Types of Law

Law is the body of rules that establishes standards, maintains order, resolves disputes and protects liberties and rights. The law is enforced by a controlling authority through sanctions, such as fines or imprisonment. There are different systems of law across the world, with many nations having inherited the legal tradition from a previous colonial power. Generally, the law is developed through a process of evolution and compromise between competing interests. Ultimately, laws are made by those who have political power; this is why the law can vary so widely from nation to nation.

The most important function of the law is to provide a framework for peace, stability and social change. However, a regime that has political and legal authority may use the law to oppress minorities or opponents. This is a major concern in many countries, especially where democracy has not been fully established. Every year, there are revolts against existing political-legal authority around the world; the struggle for democratic rule and greater “rights” for citizens is a recurring theme.

Some types of laws are very specific, such as labour law, which deals with the tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union. Other types of law, such as banking and financial regulation, deal with the minimum standards banks must meet, or rules about best practice in investment. Family law concerns marriage, divorce and the rights of children. Immigration and nationality law cover gaining or losing citizenship and the rights of stateless people. Transactional law involves business and money, while biolaw focuses on the intersection of law with the life sciences.