What Is Law?


Law is a system of rules or codes that governs human behaviour in a specific situation. It is enforced by a state, and it can be either formal or informal. A legal scholar renowned for his ideologies on law, John Salmond, classified the sources of laws into two categories: material and formal. Formal sources include statutes or legislation, judicial precedents, and customs.

A law is not only a rule that defines right and wrong, but it also regulates people’s social behaviours. It determines who is eligible to vote in elections, whether someone can get married, and even if a person has the right to use public spaces like sidewalks and roads. The law is also a tool for achieving social stability and balance by harmonizing conflicting interests and groups.

Laws are made by governments and courts, which set the standards for acceptable behaviour. They are enforceable through a state’s sanction, and they can be both positive (such as the law against murder) and negative (such as the law against driving while drunk).

The precise definition of the law has been a subject of debate for centuries. It has been reshaped by Max Weber and others, who have influenced thinking about the extension of state power. A modern definition of the law focuses on accountability: it is clear and publicized, stable, and applied evenly, ensuring that human rights are respected. It also requires measures to ensure access to justice, separation of powers, participation in decision-making and legal certainty.

Posted in: Gambling