Law is a set of rules that govern the behavior of people, businesses and organizations. It includes statutes, regulations and decrees from governmental bodies. It also includes contracts between private individuals that are legally binding.
Legal systems vary from country to country, but all have some basic elements in common. They typically have a three-part structure: legislative, executive and judicial.
Legislative laws are enacted by a group legislature, often through a bill that is then voted on and passed by the legislature. The bill is then signed into law by the president.
Administrative laws are made by executive branch agencies and usually enacted by legislation that is passed by Congress. The federal government is organized into many different departments and agencies, each with its own legal authority.
Judicial laws are decisions by courts that are enforceable on an equal footing with legislation and regulations. These laws are based on the principle of stare decisis, or “standing by a decision” and are considered to be part of a common law system.
Precedent is a legal principle that requires the court to analyze cases that have come before it and then decide them in a similar way, even if they differ from the current case. In some cases, a judge will use precedent from an entirely different jurisdiction in order to find a solution that is more favorable to the party presenting the case in the current jurisdiction.
There are a number of different types of law, including criminal, civil and international. These are the most familiar forms of law, but there is a great deal of overlap in each of these areas.
Criminal law deals with offenses that are committed against another person or community. These can be referred to as felonies, and can carry a penalty of a year or more in prison.
Civil law, on the other hand, deals with disputes between two or more parties. It is based on concepts and categories derived from Roman law, sometimes supplemented by local custom or culture.
This form of law is found on all continents and covers about 60% of the world.
International law deals with the rules of conduct and international agreements that govern the relationship between countries. It can involve international trade and commerce, military relations and treaties between nations.
It also involves the rights of foreigners living in a nation-state. These include the right to reside in the country, to work there and to acquire or lose citizenship.
The term law is derived from the Greek word torah, which means “instruction,” but can also mean “law.” In both the Old and New Testaments the word refers to the commands and requirements that God gave to Moses at Mount Sinai.
A lawyer is a professional who is licensed or certified by a government to practice law. They are required to earn a legal education, gain special legal qualifications, and be constituted in office by legal forms of appointment.
The practice of law is regulated by governments and by independent regulating bodies, such as bar associations or law societies. Lawyers must be admitted to practice in order to have a distinct professional identity, and must comply with ethical and professional standards.