What Is Law?
Law is a system of rules and principles developed by humans that governs social interaction. It serves four principal purposes: establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, and protecting liberties and rights.
Legal systems are divided into two broad categories: civil law and criminal law.
Civil law relates to disputes between individuals, including property rights and compensation for injuries suffered. It also sets the rules for relationships between people, such as marriage and divorce, or a person’s rights to health care or social security.
Criminal law deals with offenses against a federal, state, or local community. It provides for punishment, such as a fine or jail time.
The word “law” comes from the Latin word leges, meaning “rule.” It refers to a body of legal rules that citizens must follow or face punishment for breaking.
In the United States, law includes the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s decisions in major cases. It is also the legal framework that regulates business, telecommunications, and other sectors.
The concept of rights can be described in terms of claims, privileges, powers, and immunities. A claim-right is a right to act that is expressly held against another individual, while a privilege is a vested right, such as a right against a decedent’s executor to receive a certain portion of the estate once all debts and existing claims have been satisfied (MacCormick 1977: 193-194; Hart 1982: 183-4). These rights may be in personam or in rem, with the former referring to a definite right-object, and the latter to a vested power, such as a right to sue for a specific amount of money.