Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced to regulate human behavior. It shapes politics, economics, history and society. It is a complex and contested concept, but it can be defined as the rules that govern social and governmental institutions.
There are many different types of laws that have been developed, including civil and criminal laws. Some of these laws are made by the government and others are created by private individuals.
Public and private laws are designated by numerical citations when they are passed by the legislature. For example, a bill that passes the House of Representatives and the Senate becomes a law when it is signed by the president.
Laws can be established by statutes (written laws that are signed by the president), by decrees and regulations (written law that is made by government officials), or by precedent, a legal rule established by previous cases or decisions. Generally, state-enforced laws are created by the legislature or by the executive; however, some private individuals can create legally binding contracts.
In addition to legal rights, a system of law can also include rules that allow certain people to exercise control over other people, such as in employment or business transactions. These rules can be called corporate law or civil law, and they are often based on a legal doctrine of separation of powers.
The right to vote and to stand for election, to hold office, to hold property or to make decisions about your own life are examples of fundamental rights, and are commonly protected by constitutional law. Individuals who have these rights may be granted legal protection when a person violates them, and may be compensated for their violation.
A right to privacy and personal liberty is another type of fundamental right, but it is also one of the most controversial and debated of these. The right to privacy and personal liberty is sometimes interpreted as protecting individuals from invasion of their private lives by others, but it has also been argued that these rights are simply the result of cultural differences.
Other kinds of basic rights are the right to freedom from discrimination and the right to fair treatment. These are enshrined in the constitution, and they typically protect people from being discriminated against because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation, among other things.
There are also many other legal rights that are not necessarily recognized by the constitution, but that are still respected. These include the right to work, the right to a decent standard of living, and the right not to be denied health care.
Laws are created and regulated by courts of law, which are composed of judges, attorneys, court clerks, and other legal professionals. A judge hears evidence presented by lawyers, witnesses and other parties to a case.
Lawyers are usually specialized in specific areas of the law and can become distinguished by their expertise or professional identity. They achieve this through various legal procedures, including passing a qualifying examination and earning a special qualification, such as a Bachelor of Laws or a Juris Doctor degree.