Law is a set of customs, rules, or principles that a group of people recognize as binding upon themselves and that are enforced by a controlling authority. It is the basis of the social contract between people and the government, and it serves four principal functions: establishing standards; maintaining order; resolving disputes; and protecting liberties and rights.
It is essential to human well-being, and it enables people to gain access to public services and to achieve economic and social progress and development. A strong and stable rule of law is also essential to international peace and security; curbing corruption; promoting democracy, human rights, and civil society engagement; and providing stability and predictability.
The rule of law refers to the principle that all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, are accountable under laws that are clear, publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and consistently applied, consistent with internationally recognized human rights norms and standards. It includes measures to ensure the processes by which the law is adopted, administered, adjudicated and enforced are accessible, fair and efficient, and free from bias and abuse of power.
Law encompasses a wide variety of fields, including administrative law, contracts, constitutional law, criminal law, property law, and tort law. Each field of law has its own specialized vocabulary, jargon, and procedures. Law is a scholarly discipline and profession that involves studying and analyzing these special vocabularies, methodologies, and approaches. It is a highly diverse field and contains numerous debates over fundamental issues. For example, there is a lively debate about whether or not judges should be politically neutral. Another debate is about whether a judge should use his or her own sense of what is fair and just when interpreting the law.
Many countries have not historically had strong formal justice systems and rely on customary law. This type of law is based on longstanding local practices that greatly shape ideas about justice. These traditional traditions often involve oral rather than written law, and they are typically unique to a particular culture.
Generally, these laws are not as detailed as the ones passed into law by legislatures. However, the judicial interpretation of these laws is very important. The judicial branch of government has the duty to interpret these laws in a reasonable way and to apply them fairly.
When a person or business is harmed, tort law allows them to get compensation from the person who wronged them. For instance, a person who gets into an automobile accident may be compensated for the damage to his or her vehicle and their injuries. Similarly, someone who is defamed by another person in the media may be compensated for damages caused by that conduct. Other types of claims, such as breach of contract, are handled in civil litigation. Offenses against the government, such as murder and fraud, are covered by criminal law.