The Definition of Law

Definitions of Law:
 
The Third New International Dictionary from Merriam-Webster defines law as: “Law is a binding custom or practice of a community; a rule or mode of conduct or action that is prescribed or formally recognized as binding by a supreme controlling authority or is made obligatory by a sanction (as an edict, decree, rescript, order, ordinance, statute, resolution, rule, judicial decision, or usage) made, recognized, or enforced by the controlling authority.”
 
The Dictionary of the History of Ideas published by Scribner’s in 1973 defined the concept of law accordingly as: “A legal system is the most explicit, institutionalized, and complex mode of regulating human conduct. At the same time, it plays only one part in the congeries of rules which influence behavior, for social and moral rules of a less institutionalized kind are also of great importance.”
 

Legal Systems:
 
Civil law
 
Civil law is the legal system used in most countries around the world today. In civil law the sources recognised as authoritative are, primarily, legislation—especially codifications in constitutions or statutes passed by government—and custom.
 
Common law and equity
 
In common law legal systems, decisions by courts are explicitly acknowledged as “law” on equal footing with statutes adopted through the legislative process and with regulations issued by the executive branch. The “doctrine of precedent”, or stare decisis (Latin for “to stand by decisions”) means that decisions by higher courts bind lower courts, and future decisions of the same court, to assure that similar cases reach similar results.

Religious law

Religious law is explicitly based on religious precepts. Examples include the Jewish Halakha and Islamic Sharia—both of which translate as the “path to follow”—while Christian canon law also survives in some church communities.

Legal Subjects:

  • Property law: Property law governs ownership and possession. Real property, sometimes called ‘real estate’, refers to ownership of land and things attached to it. Personal property, refers to everything else; movable objects, such as computers, cars, jewelry or intangible rights, such as stocks and shares. A right in rem is a right to a specific piece of property, contrasting to a right in personam which allows compensation for a loss, but not a particular thing back. Land law forms the basis for most kinds of property law, and is the most complex. It concerns mortgages, rental agreements, licences, covenants, easements and the statutory systems for land registration. Regulations on the use of personal property fall under intellectual property, company law, trusts and commercial law.
  • International law
  • Constitutional and administrative law
  • Criminal law
  • Contract law
  • Tort law
  • Equity and trusts
  • Labour law
  • Human rights law
  • Civil procedure and criminal procedure
  • Evidence law
  • Immigration law and nationality law
  • Social security
  • Family law
  • Transactional law
  • Company law
  • Commercial law
  • Admiralty law and the Law of the Sea
  • Intellectual property law
  • Restitution
  • Unjust enrichment
  • Space law
  • Tax law
  • Banking law
  • Regulation
  • antitrust law
  • Consumer law
  • Environmental law

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