What is Law?

Law is a set of rules created and enforced by social or governmental institutions to regulate behaviour. Its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate. Law shapes politics, economics, history and society in a variety of ways. Law can be enacted by legislatures, creating statutes; promulgated by executive agencies, producing regulations; or established through case law, creating legal precedents. It can also be created by private individuals, such as through contractual agreements or arbitration. Governments may enforce laws through the police and courts, or by imposing sanctions.

The law can be categorised into a number of broad fields, such as criminal law, tort law, labour law, property law and administrative law. Criminal law deals with crimes, such as larceny, fraud and murder; tort law covers harms like injuries, defamation and breach of contract; property law involves ownership of land and other personal assets, and may be divided into legal title and equitable title.

A major field is constitutional law, which involves the interpretation of a constitution and the separation of powers between different branches of a government. Another important field is administrative law, which covers the operation of regulatory bodies and government agencies.

Legal philosophy, as well as law itself, can be highly technical. The laws of a society can be influenced by a wide range of factors, such as cultural values and habits, social and political theories, intuitions of public policy, whether avowed or unconscious, even the prejudices that judges share with their fellow men.

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