Law is a system of rules that governs the conduct of people in society. It deals with things such as crime, business agreements and social relationships. It is a set of rules and laws that are created and enforced by the government, or by a group of people called judges.
The rule of law is a principle that holds that individuals and nations are governed by laws that are clear, publicized, stable, applied evenly, and ensure human rights. It also provides for a fair and impartial system of justice that is accessible to all citizens.
Legal systems are grouped into two main categories: civil law and common law. These systems differ in how they define and codify their laws, and in the sources they adopt as authoritatively binding.
Common law systems, such as those in the United States and England, are based on judge-made precedent that is generally accepted as binding law, while civil law jurisdictions codify their laws through a legislature or other central body.
A third type of legal system is religious law, which reflects the precepts of a particular religion. It is often a basis for the constitution of a country and is used as the primary legal system in some religious communities, such as Islam.
In some societies, such as Islam, the laws are derived from the Quran and are unchangeable. Others, such as the Jewish Halakha, use interpretive reasoning based on Qiyas (consensus), Ijma (the word of the prophet) and precedent to establish governing principles.
The law is a complex discipline that requires an in-depth understanding of the legal system, the history of the law and the philosophy of law. It is different from empirical science in that it is not only normative, but also prescriptive. It lacks the specialized theory of good and evil or the empirical and social science that deals with the proper distribution of goods in society, nor does it have any means of checking the correctness of authoritative statements that are made comprised in judicial opinions or scholarly literature.
Some of the most important issues that arise in a country are regulated by law, such as immigration, nationality, social security and family law. Some countries have their own laws that cover these issues, while some are governed by international conventions.
There are four universal principles that form the basis of the rule of law: equality, transparency, accountability and non-retaliation. These principles are enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, and have been adopted by many other governments around the world.
Equality is the concept that all persons should have equal access to opportunities and resources, and that no person or group should have more power than others. It is a core value of many societies, and one that demonstrates the importance of law to a society.
Accountability is the idea that all actors, including governments and private individuals, are held to account for their actions. This is a fundamental part of the rule of law because it prevents individuals from acting illegally or unethically and allows redress for wrongdoing.