Law is a system of rules created by a community or government that regulates behavior and protects individual rights. Laws may be made by collective legislative action, resulting in statutes, or by the executive, resulting in decrees and regulations, or through precedent established by judges (normally in common law jurisdictions). A legal system may also incorporate a constitution that codifies the rights of citizens.
The main goals of laws are to keep the peace, maintain social order, preserve property rights, and allow for peaceful political change. A nation’s laws can be influenced by its history of war and peace, its culture, and the political structure that allows for the making and enforcement of laws.
Laws can be categorized in different ways, but the three core subjects are administrative law; civil procedure; and criminal law. Administrative law encompasses the rules that govern the administration of a government; civil procedure involves resolving disputes between citizens; and criminal law refers to a citizen’s right to a fair trial or hearing. Other topics within the law include labour law, which focuses on the tripartite relationship between worker, employer and trade union; maritime law, which covers a country’s rights and duties with respect to ships and shipping; and medical jurisprudence.
The study of law is also important in determining its philosophical foundations and the methods of its implementation. The philosophy of law encompasses a broad range of topics, such as the idea of natural law and natural rights.