cases.

These are often termed common law systems. Judges are considered ‘depositories of the law’ and must decide according to a set of precedents established over time. Historically religious laws have played a role in secular judging, with Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia both having some law-like implication. Christian canon law still survives in some church communities.

Other areas of law include labour laws that regulate the relationship between worker and employer, family and property laws governing marriage, divorce or separation, and evidence law that stipulates what materials courts can consider for a case to be built. Competition law, meanwhile, controls businesses that attempt to manipulate market prices by abusing their economic power and is rooted in Roman decrees against price fixing and English restraint of trade doctrine.

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