Law is a system of rules that governs a society. It consists of both written and unwritten laws, such as customs and policies recognized by a community or enforced by judicial decision. It also includes legislative statutes and regulations issued by a government. Laws can be both positive and negative, allowing people to do things or prohibiting them.
Laws are used to promote a social order and protect individual rights, such as the right to privacy and freedom from discrimination. In addition, laws can provide a framework for civil and criminal justice systems. They can govern the actions of a person or organization and establish punishments for breaking them. Laws are created and enforced by a variety of institutions, including the executive branch, legislature, and courts.
The precise meaning of law is a matter of debate and differs from culture to culture. In some cultures, the word focuses on religious precepts, for example the Old Testament Scriptures or the Islamic Sharia. In other cultures, the concept is broader and encompasses all official control in an organized political society, such as that exercised by a ruling class over the working classes.
The field of law is broadly divided into numerous subfields, such as contract law (regulating agreements to exchange goods or services), tort law (the legal responsibility for injury and damage caused by one’s activities), or property law (defining a person’s rights and duties toward their tangible and intangible possessions). Each of these areas contains a number of specific topics.