Types of Law
Law is a set of rules that regulates the behavior of individuals and communities. These laws can be created by a group legislature, by a single legislator through statutes, or by the executive through decrees and regulations. They can also be created by private individuals, who may adopt alternative ways of resolving disputes to standard court litigation.
A nation’s laws serve to keep the peace, maintain the status quo, preserve individual rights, protect minorities against majorities, promote social justice, and provide for orderly social change. Some legal systems do better than others in meeting these goals.
There are many types of law, but there are a few main categories: civil, criminal, and human rights. Each has its own purpose and is suited for a particular type of society.
Civil law is a system of comprehensive, codified legal statutes created by legislators to reduce bias in the justice system and ensure uniform application of the law. These statutes are used by judicial authorities to evaluate the facts of a case and make legislative decisions.
In general, civil law systems cover over 60% of the world. They are based on concepts, categories, and rules derived from Roman law and are usually augmented or modified by local custom or culture.
Some of the most prominent examples of civil law are in Europe, where a series of civil codes became established during the 18th and 19th centuries. These codes were designed to replace the varying facets of local law, which were sometimes splintered into numerous laws and customs.
Criminal law, on the other hand, is a system of standardized criminal penalties and procedures for handling crimes. It is based on a code of conduct and the idea that individuals should be punished for wrongdoing.
Those who practice law are called lawyers, barristers, or solicitors. In England and Wales, a lawyer must be admitted to the bar through a specified legal procedure. Other jurisdictions use other designations such as a judge, advocate, or attorney.
Lawyers are typically regulated by a government or independent regulating body, such as a bar association, bar council, or law society. A person can become a lawyer through a law degree (such as a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Civil Law or a Juris Doctor) or through an alternative legal education.
A lawyer’s duty is to represent their client in a court of law, in a legal dispute. This can include arguing a case in court, negotiating or drafting contracts and advising clients on how to comply with law.
The term law is often associated with the concept of a rule of behavior that binds people or communities, although it can also refer to ideas such as laws of gravity and scientific laws that have been discovered through experimentation and research.
Law is a complex discipline, and it is important to understand the different aspects of it before trying to apply it in a situation. This is why Oxford Reference has a wide range of concise definitions and specialist encyclopedic entries that cover all of the major terms, concepts, processes, and organizations in this broad field.