The Basics of Law
Law is a set of rules that must be followed by people, groups and governments. The laws are usually made by the government, and you must follow them or face punishment if you break them. Examples of laws are those against stealing, murder and drunk driving.
Legal systems vary widely, but they often have common elements. In the United States, for example, the Constitution is both a law and a rule of governance. Its various provisions bind both the executive and the legislature.
Judicial decisions are also recognized as law on equal footing with statutes and regulations written by the government. This is called the doctrine of stare decisis.
The law is a guide for citizens that sets out what should be done, by whom and for what purpose. It is used to defend human rights, to provide justice and to create a fair society.
Examples of legal systems are civil, customary and religious. Almost all the world’s countries have at least one of these legal traditions, although some, such as China and India, have more than one.
Criminal, civil and property laws regulate the behavior of individuals, organizations and governments. Criminal laws are designed to prevent crime, while civil and property laws regulate the sale of goods or services between people, groups and businesses.
The rule of law is a legal principle that guarantees equality and accountability for all individuals, organizations and governments. Individuals who have been wronged by a violation of established laws may seek to redress the harm through the legal system.