What is Law?

Law is a set of rules created by the state which form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. It can be enforced and sanctions imposed if it is broken or breached. It shapes politics, economics, history and society in many different ways and acts as a mediator of relations between people. The main goals of the law are establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes and protecting liberties and rights.

Having been around for millennia, it has evolved into an extremely complex system of interlocking rules and conventions that govern all aspects of life from criminal activities and contracts to property and family matters. It is an essential part of all modern societies and is the subject of extensive legal literature, debate and scholarship.

It is difficult to give a precise definition of the law, as legal systems vary and individuals have very different viewpoints. However, the broadest definition would be that a law is a rule or principle enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour.

A key concept in the study of law is that it is a dynamic process. This means that as experience flows through the legal system, probabilities are updated and new laws can be derived.

Another important concept in the study of law is that of precedent. This is the principle that a court must follow previous decisions and rulings — known as caselaw or jurisprudence — unless they are overturned by a higher court with the power to review their decision.

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