Definition of Law

Law is a set of rules created by the state which form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. The laws are enforced by mechanisms created by the state and sanctions imposed when they are broken or breached. Laws are used to protect people of all social classes, backgrounds and incomes from abuse by the state or others. Some laws are universal, while others relate to particular groups of people, for example, those that apply to drivers, or to children.

There are many different definitions of law, each based on a specific philosophy or a way of thinking about the world. Some theories are moral, some utilitarian, and some are based on scientific thought. These different ideas about the nature of law have led to a wide range of legal systems across the globe.

The most common definition of law is that it is a system of rules established by the sovereign, enforceable by threats and sanctions. This theory of law was formulated by John Austin, who described it as “a collection of commands, backed by threats of sanction, from a sovereign to men as political subjects.”

Other definitions of law include those that are based on the principles of natural justice, or the principle that the ruler of a country has a duty to treat everyone fairly. This definition is influenced by the work of Montesquieu, and by other philosophers such as Locke. It also influences modern conceptions of judicial review, where judges examine government decisions to ensure they are well explained and do not violate constitutional rights or public policy.

Still other definitions of law are based on the idea that there are certain unchanging, fundamental laws in the universe, and that these are revealed in the scriptures of different religions. This definition of law is often influenced by religious beliefs such as the Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia, or Christian canon laws.

Other legal theories have been influenced by the economics of society, the environment, and the way that technology has shaped the world around us. Some examples are banking law, which sets the minimum levels of capital banks must hold, and regulations that govern how companies operate in certain industries such as electricity, gas and water. Other examples are the laws relating to taxation, or the way that contracts and agreements are governed. These are influenced by the development of technologies such as the internet, which have given rise to new forms of business and new ways of working together. These new relationships have changed the nature of legal regulation, and the way that it is carried out by private and public organisations. This has resulted in a broadening of the scope of what is covered by law. This change in scope has made it difficult to develop a definitive list of what is covered by the term ‘law’. Nevertheless, there are some key concepts that most legal systems share. These include: