Law is a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Its precise definition has been the subject of longstanding debate. It has been described as both a science and an art.
Law protects the rights of individuals and ensures that society is orderly. It helps people resolve disputes without fighting, for example if two people claim to own the same property. It also enables governments and police to enforce rules and keep the peace.
The legal system enforces the laws by bringing charges against violators and punishing them. The judicial branch of the government decides cases by studying evidence presented by opposing sides. Judges make formal decisions called judgments after a trial. The term “law” also refers to legal documents and records pertaining to court proceedings, such as the docket (log of brief entries) and a case history. A judge’s instructions to the jury on how to apply statutes and previous case law to a specific situation are known as the charge. When the entire membership of a court sits in a case rather than just a quorum, it is said to be sitting en banc.
Jurists have a wide range of views about what law is and how it should be used. Ihering argues that the purpose of law is to serve social needs. Dean Roscoe Pound considers it to be a form of social engineering and an instrument to balance competing or conflicting interests.