What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules that are created by social or governmental institutions to regulate human behavior. Nevertheless, its precise definition remains a matter of debate.

The term ‘law’ is used to describe a wide variety of legal systems, all of which have their own distinctive characteristics. Generally speaking, there are four types of laws: civil (or common law), criminal, property and contract.

Civil Law

Most jurisdictions in Europe and North America use a civil code that outlines the types of cases that can be brought to court, the procedures that apply to these cases, and the punishments that can be imposed for violations. These standardized codes are designed to reduce bias and allow for more consistent application of the law.

Private Law

Individuals may also create their own laws, or contracts that can be enforced by a court. These can vary significantly from one country to another, but they usually include some form of formal agreement that has to be signed by both parties in order to be binding and legally enforceable.

Constitutional Law

In Western nations, constitutional law focuses on rights. It is a theory of natural law that is based on the idea that an individual’s basic freedoms, such as property ownership and the right to be safe, are protected by law.

In Hohfeldian terms, claims and privileges determine what right-holders can do; power and immunities determine what right-objects can do; and the claim-right-power relationship relates the claim-right to the duty of the right-holder to exercise that right. Some Hohfeldian relations are active (privilege-right-power relationship) while others are passive (claim-right-immunity relationship).