The Subject of Law

The system of rules that a nation or government develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements and other social relations. People who break laws can be punished by fines, imprisonment or other means. The law also sets out basic freedoms and rights such as liberty and equality. The term can also be used to refer to the profession of lawyer or judges, which are all part of this legal system.

The subject of Law is enormous and stretches across virtually every aspect of our lives. Three broad areas are presented here for convenience although they often intertwine and overlap:

Constitutional law deals with the legal foundations of a state and its political structures, including democracy and human rights. Constitutional law is an important part of the law because it establishes the limits on the power of government and the responsibilities of citizens.

Labour law covers the tripartite industrial relationship between worker, employer and trade union and includes workplace rights such as health and safety and a minimum wage. Family law focuses on issues such as divorce proceedings and child custody and property disputes. Commercial law encompasses complex contract and property laws as well as the law of trusts, bills of exchange and insolvency and bankruptcy law. It can trace its roots back to the medieval Lex Mercatoria and Roman law, but is now moving towards more common law principles.

The rule of Law is a special framework for justice that holds both government and private actors accountable for their actions. It requires that the law be clear, publicly available and stable, and it must be applied equally to all persons.

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