What is Law?

Law or laws are a set of rules, principles and conventions that govern people’s behaviour. They also shape politics, economics and history in many ways, and act as a mediator of relationships between people. Law is a huge field that includes contracts, property, immigration, crime and punishment, and biolaw.

There are a number of theories of the nature of law. Utilitarians such as John Austin define it as a “the aggregate of commands, backed by the threat of sanctions, from a sovereign to men, as political subjects”. Natural lawyers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, argue that law reflects innate moral and unchangeable laws of nature.

The practice of law is regulated by governments and independent governing bodies such as a bar association or bar council, which oversees legal professionals. They are qualified through specific legal procedures, and typically have a legal education earning them a Bachelor of Laws or a Juris Doctor degree. They may be called lawyers, solicitors or attorneys.

The law is an important part of society, and is essential for the smooth running of businesses, communities and economies. It sets out the rights and duties of everyone, regardless of wealth or social class. The constitution, the ideology of a country and its laws are a key component in a nation’s development and stability. They help to determine the nature of the government, its relationship with other nations and societies, the economy and social justice. The laws shape the country in a variety of ways, and serve as a check on power.