Law is the set of rules that are enforceable by social institutions. They are important to the maintenance of an orderly society. However, laws change and can be amended at any time. These changes often pose special problems for accountability.
Several theories have been developed to explain law. They include the positivist theory, which states that law is merely a set of governmental rules. Others, such as the naturalists, argue that religion, human reason, and moral philosophy are also part of the law.
Currently, the legal profession is an important part of people’s access to justice. Lawyers can help people resolve disputes peacefully. Legal systems vary from nation to nation, and they serve different purposes. Some are more effective at keeping society safe and orderly than others.
Many nations have authoritarian governments that oppress political opponents. This means that a lot of the laws and policies that govern a nation are designed to maintain the status quo. It is up to the citizens to follow these laws and avoid breaking them.
In addition to regulating business, a country’s law may protect individual rights, preserve the status quo, or promote social justice. For example, competition law is a set of regulations that controls businesses that distort market prices.
Other issues that require the attention of the legal system include immigration, debt, housing, and family problems. The consequences of breaking the law can range from fines to jail time.
A law can be created by the executive, legislature, or courts. These groups have different procedures for creating law, and each jurisdiction has its own set of rules for making these decisions. Generally, the executive enacts laws through decrees and legislation, while judges review the laws and decide which ones are relevant.
One of the most controversial areas of legal debate is whether the judging class should be more diverse. Today, most of the members of the judging class are white men. Another major debate is the need for a more democratic society.
The concept of “natural law” emerged in ancient Greek philosophy. It was re-entered mainstream culture in the writings of Thomas Aquinas. Various forms of religious law also exist, including Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha.
There are also common law legal systems. These legal systems are more detailed and incorporate explicit acknowledgments of decisions made by the courts. Examples of common law systems are the UK and US. Common law jurisdictions often include a doctrine of precedent, meaning that decisions made by the courts bind the lower court.
A variety of government websites offer information about the criminal justice system, young people and the law, and consumer rights. These websites can be a useful resource for determining a country’s laws and practices.
Several online services, such as Lexis/Nexis’s Shepard’s Citations, are available to help with researching the law. Additionally, the Oxford Reference provides authoritative, in-depth information about several major legal systems in the US, Canada, and Australia. Whether you are researching a specific area of the law, or just looking for the basic definitions, these resources will help.