What is Law?

Law is a system of rules that governs human conduct and transactions. It deals with a wide range of matters including crime, business, social relationships, property and finance.


Law may be viewed as a set of ethical principles or standards that guide behavior in society (the legal principle of “right to be left alone”) or it can be regarded as a way to manage society’s resources and provide public services, such as energy, gas, telecomms and water.

In both cases, law is a set of rules that are regulated and enforced by an authority. This authority can be a government, or an independent regulating body such as a bar association, bar council or law society.

Justification and Validity

Generally, legal rights are justified by a grounding in other legal norms. These norms can be either moral or instrumental, but usually are not both.

They are typically enforceable and can be adjudicated by the courts.

Although rights can be justified in utilitarian terms, they are also viewed as bastions of individual right-holders’ interests, agency, dignity, autonomy and liberty. This is especially true in the case of constitutional or fundamental rights that are often couched in terms of limitations on state power over individuals.

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