Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,[1] with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate.[2][3][4] It has been variously described as a science[5][6] and as the art of justice.[7][8][9] State-enforced laws can be made by a group legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes; by the executive through decrees and regulations; or established by judges through precedent, usually in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals may create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that adopt alternative ways of resolving disputes to standard court litigation. The creation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and also serves as a mediator of relations between people.

Legal systems vary between jurisdictions, with their differences analysed in comparative law. In civil law jurisdictions, a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates the law. In common law systems, judges may make binding case law through precedent,[10] although on occasion this may be overturned by a higher court or the legislature.[11] Historically, religious law has influenced secular matters and is, as of the 21st century, still in use in some religious communities.[12][13][14] Sharia law based on Islamic principles is used as the primary legal system in several countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.[15][16]

The scope of law can be divided into two domains: public law concerns government and society, including constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law; while private law deals with legal disputes between individuals and/or organisations in areas such as contracts, property, torts/delicts and commercial law.[17] This distinction is stronger in civil law countries, particularly those with a separate system of administrative courts;[18][19] by contrast, the public-private law divide is less pronounced in common law jurisdictions.[20][21]

Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into legal history,[22] philosophy,[23] economic analysis[24] and sociology.[25] Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness, and justice.[26][27]

  1. ^ Robertson 2006, p. 90.
  2. ^ Willis 1926.
  3. ^ Gibbs, Jack P. (1968). "Definitions of Law and Empirical Questions". Law & Society Review. 2 (3): 429–446. doi:10.2307/3052897. ISSN 0023-9216. JSTOR 3052897.
  4. ^ Akers, Ronald L. (1965). "Toward a Comparative Definition of Law". Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. 56 (3): 301–306. doi:10.2307/1141239. JSTOR 1141239. Archived from the original on 19 July 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  5. ^ Spooner, Lysander (1882). Natural Law; or The Science of Justice: A Treatise on Natural Law, Natural Justice, Natural Rights, Natural Liberty, and Natural Society; Showing that All Legislation Whatsoever is an Absurdity, a Usurpation, and a Crime. Part First. A. Williams & Co. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  6. ^ Núñez Vaquero, Álvaro (10 June 2013). "Five Models of Legal Science". Revus. Journal for Constitutional Theory and Philosophy of Law / Revija za ustavno teorijo in filozofijo prava (19): 53–81. doi:10.4000/revus.2449. ISSN 1581-7652. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  7. ^ Cohen 1992.
  8. ^ Rubin, Basha (13 January 2015). "Is Law an Art or a Science?: A Bit of Both". Forbes. Archived from the original on 3 November 2018.
  9. ^ Berger 1953, p. 525.
  10. ^ Mason, Anthony (1996). "The Judge as Law-maker" (PDF). James Cook University Mayo Lecture. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  11. ^ Devins, Neal (2008). "Congressional Responses to Judicial Decisions". Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court. Gale MacMillan. pp. 400–403. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  12. ^ Berman, Harold J. (1983). "Religious Foundations of Law in the West: An Historical Perspective". Journal of Law and Religion. Cambridge University Press. 1 (1): 3–43. doi:10.2307/1051071. JSTOR 1051071. S2CID 146933872.
  13. ^ Fox, Jonathan; Sandler, Shmuel (1 April 2005). "Separation of Religion and State in the Twenty-First Century: Comparing the Middle East and Western Democracies". Comparative Politics. 37 (3): 317. doi:10.2307/20072892. JSTOR 20072892.
  14. ^ Cox, Noel (2001). "Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in the Church of the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia". Deakin Law Review. 6 (2): 262. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  15. ^ Otto, Jan Michiel, ed. (2010). Sharia incorporated: a comparative overview of the legal systems of twelve Muslim countries in past and present. Leiden University Press. ISBN 9789087280574.
  16. ^ Raisch, Marylin Johnson. "Religious Legal Systems in Comparative Law: A Guide to Introductory Research – GlobaLex". Hauser Global Law School Program. New York University School of Law. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  17. ^ Horwitz, Morton J. (1 June 1982). "The History of the Public/Private Distinction". University of Pennsylvania Law Review. 130 (6): 1423–1428. doi:10.2307/3311976. JSTOR 3311976. S2CID 51854776. Retrieved 3 January 2020.[dead link]
  18. ^ Merryman, John Henry (1968). "The Public Law-Private Law Distinction in European and American Law". Journal of Public Law. 17: 3. Archived from the original on 12 February 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  19. ^ Saiman, Chaim N. (6 July 2008). "Public Law, Private Law, and Legal Science". American Journal of Comparative Law. Social Science Research Network. 56 (961): 691–702. doi:10.5131/ajcl.2007.0023. Archived from the original on 28 April 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  20. ^ Harlow, Carol (1 May 1980). ""Public" and "private" law: definition without distinction". The Modern Law Review. 43 (3): 241–265. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2230.1980.tb01592.x. ISSN 1468-2230.
  21. ^ Samuel, Geoffrey (1 September 1983). "Public And Private Law: A Private Lawyer's Response". The Modern Law Review. 46 (5): 558–583. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2230.1983.tb02534.x. ISSN 1468-2230.
  22. ^ Gordley, James (16 November 2006). Reimann, Mathias; Zimmermann, Reinhard (eds.). "Comparative Law and Legal History". The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Law: 752–774. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199296064.013.0024. ISBN 9780199296064. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  23. ^ Bor, Fredric L. (1974). "The nexus between philosophy and law". Journal of Legal Education. 26 (4): 539–543. ISSN 0022-2208. JSTOR 42896964.
  24. ^ Rubin, Paul H. "Law and Economics". The Library of Economics and Liberty. Liberty Fund, Inc. Archived from the original on 2 July 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  25. ^ Banakar, Reza (2003). Merging law and sociology : beyond the dichotomies in socio-legal research. Berlin/Wisconsin: Galda and Wilch Publishing. ISBN 1-931255-13-X.
  26. ^ Pound, Roscoe (1914). "The End of Law as Developed in Legal Rules and Doctrines". Harvard Law Review. 27 (3): 195–234. doi:10.2307/1325958. ISSN 0017-811X. JSTOR 1325958.
  27. ^ Sarat, Austin; Kearns, Thomas, eds. (1996). Justice and Injustice in Law and Legal Theory. University of Michigan Press. pp. 18–19. doi:10.3998/mpub.10283. ISBN 9780472096251. JSTOR 10.3998/mpub.10283.

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