What is Law?


Law is a system of rules or guidelines set by the governing authority in an organised political society to govern and order behaviour. Law encompasses all legal precepts and official control within an organised political society, and includes core human, procedural and property rights.

The general sense of right and wrong differs subjectively from person to person, but provides the basis for laws to regulate human conduct. These laws set out the behavioural rules which people must obey, and punish those who break them by imposing punishments such as fines or imprisonment. The law is a major source of scholarly inquiry in areas such as philosophy, sociology, and economic analysis.

Dean Roscoe Pound’s definition of law states that it is a social institution to serve the ends of the society in balancing the interests of different groups or individuals. He says that law consists of “ought” propositions (normative) prescribing how people ought to behave, and these are dictated by various reasons including moral, economic or social.

The law varies from country to country, owing to differences in culture and religion. For example, a Muslim can have four wives, while Hindus may only have one wife at a time, as dictated by religious law. The law also reflects the political structure of each country. For example, the legal systems of democratic countries have a stronger emphasis on equality than those of socialist and communist countries. The law also relates to the management of public resources and utilities, for example water, energy and telecommunications laws.