The Basics of Law


Law is a system of rules that a society or government develops in order to deal with crime, business agreements, social relationships, and more. The term is also used to refer to the professions that work within this framework: lawyers, judges, and police officers, for example.

The principal functions of law are to establish standards, maintain order, and resolve conflicts, as well as protect people’s liberties and rights. These functions are met in a variety of ways by the law, which itself has many branches. Contract law regulates agreements to exchange goods or services, property law defines people’s rights and duties toward tangible property (such as land or buildings), and criminal law deals with crimes and punishment.

For a law to become a law, it must be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The President can choose to sign the bill into law, or he or she can refuse to do so. This is called a veto, and if Congress wants to bypass the President’s refusal, it must vote to override his or her veto with a two-thirds majority of both the House and the Senate.

Legal systems vary greatly from country to country and sometimes even within a single country, but most do share some similarities based on historically accepted justice ideals. They include: supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, participation in the creation and enforcement of laws, separation of powers, and procedural and legal transparency.