Law is the body of norms that govern behavior in a society. It is a body of knowledge that should be accessible to the public and be capable of being studied, internalized, and applied to situations. Its purpose is to protect people from abuse of power and to settle disputes. In addition, it should be based on the rules and standards of the rule of law and should be independent of government.
Law encompasses nearly every aspect of life. There are three main types of law: criminal, civil, and family. Each focuses on a specific problem or question that a law is intended to answer. Criminal procedure is concerned with the rules of court procedures, while civil procedure deals with the rights of citizens. Evidence law, for example, deals with admissible evidence in court.
A common law legal system recognizes decisions by state legislatures and executive branches as “law.” It also incorporates the doctrine of precedent, which states that decisions made by one court bind all lower courts and future decisions by the same court. Civil law systems rely on judicial decisions and legislative statutes, but are less detailed and less expansive. They also have less extensive judicial decisions, and judges in civil law systems are only writing to decide one case.
The Rule of Law has been an important ideal in political tradition for millennia. Modern understandings of Rule of Law can’t be fully appreciated without taking into account its historical heritage.