What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules that is enforced by social institutions. It shapes society, politics, history and economics. Among other things, it determines what rights citizens have and what laws they are required to obey. Typically, law is overseen by governmental bodies. Private individuals can also create legally binding contracts.

Legal systems may be divided into civil and common law systems. Common law is based on court decisions, while civil law systems are less detailed. Both systems are composed of judicial decisions and legislative statutes. They are distinguished by their specific characteristics.

Common law legal systems are primarily derived from the English legal system. Courts are governed by the doctrine of precedent. This means that future decisions must follow the reasoning of prior court decisions. Usually, an appeal is made to a higher court if a decision by a lower court has changed the interpretation of a law.

A complaint is a written statement filed by the plaintiff. It contains allegations of wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant. After a trial, the judge reaches a judgment based on the evidence presented in the case. The judgment consists of a written explanation of the court’s decision and an opinion.

Trials are the process of presenting oral testimony and evidence to a court. If the court finds the defendant guilty of the charges, the defendant will be convicted and a sentence will be imposed. A judge can issue a temporary restraining order, which is an order that prohibits the defendant from doing something that is not allowed by law. An order may be granted without a hearing if the defendant has not been notified.

When a person commits a crime, the police will issue an indictment. Indictments are issued mainly for felonies. As part of the process of determining whether a crime has been committed, the prosecutor tries a criminal case on behalf of the government.

Cases can be brought in a state or federal court. A party can appeal a judgment if the judge did not follow the proper procedures or the ruling was contrary to the constitution. Also, a defendant can seek to change a court’s jurisdiction or the law itself. During deliberations, juries sometimes are sequestered from outside influences.

A court reporter records the words and actions of judges and lawyers, and transcripts of the proceedings can be obtained upon request. Judges also have librarians to assist them with research. The clerk of the court assists the court in managing the flow of cases through the court.

There are three major categories of law: private, public, and administrative. Law is used to regulate various industries, such as energy, water, and telecomms. Additionally, law can regulate corporations, such as those that make and sell food and other goods.

Law is used to establish individual rights and to control businesses that manipulate market prices. Competition law, known in the United States as antitrust law, is one example. Modern competition law traces its roots to the anti-cartel statutes of the turn of the 20th century.