Law is the system of rules that are set by a government or society to deal with things like crime, trade, social relations, property and finance. These laws are regulated and enforced by the government or a governing authority.
Legal systems serve many purposes, including keeping the peace, maintaining the status quo, protecting individual rights and minorities against majorities, promoting social justice and orderly social change. Some systems are better than others at accomplishing these objectives.
The law is a complex and changing body of rules. Its primary function is to regulate conduct and make sure that everyone is treated fairly, but it also serves other purposes.
In the United States, federal law is made up of laws passed by Congress and regulations issued by executive departments and agencies arranged by subject in the Code of Federal Regulations. This includes regulations pertaining to everything from immigration and nationality law to social security and family law.
Commercial law is the field of legal practice dealing with business transactions, ranging from contracts and corporate governance to mergers and acquisitions. It is a large and growing branch of the legal profession.
Tax law involves the collection of income and sales taxes and the levying of other kinds of taxes, such as value added tax and corporate tax. Banking law covers the regulation of banks and other financial institutions, and involves laws pertaining to the minimum amounts of capital they must have.
Insurance law, which deals with the provision of public and private insurance, is another area that falls under the umbrella of legal practice. It involves statutes and regulations that protect the interests of consumers in various ways, from the protection of consumer claims against insurers to requirements for the disclosure of information to insurers.
Property law governs ownership and possession of real estate, such as land, and movable goods, such as cars and jewelry. It has a number of subdisciplines, including property rights in rem, land rights, intellectual property law and company law.
Tort law provides for compensation when someone or their property is harmed, for example by a car accident or libel. It is a part of civil law, which also deals with disputes between individuals.
There are a number of different types of law, each with a separate history and culture. Some jurisdictions use a primarily legislative system, while others have a common law tradition. In both cases, however, the judiciary is empowered to adapt and interpret law to meet new needs.
There are a number of definitions of law, all of which agree that it is a set of rules that people use to govern their behavior and conduct. Some of these definitions are very broad and cover many areas, while other definitions focus on specific aspects of law.