Law is a set of rules created by the state which form a framework to ensure a peaceful society. If these rules are broken sanctions can be imposed by a controlling authority. There are many different definitions of law and debates have raged over whether or not the precise nature of law is even knowable. However, there are certain common themes that emerge in these discussions and books about law.
Legal systems vary widely in how laws are made, enforced and interpreted. Some countries, such as the United States, use a system of common law which relies on court decisions rather than statutes. Other nations use a civil law system which has clearly defined laws that judges must follow in deciding cases. These judicial decisions are often binding precedents.
There are also many different branches of law which regulate specific activities. For example, contract law covers agreements between people and includes everything from purchasing a bus ticket to trading options on a derivatives market. Property law defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible property such as land or buildings and intangible property such as money or shares of stock.
Other important aspects of law include the role of censorship, crime and punishment, and the police. A major theme of law is accountability which is embodied in the principle of the rule of law. This concept entails that all governments and private entities must adhere to a set of principles including supremacy of the law, equality before the law, independence of the judiciary, participation in decision-making, and transparency of government and legal proceedings.